Cabinet Meeting Focuses on Trading in Confederacy and Parole of Prisoners

February 28, 1862

“Sec: [Salmon P.] Chase, in C. C. broached the subject of licence to trade in seceded Territory, under the act of Congress, and it seemed agreed that Chase’s plan was good – beginning in the interior to see how the plan will work, before trying [it] on the seaboard,” wrote Attorney General Edward Bates.  “Mr. [William H.] Seward and Mr. [Montgomery Blair thought that we were bound in honor to stand by the proposition, once made, to discharge future prisoners on parol[e], and Mr. Stanton seemed inclined the same way. l insisted that we were under no obligation of honor, justice or even delicacy – that the proposition was wrong in itself and ought never to have been made, and that the negotiation being broken off by the absurd claim of Cobb, we ought not to renew it.  Exchange prisoners actually taken, to be sure, but there is no propriety in binding ourselves before hand, to discharge future prisoners we may take, in excess of our men in the hands of the enemy.  We expect to take many, and hope that they will take but few.  We may have urgent occasion to keep some particular prisoners for future judgment.  And when we have prisoners that we do not want to keep, we may, indulging a politic generosity, discharge them on our terms.  Mr. Chase took the same grounds, substantially – Messrs. [Gideon] Welles and [Caleb B.]Smith assented, but said nothing in particular – and the Prest evidently concurred with us, having no faith that they wd. keep their parol[e].”

President Lincoln met with General George B. McClellan regarding the president’s disappointment in the recent Harper’s Ferry Operation.

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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