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wrong in this, those who did the hard fighting can best determine.
One thing, at least, all who read this book can tellnow that the war is over and the result ascertainedand that is, whether I would have been more or less worthy of their confidence and regard by advising them to go into it or to stay out of it; and none will hereafter be surprised, when they have learned the true nature and design of the Rebellion, that from first to last I resolved that no earthly power should induce me to lend it either my co-operation, my respect, or my sympathy.
With these prefatory remarks, this work is respectfully submitted to the candid judgment of an enlightened country by
It is a well-known maxim that"a good cause makes a stout heart and a strong arm,” and never was the truth of the adage more strikingly illustrated than in the political career of the Hon. John Minor Botts, of Virginia, than whom no man in the United States at this day stands more prominent before the people as a consistent and patriotic advocate and supporter of "THE UNION, THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS."
An intimate friend of the illustrious Henry Clay, and a compeer of statesmen and legislators during the most important political eras of the last thirty years, the leading actions of Mr. Botts's life, and his speeches and writings, form as interesting and instructive a portion of the story of the progress of our great Republic from youth to manhood as any part of American history. Especially interesting, however, is the record of the manly and fearless stand made by Mr. Botts in support of the Union cause during the inauguration and progress of the late great conspiracy against the life of the nation, the culmination of which will ever form an eventful era in the world's history. His intimacy with the prominent actors in the great tragedy, and the privilege which he possessed of having the entrce behind the scenes in the theatre of the rebellion, placed him in a position "to unfold a tale," and "to reveal the secrets of his prisonhouse," which, if it does not “harrow up the soul" or make "the hair stand on end," will assuredly excite to the utmost the just indignation of every honest man in the country, and rouse up to action every lover of the nation in the land.
The circumstances under which this work was written are as follows:
In October, 1861, the French consul in Richmond applied to his friend, Mr. Charles Palmer, for all the information he could furnish him upon the question of secession and the rebellion, the merits or demerits of which he did not understand. Upon this request being made, Mr. Palmer applied to Mr. Botts, who he was well aware was far more competent to enlighten bis friend upon the subject than himself, or, indeed, any other gentleman in the South. Thereupon the information desired was furnished in a letter, which contained, in a concise form, the important history constituting the basis of the present work. Since 1861, time and circumstances have led to an enlargement of the history, and the views it presents have been enforced by additional arguments, and the facts related substantiated by incontrovertible testimony.
Shortly after this letter was sent to the French consul, it became rumored about Richmond that Mr. Botts was engaged in writing a secret history of the rebellion, and, as a matter of course, the Confederate authorities were soon trying to ferret out the truth of the matter. For some time nothing of any importance in relation to the subject transpired. On the first day of March, 1862, however, the Confederate Congress passed an act suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus, and declaring martial law. The next morning, which was Sunday, about an hour before daybreak, the late General—then Captain—Godwyn, assistant provost-marshal under General Winder (of Andersonville memory), with a hundred armed men, surrounded Mr. Botts's house, obtained admission, arrested him in bed, and carried him off to a filthy negro jail, where he was lodged, and kept in solitary confinement for eight weeks, his house and family in the mean time being placed in custody of two of General Winder's satellites. After his arrest, his trunks, writing-desk, and every receptacle for private papers were closely searched, and his private letters and papers taken possession of and carried to the provost-marshal's office, where they were examined. Mr. Botts, knowing how obnoxious he had made himself to the Confederate authorities by his bold, outspoken hostility to the doctrine of secession, and also to all engaged in inaugurating the wicked and atrocious rebellion, had concluded-as soon as he heard of martial law having been declared-that he would probably be among the first victims of their vengeance, and he had taken the precaution to conceal the historical sketch in question in a place where the rebels would not be likely to find it, and through the medium of a friend it was privately conveyed to the office of one of the foreign consuls for safe keeping until called for.
Two days after the imprisonment of Mr. Botts, Captain Godwyn, who was acting as his jailer, presented himself in his cell, and the following conversation occurred.
After interchanging the ordinary salutations, Captain Godwyn remarked to Mr. Botts that he thought they did not get hold of all his papers in their search.
Mr. Botts. Ab! perhaps. not. Did you miss any particular paper, captain, that you had reason to expect was there?
Captain Godwyn. Yes, there was one we did not find that we were led to believe was there.
Mr. Botts. Indeed! and what paper was that, captain?
Captain Godwyn. Well, I don't know exactly how to describe it. Mr. Botts. I expect I could tell you, captain, what it
Are you really anxious to get possession of it? Captain Godwyn. Well, yes; I should like to get it. Where is it?
Mr. Botts. Ah! that you must find out for yourself, captain. You had no difficulty in finding me at midnight, and you will have to find that for yourself. But, if you are very anxious to get it, you shall have it, but only on my terms, and upon none other can you get it.
Captain Godwyn. What are your terms?
Mr. Botts. My terms are that you shall bring me the affidavit of Jeff. Davis, sworn to before Judge Haliburton, that, upon my delivery of that paper to you or to him, it shall be transferred, without alteration or mutilation, to the editors of the Enquirer and Examiner for publication, just as it came from my hand; and, to show you that I am not afraid or ashamed to let your government or the world know what I have written, I will accompany the document with five hundred or a thousand dollars to pay for the expense of the publication.