A year ago general pardon and amnesty, upon specified terms, were
offered to all except certain designated classes, and it was at the
same time made known that the excepted classes were still within
contemplation of special clemency. During the year many availed
themselves of the general provision, and many more would, only that
the signs of bad faith in some led to such precautionary measures as
rendered the practical process less easy and certain. During the
same time also special pardons have been granted to individuals of
the excepted classes, and no voluntary application has been denied.
Thus practically the door has been for a full year open to all except
such as were not in condition to make free choice; that is, such as
were in custody or under constraint. It is still so open to all.
But the time may come, probably will come, when public duty shall
demand that it be closed and that in lieu more rigorous measures than
heretofore shall be adopted.
In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national
authority on the part of the insurgents as the only indispensable
condition to ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract
nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made
a year ago, that “while I remain in my present position I shall not
attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall
I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that
proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress.” If the people
should, by whatever mode or means, make it an Executive duty to re-
enslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to
In stating a single condition of peace I mean simply to say that the
war will cease on the part of the Government whenever it shall have
ceased on the part of those who began it.
RESPONSE TO A SERENADE,
DECEMBER 6, 1864.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:–I believe I shall never be old enough
to speak without embarrassment when I have nothing to talk about. I
have no good news to tell you, and yet I have no bad news to tell.
We have talked of elections until there is nothing more to say about
them. The most interesting news now we have is from Sherman. We all
know where he went in at, but I can’t tell where he will come out at.
I will now close by proposing three cheers for General Sherman and
TELEGRAM TO GOVERNOR HALL.
WASHINGTON, December 7, 1864.
GOVERNOR HALL, Jefferson City, Mo.:
Complaint is made to me of the doings of a man at Hannibal, Mo., by
the name of Haywood, who, as I am told, has charge of some militia
force, and is not in the United States service. Please inquire into
the matter and correct anything you may find amiss if in your power.
TELEGRAM TO COLONEL FASLEIGH.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 8, 1864.
COLONEL FASLEIGH, Louisville, Ky.:
I am appealed to in behalf of a man by the name of Frank Fairbairns,
said to have been for a long time and still in prison, without any
definite ground stated. How is it?
ORDER APPOINTING COMMISSIONERS TO INVESTIGATE THE MILITARY DIVISION
WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 10, 1864.
ORDERED, First, that Major-General William P. Smith and the Hon.
Henry Stanbery be, and they are hereby, appointed special
commissioners to investigate and report, for the information of the
President; upon the civil and military administration in the military
division bordering upon and west of the Mississippi, under such
instructions as shall be issued by authority of the President and the
Second, said commissioners shall have power to examine witnesses upon
oath, and to take such proofs orally or in writing, upon the subject-
matters of investigation as they may deem expedient, and return the
same together with their report.
Third, all officers and persons in the military, naval and revenue
services, or in any branch of the public service under the authority
of the United States Government, are required, upon subpoena issued
by direction of the said commissioners, to appear before them at such
time and place as may be designated in said subpoena and to give
testimony on oath touching such matters as may be inquired of by the
commissioners, and to produce such books, papers, writings, and
documents as they may be notified or required to produce by the
commissioners, and as may be in their possession.
Fourth, said special commissioners shall also investigate and report
upon any other matters that may hereafter be directed by the
Secretary of War, and shall with all convenient dispatch make report
to him in writing of their investigation, and shall also from time to
time make special reports to the Secretary of War upon such matters
as they may deem of importance to the public interests.
Fifth, the Secretary of War shall assign to the said commissioners
such aid and assistance as may be required for the performance of
their duties, and make such just and reasonable allowances and
compensation for the said commissioners and for the persons employed
by them as he may deem proper.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G, H. THOMAS.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 1864.
MAJOR-GENERAL THOMAS, Nashville, Tennessee:
Please accept for yourself, officers, and men, the nation’s thanks
for your good work of yesterday. You made a magnificent beginning; a
grand consummation is within your easy reach. Do not let it slip.
ORIGIN OF THE “GREENBACK” CURRENCY
TO COLONEL B. D. TAYLOR
WASHINGTON, December [16 ?], 1864.
DEAR COLONEL DICK:–I have long determined to make public the origin
of the greenback and tell the world that it is Dick Taylor’s
creation. You had always been friendly to me, and when troublous
times fell on us, and my shoulders, though broad and willing, were
weak, and myself surrounded by such circumstances and such people
that I knew not whom to trust, then I said in my extremity: “I will
send for Colonel Taylor; he will know what to do.” I think it was in
January, 1862, on or about the 16th, that I did so. You came, and I
said to you:
“What can we do?” Said you, “Why, issue Treasury notes bearing no
interest, printed on the best banking paper. Issue enough to pay off
the Army expenses and declare it legal tender.”
Chase thought it a hazardous thing, but we finally accomplished it,
and gave the people of this Republic the greatest blessing they ever
had-their own paper to pay their own debts.
It is due to you, the father of the present greenback, that the
people should know it, and I take great pleasure in making it known.
How many times have I laughed at you telling me plainly that I was
too lazy to be anything but a lawyer.
TELEGRAM TO OFFICER IN COMMAND AT CHATTANOOGA.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 16, 1864
OFFICER IN COMMAND at Chattanooga, Tenn.:
It is said that Harry Walters, a private in the Anderson cavalry, is
now and for a long time has been in prison at Chattanooga. Please
report to me what is his condition, and for what he is imprisoned.
CALL FOR 300,000 VOLUNTEERS, DECEMBER 19, 1864.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Whereas, by the act approved July 4, 1864, entitled “An act further
to regulate and provide for the enrolling and calling out the
national forces, and for other purposes,” it is provided that the
President of the United States may, “at his discretion, at any time
hereafter, call for any number of men, as volunteers for the
respective terms of one, two, and three years for military service,”
and “that in case the quota or any part thereof of any town,
township, ward of a city, precinct, or election district, or of any
country not so subdivided, shall not be filled within the space of
fifty days after such call, then the President shall immediately
order a draft for one year to fill such quota or any part thereof
which may be unfilled;” and
Whereas, by the credits allowed in accordance with the act of
Congress on the call for 500,000 men, made July 18, 1864, the number
of men to be obtained under that call was reduced to 280,000; and
Whereas, the operations of the enemy in certain States have rendered
it impracticable to procure from them their full quotas of troops
under said call; and
Whereas, from the foregoing causes but 240,000 men have been put into
the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps under the said call of July 18,
1864, leaving a deficiency on that call of two hundred and sixty
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of
America, in order to supply the aforesaid deficiency and to provide
for casualties in the military and naval service of the United
States, do issue this my call for three hundred thousand (300,000)
volunteers to serve for one, two, or three years. The quotas of the
States, districts, and subdistricts under this call will be assigned
by the War Department through the bureau of the Provost-Marshal
General of the United States, and “in case the quota or any part
thereof of any town, township, ward of a city, precinct, or election
district, or of any county not so subdivided, shall not be filled”
before the fifteenth of February, 1865, then a draft shall be made to
fill such quota or any part thereof under this call which may be
unfilled on said fifteenth day of February, 1865.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed……….
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
SHERMAN’S MARCH TO THE SEA
TO GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN.
WASHINGTON, December 26, 1864
MY DEAR GENERAL SHERMAN:–Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift,
the capture of Savannah.
When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was
anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge,
and remembering that “nothing risked, nothing gained,” I did not
interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all
yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce.
And taking the work of General Thomas into the count, as it should be
taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the
obvious and immediate military advantages; but in showing to the
world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to
an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old
opposing force of the whole,–Hood’s army,–it brings those who sat
in darkness to see a great light. But what next?
I suppose it will be safe if I leave General Grant and yourself to
Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army of
officers and men.
Yours very truly,
TELEGRAM TO OFFICER IN COMMAND AT LEXINGTON.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 27, 1864.
OFFICER IN COMMAND at Lexington, Ky.:
If within your power send me the particulars of the causes for which
Lieutenant-Governor Jacob was arrested and sent away.
TO J. MACLEAN.
WASHINGTON, December 27, 1864.
Dr. JOHN MACLEAN:
MY DEAR SIR:–I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your
note of the twentieth of December, conveying the announcement that
the Trustees of the College of New Jersey had conferred upon me the
degree of Doctor of Laws.
The assurance conveyed by this high compliment, that the course of
the Government which I represent, has received the approval of a body
of gentlemen of such character and intelligence, in this time of
public trial, is most grateful to me.
Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this
continent is involved in the issue of our contest. Among the most
gratifying proofs of this conviction is the hearty devotion
everywhere exhibited by our schools and colleges to the national
I am most thankful if my labors have seemed to conduct to the
preservation of those institutions, under which alone we can expect
good government and in its train sound learning, and the progress of
the liberal arts.
I am, sir, very truly, your obedient servant,
TELEGRAM TO OFFICER IN COMMAND AT NASHVILLE.
WASHINGTON, December 28, 1864.
OFFICER IN COMMAND at Nashville, Tenn.:
Suspend execution of James R. Mallory, for six weeks from Friday the
thirtieth of this month, which time I have given his friends to make
proof, if they can, upon certain points.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL U. S. GRANT.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 28, 1864. 5.30 p.m.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, City Point, Va.:
If there be no objection, please tell me what you now understand of
the Wilmington expedition, present and prospective.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL BUTLER.
WASHINGTON, December 29, 1864. ,
There is a man in Company I, Eleventh Connecticut Volunteers, First
Brigade, Third Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, at Chapin’s Farm,
Va.; under the assumed name of William Stanley, but whose real name
is Frank R. Judd, and who is under arrest, and probably about to be
tried for desertion. He is the son of our present minister to
Prussia, who is a close personal friend of Senator Trumbull and
myself. We are not willing for the boy to be shot, but we think it
as well that his trial go regularly on, suspending execution until
further order from me and reporting to me.
TELEGRAM TO COLONEL WARNER.
WASHINGTON, December 30, 1864.
COLONEL WARNER, Indianapolis, Ind.:
It is said that you were on the court-martial that tried John Lennon,
and that you are disposed to advise his being pardoned and sent to
his regiment. If this be true, telegraph me to that effect at once.
TELEGRAM TO J. WILLIAMS.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, January 4, 1865.
JOHN WILLIAMS, Springfield, Ill.:
Let Trumbo’s substitute be regularly mustered in, send me the
evidence that it is done and I will then discharge Trumbo.
MESSAGE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
WASHINGTON, January 5, 1865.
TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES:
I herewith return to your honorable body, in which it originated, a
“joint resolution to correct certain clerical errors in the internal
revenue act,” without my approval.
My reason for so doing is that I am informed that this joint
resolution was prepared during the last moments of the last session
of Congress for the purpose of correcting certain errors of reference
in the internal revenue act, which were discovered on an examination
of an official copy procured from the State Department a few hours
only before the adjournment. It passed the House and went to the
Senate, where a vote was taken upon it, but by some accident it was
not presented to the President of the Senate for his signature.
Since the adjournment of the last session of Congress, other errors
of a kind similar to those which this resolution was designed to
correct, have been discovered in the law, and it is now thought most
expedient to include all the necessary corrections in one act or
The attention of the proper committee of the House has, I am
informed, been already directed to the preparation of a bill for this
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