Page images

restrictions upon trade and intercourse. I think proper, however, to enjoin upon you the following: Allow no part of the military under your command to be engaged in either returning fugitive slaves, or in forcing or enticing slaves from their homes; and, so far as practicable, enforce the same forbearance upon the people.

Report to me your opinion upon the availability for good of the enrolled militia of the State. Allow no one to enlist colored troops, except upon orders from you, or from here through you.

Allow no one to assume the functions of confiscating property, under the law of Congress, or otherwise, except upon orders from here.

At elections see that those and only those, are allowed to vote, who are entitled to do so by the laws of Missouri, including as of those laws the restrictions laid by the Missouri Convention upon those who may have participated in the rebellion.

So far as practicable, you will, by means of your military force, expel guerrillas, marauders, and murderers, and all who are known to harbor, aid, or abet them. But in like manner you will repress assumptions of unauthorized individuals to perform the same service, because under pretence of doing this they become marauders and murderers themselves.

To now restore peace, let the military obey orders; and those not of the military leave each other alone, thus not breaking the peace themselves.

In giving the above directions, it is not intended to restrain you in other expedient and necessary matters not falling within their range. A. LINCOLN.

Your obedient servant,

The condition of affairs in this department continued to be greatly disturbed by political agitations, and the personal controversies to which they gave rise; and after a lapse of some months the President deemed it wise to relieve General Schofield from further command in this department. This was done by an order from the War Department, dated January 24th, 1864, by which, also, General Rosecrans was appointed. in his place. In his order assuming command, dated January 30th, General Rosecrans paid a very high compliment to his predecessor, for the admirable order in which he found the business of the Department, and expressed the hope that he might receive" the honest, firm, and united support of all true national and Union men of the Department, without regard to politics, creed, or party, in his endeavors to maintain law

and re-establish peace, and secure prosperity throughout its limits."

Before closing this notice of the perplexities and annoyances to which the President was subjected by the domestic contentions of Missouri, we may mention, as an illustration of the extent to which they were carried, the case of Rev. Dr. McPheeters, who had been silenced by General Curtis for preaching disloyalty to his congregation in St. Louis. The incident gave rise to a good deal of excitement, which was continued throughout the year. Toward the close of it the President wrote the following letter in reply to an appeal for his interference:


I have just looked over a petition signed by some three dozen citizens of St. Louis, and their accompanying letters, one by yourself, one by a Mr. Nathan Ranney, and one by a Mr. John D. Coalter, the whole relating to the Rev. Dr. McPheeters. The petition prays, in the name of justice and mercy, that I will restore Dr. McPheeters to all his ecclesiastical rights.

This gives no intimation as to what ecclesiastical rights are withdrawn. Your letter states that Provost-Marshal Dick, about a year ago, ordered the arrest of Dr. McPheeters, Pastor of the Vine Street Church, prohibited him from officiating, and placed the management of affairs of the church out of the control of the chosen trustees; and near the close you state that a certain course "would insure his release." Mr. Ranney's letter says: "Dr. Samuel McPheeters is enjoying all the rights of a civilian, but cannot preach the gospel!" Mr. Coalter, in his letter, asks: "Is it not a strange illustration of the condition of things, that the question who shall be allowed to preach in a church in St. Louis shall be decided by the President of the United States ?"

Now, all this sounds very strangely; and, withal, a little as if you gentlemen, making the application, do not understand the case alike; one affirming that his doctor is enjoying all the rights of a civilian, and another pointing out to me what will secure his release! On the 2d of January last, I wrote to General Curtis in relation to Mr. Dick's order upon Doctor McPheeters; and, as I suppose the doctor is enjoying all

the rights of a civilian, I only quote that part of my letter which relates to the church. It was as follows: "But I must add that the United States Government must not, as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but the churches, as such, must take care of themselves. It will not do for the United States to appoint trustees, supervisors, or other agents for the churches." This letter going to General Curtis, then in command, I supposed, of course, it was obeyed, especially as I heard no further complaint from Doctor Mc. or his friends for nearly an entire year. I have never interfered, nor thought of interfering, as to who shall or shall not preach in any church; nor have I knowingly or believingly tolerated any one else to interfere by my authority. If any one is so interfering by color of my authority, I would like to have it specifically made known to me.

If, after all, what is now sought, is to have me put Doctor Mc. back over the heads of a majority of his own congregation, that, too, will be declined. I will not have control of any church or any side.


The Presbytery, the regular church authority in the matter, subsequently decided that Dr. McPheeters could not return to his pastoral charge.

The victories of the Union arms during the summer of 1863 -the repulse of the rebels at Gettysburg, the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and the consequent restoration of the Mississippi to the commerce of the nation, produced the most salutary effect upon the public sentiment of the country. There was a good deal of partisan opposition to specific measures of the Administration, and in some quarters this took the form of open hostility to the further prosecution of the war. But the spirit and determination of the people were at their height, and the Union party entered upon the political contests of the Autumn of 1863, in the several States, with confidence and courage.

The President had been invited by the Republican State

Committee of Illinois to attend the State Convention, to be held at Springfield on the 3d of September. Finding it impossible to accept the invitation, he wrote in reply the following letter, in which several of the most conspicuous features of his policy are defended against the censures by which they had been assailed:



MY DEAR SIR :-Your letter inviting me to attend a mass meeting of unconditional Union men, to be held at the capital of Illinois, on the 3d day of September, has been received. It would be very agreeable for me thus to meet my old friends at my own home; but I cannot just now be absent from here so long as a visit there would require.

The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion to the Union; and I am sure that my old political friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the nation's life.

There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say: you desire peace, and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we attain it? There are but three conceivable ways: First-to suppress the Rebellion by force of arms. This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is to give up the Union. I am against this. Are you for it? If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for force, nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise.

I do not believe that any compromise embracing the maintenance of the Union is now possible. All that I learn leads to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the Rebellion is its military, its army. That army dominates all the country, and all the people within its range. Any offer of terms made by any man or men within that range, in opposition to that army, is simply nothing for the present; because such man or men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one were made with them.

To illustrate: Suppose refugees from the South and peace men of the North get together in convention, and frame and proclaim a compromise embracing a restoration of the Union. In what way can that compromise be used to keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania? Meade's army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and, I think, can ultimately drive it out of existence. But no paper compromise to which the controllers of Lee's army are not agreed can at all affect that army. In an effort at such

compromise we would waste time, which the enemy would improve to our disadvantage; and that would be all.

A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people, first liberated from the domination of that army by the success of our own army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from that rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself to be the servant of the people, according to the bond of service, the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them.

But, to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while you, 1 suppose, do not. Yet, I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided that you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation; to which you re plied you wished not be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.

You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests its Commander-in-Chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever it helps us and hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they cannot use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and female.

But the Proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think Its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the Rebellion before the Proclamation was issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that It was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the Proclamation as before.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »