Attorney General Ordered to Enforce Confiscation Act

November 13, 1862

President Lincoln instructs Attorney General Edward Bates to enforce the Second Confiscation Act passed the previous summer.  According to biographer Marvin R. Cain, Bates “had known Lincoln’s intention days in advance, so he had prepared a rough draft of an implementing order.  A few days later, he casually wrote to Lincoln’s secretary John Nicolay for a copy of the official directive, though he was well aware of its contents.”

“When the Chief Executive’s official notification came, Bates was at home ill, attended by an anxious Julia.  He summoned Coffey, and the two held a long afternoon conference to discuss a tentative directive Bates had drawn up.  Together they also went over each section of the legislative measure, noting that Congress had failed to provide for implementation or court procedures.  A few more hours was all that was needed to complete the directive, which Coffey immediately relayed to attorneys located at key points.  District attorneys were to assume supervisory control over United States marshals who were ordered to carry out the actual confiscation.  The attorneys were to make certain that the property seized belonged to the persons arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of specific offenses listed in the act.  In litigation over prizes and revenues, legal officers were to act only ascertaining all the facts involved. Nowhere in the directive did Bates discuss the act’s constitutionality or whether it represented an enactment by one belligerent against another.  He emphasized only the restricted mechanics of enforcement and carefully construed them to be of a civil, not a military, nature.”

President Lincoln discusses with Navy Captain John Dahlgren promotion of his son, Army  Captain Ulric Dahlgren.

Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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