“Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy on the ground
that it would cost the administration the fall elections. Nothing,
however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and
settled in my mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in
substance, ‘Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I
question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The
depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses,
is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be
viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for
help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead
of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.’ His
idea,” said the President, “was that it would be considered our last
shriek on the retreat. [This was his precise expression.] ‘Now,’
continued Mr. Seward, ‘while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir,
that you postpone its issue until you can give it to the country
supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the
case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war.’ “Mr. Lincoln
continued “The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me
with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my
thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was
that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch
for a picture, waiting for a victory.
“From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and
there, anxiously watching the process of events. Well, the next news
we had was of Pope’s disaster at Bull Run. Things looked darker than
ever. Finally came the week of the battle of Antietam. I determined
to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the
advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers’ Home
[three miles out of Washington]. Here I finished writing the second
draft of the preliminary proclamation; came up on Saturday; called
the Cabinet together to hear it, and it was published on the
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL SEDGWICK.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, February 11, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL SEDGWICK, Army of Potomac:
Unless there be some strong reason to the contrary, please send
General Kilpatrick to us here, for two or three days.
TELEGRAM TO HORACE MAYNARD.
WASHINGTON, February 13, 1864.
HON. HORACE MAYNARD, Nashville, Tenn.:
Your letter of [the] second received. Of course Governor Johnson
will proceed with reorganization as the exigencies of the case appear
to him to require. I do not apprehend he will think it necessary to
deviate from my views to any ruinous extent. On one hasty reading I
see no such deviation in his program, which you send.
TO W. M. FISHBACK.
WASHINGTON, February 17, 1864.
WILLIAM M. FISHBACK, Little Rock, Arkansas:
When I fixed a plan for an election in Arkansas I did it in ignorance
that your convention was doing the same work. Since I learned the
latter fact I have been constantly trying to yield my plan to them.
I have sent two letters to General Steele, and three or four
despatches to you and others, saying that he, General Steele, must be
master, but that it will probably be best for him to merely help the
convention on its own plan. Some single mind must be master, else
there will be no agreement in anything, and General Steele,
commanding the military and being on the ground, is the best man to
be that master. Even now citizens are telegraphing me to postpone
the election to a later day than either that fixed by the convention
or by me. This discord must be silenced.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL STEELE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, February 17, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL STEELE, Little Rock, Arkansas:
The day fixed by the convention for the election is probably the
best, but you on the ground, and in consultation with gentlemen
there, are to decide. I should have fixed no day for an election,
presented no plan for reconstruction, had I known the convention was
doing the same things. It is probably best that you merely assist
the convention on their own plan, as to election day and all other
matters I have already written and telegraphed this half a dozen
TELEGRAM TO A. ROBINSON.
WASHINGTON, February 18, 1864.
A. ROBINSON, Leroy, N. Y.:
The law only obliges us to keep accounts with States, or at most
Congressional Districts, and it would overwhelm us to attempt in
counties, cities and towns. Nevertheless we do what we can to oblige
in particular cases. In this view I send your dispatch to the
Provost-Marshal General, asking him to do the best he can for you.
PROCLAMATION CONCERNING BLOCKADE,
FEBRUARY 18, 1864.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Whereas, by my proclamation of the nineteenth of April, one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-one, the ports of the States of South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and
Texas were, for reasons therein set forth, placed under blockade; and
whereas, the port of Brownsville, in the district of Brazos Santiago,
in the State of Texas, has since been blockaded, but as the blockade
of said port may now be safely relaxed with advantage to the
interests of commerce:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the
United States, pursuant to the authority in me vested by the fifth
section of the act of Congress approved on the 13th of July, 1861,
entitled ” An act further to provide for the collection of duties on
imports, and for other purposes,” do hereby declare that the blockade
of the said port of Brownsville shall so far cease and determine from
and after this date, that commercial intercourse with said port,
except as to persons, things, and information hereinafter specified,
may, from this date, be carried on, subject to the laws of the United
States, to the regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the
Treasury, and, until the rebellion shall have been suppressed, to
such orders as may be promulgated by the general commanding the
department, or by an officer duly authorized by him and commanding at
said port. This proclamation does not authorize or allow the
shipment or conveyance of persons in, or intending to enter, the
service of the insurgents, or of things or information intended for
their use, or for their aid or comfort, nor, except upon the
permission of the Secretary of War, or of some officer duly
authorized by him, of the following prohibited articles, namely:
cannon, mortars, firearms, pistols, bombs, grenades, powder,
saltpeter, sulphur, balls, bullets, pikes, swords, boarding-caps
(always excepting the quantity of the said articles which may be
necessary for the defense of the ship and those who compose the
crew), saddles, bridles, cartridge-bag material, percussion and other
caps, clothing adapted for uniforms; sail-cloth of all kinds, hemp
and cordage, intoxicating drinks other than beer and light native
To vessels clearing from foreign ports and destined to the port of
Brownsville, opened by this proclamation, licenses will be granted by
consuls of the United States upon satisfactory evidence that the
vessel so licensed will convey no persons, property, or information
excepted or prohibited above, either to or from the said port; which
licenses shall be exhibited to the collector of said port immediately
on arrival, and, if required, to any officer in charge of the
blockade, and on leaving said port every vessel will be required to
have a clearance from the collector of the customs, according to law,
showing no violation of the conditions of the license. Any violations
of said conditions will involve the forfeiture and condemnation of
the vessel and cargo, and the exclusion of all parties concerned from
any further privilege of entering the United States during the war
for any purpose whatever.
In all respects, except as herein specified, the existing blockade
remains in full force and effect as hitherto established and
maintained, nor is it relaxed by this proclamation except in regard
to the port to which relaxation is or has been expressly applied.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington,
this eighteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United
States the eighty-eighth.
By the President
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
TELEGRAM TO COMMANDER BLAKE.
EXECUTIVE, MANSION, February 19, 1864.
COMMANDER GEORGE S. BLAKE,
Commandant Naval Academy, Newport, R. I.:
I desire the case of Midshipman C. Lyon re-examined and if not
clearly inconsistent I shall be much obliged to have the
TELEGRAM FROM WARREN JORDAN.
NASHVILLE, February 20, 1864.
HON. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.:
In county and State elections, must citizens of Tennessee take the
oath prescribed by Governor Johnson, or will the President’s oath of
amnesty entitle them to vote? I have been appointed to hold the March
election in Cheatham County, and wish to act understandingly.
WASHINGTON, February 20, 1864.
WARREN JORDAN, NASHVILLE:
In county elections you had better stand by Governor Johnson’s plan;
otherwise you will have conflict and confusion. I have seen his
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL ROSECRANS.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 22, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL ROSECRANS, Saint LOUIS, MO.:
Colonel Sanderson will be ordered to you to-day, a mere omission that
it was not done before. The other questions in your despatch I am not
yet prepared to answer.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL STEELE.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 22, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL STEELE, Little Rock, Ark.:
Yours of yesterday received. Your conference with citizens approved.
Let the election be on the i4th of March as they agreed.
TO GENERAL F. STEELE.
WASHINGTON, February 25, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL STEELE, Little Rock, Arkansas:
General Sickles is not going to Arkansas. He probably will make a
tour down the Mississippi and home by the gulf and ocean, but he will
not meddle in your affairs.
At one time I did intend to have him call on you and explain more
fully than I could do by letter or telegraph, so as to avoid a
difficulty coming of my having made a plan here, while the convention
made one there, for reorganizing Arkansas; but even his doing that
has been given up for more than two weeks. Please show this to
Governor Murphy to save me telegraphing him.
DESERTERS DEATH SENTENCES REMITTED
GENERAL ORDERS, NO.76.
WASHINGTON, February 26, 1864.
Sentence of Deserters.
The President directs that the sentences of all deserters who have
been condemned by court-martial to death, and that have not been
otherwise acted upon by him, be mitigated to imprisonment during the
war at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where they will be sent under
suitable guards by orders from army commanders.
