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EDITOR'S PREFACE.

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 entree behind the scenes in the

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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 his 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 thè 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. Ah! 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 was. Are you really anxious to get possession of it? Captain Godwyn. Well, yes; I should like to get it. Where is it?

Mr. Bolls. 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.

Captain Godwyn. It must be a very important paper that you will give so much to have made public. What is it?

Mr. Botts. I presume you know what it is you are in search of, but if not you shall know. It is the secret history of this rebellion for thirty years before it broke

out.

Captain Godwyn. Why are you so anxious to have it published?

Because," replied Mr. Botts, rising from his seat and advancing toward the captain, at the same time shaking his huge fist within a few inches of his face, and speaking with great vehemence in voice and manner, "because, by Heaven, sir, if the people could read it and learn the truth, it would lead to a revolution within a revolution in which I could take active part!”

Upon this the committee rose, and the captain departed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

During Mr. Botts's imprisonment, the French minister, Count Mercier, visited Richmond, and expressed to the friends of Mr. Botts great anxiety to see him and converse with him on the subject of the war, as he had great reliance on his views. But this he was not permitted to do. From this fact it may be justly inferred that the French consul had previously communicated some of Mr. Botts's views upon this subject to the embassador at Washington; at all events, a copy of the letter was placed in Count Mercier's hands during his visit to Richmond, and that the document made an important impression in that quarter is not at all improbable.

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