Senator Presses President Lincoln for Tougher Prosecution of the War

August 8, 1862

A cabinet meeting is held, “but nothing proposed and nothing done of any moment” according to Secretary of Treasury Salmon P. Chase.  Historian Mark Neely argued in The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties that Chase was wrong.  Orders issued by the War Department were discussed at the cabinet meeting that “had a momentous effect on civil liberties in the United States.  The brief period of sweeping and uncoordinated arrests that followed their issuance constituted the lowest point for civil liberties in t he North during the Civil War.”  The War Department order was designed to “prevent evasion by military duty” by those who shifted residence or sought to leave the country.

Michigan Senator Zachariah Chandler was in sympathy with tough measures.  He writes President Lincoln to press for vigorous prosecution of the Second Confiscation Act: “With a free circulation of my speech and a positive assurance that the evils therein set forth shall be promptly remedied.  That the Confiscation Law shall be literally enforced, Slaves used for all menial service and our brave troops no longer used to guard the property of Rebels in Arms. Michigan has Nobly done her whole duty.  We have already enlisted eight thousand men for the War under the 300,000 Call & shall fill Our quota within one week from today.  Our pledges must be fulfilled & I know You will do it.  Compell [sic] your Generals to obey the Laws & the Country will Call blessed. You can form no conception of the public sentiment in the North West. I was called radical in Washington, but I find myself so far behind the people that I am almost ashamed of my laggardness.”

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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