The commanding generals, who have power to act on proceedings of
courts-martial in such cases, are authorized in special cases to
restore to duty deserters under sentence, when in their judgment the
service will be thereby benefited.
Copies of all orders issued under the foregoing instructions will be
immediately forwarded to the Adjutant-General and to the Judge-
By order of the Secretary of War:
B. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL BUTLER.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, February 26, 1864
MAJOR-GENERAL BUTLER, Fort. Monroe, Va.:
I cannot remember at whose request it was that I gave the pass to
Mrs. Bulky. Of course detain her, if the evidence of her being a spy
is strong against her.
TO W. JAYNE.
WASHINGTON, February 26, 1864.
HON. W. JAYNE.
DEAR SIR–I dislike to make changes in office so long as they can be
avoided. It multiplies my embarrassments immensely. I dislike two
appointments when one will do. Send me the name of some man not the
present marshal, and I will nominate him to be Provost-Marshal for
TO E. H. EAST.
WASHINGTON, February 27, 1864.
HON. E. H: EAST, Secretary of State, Nashville, Tennessee
Your telegram of the twenty-sixth instant asking for a copy of my
despatch to Warren Jordan, Esq., at Nashville Press office, has just
been referred to me by Governor Johnson. In my reply to Mr. Jordan,
which was brief and hurried, I intended to say that in the county and
State elections of Tennessee, the oath prescribed in the proclamation
of Governor Johnson on the twenty-sixth of January, 1864, ordering an
election in Tennessee on the first Saturday in March next, is
entirely satisfactory to me as a test of loyalty of all persons
proposing or offering to vote in said elections; and coming from him
would better be observed and followed. There is no conflict between
the oath of amnesty in my proclamation of eighth December, 1863, and
that prescribed by Governor Johnson in his proclamation of the
No person who has taken the oath of amnesty of eighth December, 1863,
and obtained a pardon thereby, and who intends to observe the same in
good faith, should have any objection to taking that prescribed by
Governor Johnson as a test of loyalty.
I have seen and examined Governor Johnson’s proclamation, and am
entirely satisfied with his plan, which is to restore the State
government and place it under the control of citizens truly loyal to
the Government of the United States.
Please send above to Governor Johnson.
TO SECRETARY STANTON.
WASHINGTON, February 27, 1864
HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.
SIR:–You ask some instructions from me in relation to the Report of
Special Commission constituted by an order of the War Department,
dated December 5, 1863, “to revise the enrolment and quotas of the
City and State of New York, and report whether there be any, and
what, errors or irregularities therein, and what corrections, if any,
should be made.”
In the correspondence between the Governor of New York and myself
last summer, I understood him to complain that the enrolments in
several of the districts of that State had been neither accurately
nor honestly made; and in view of this, I, for the draft then
immediately ensuing, ordered an arbitrary reduction of the quotas in
several of the districts wherein they seemed too large, and said:
“After this drawing, these four districts, and also the seventeenth
and twenty-ninth, shall be carefully re-enrolled, and, if you please,
agents of yours may witness every step of the process.” In a
subsequent letter I believe some additional districts were put into
the list of those to be re-enrolled. My idea was to do the work over
according to the law, in presence of the complaining party, and
thereby to correct anything which might be found amiss. The
commission, whose work I am considering, seem to have proceeded upon
a totally different idea. Not going forth to find men at all, they
have proceeded altogether upon paper examinations and mental
processes. One of their conclusions, as I understand, is that, as
the law stands, and attempting to follow it, the enrolling officers
could not have made the enrolments much more accurately than they
did. The report on this point might be useful to Congress. The
commission conclude that the quotas for the draft should be based
upon entire population, and they proceed upon this basis to give a
table for the State of New York, in which some districts are reduced
and some increased. For the now ensuing draft, let the quotas stand
as made by the enrolling officers, in the districts wherein this
table requires them to be increased; and let them be reduced
according to the table in the others: this to be no precedent for
subsequent action. But, as I think this report may, on full
consideration, be shown to have much that is valuable in it, I
suggest that such consideration be given it, and that it be
especially considered whether its suggestions can be conformed to
without an alteration of the law.
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