President Lincoln Works on Presidential Pardons

June 1, 1863

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay writes Adjutant General Joseph Holt: “If you can come immediately this morning the President will endeavor to work a while on the Court Martial cases.”   President writes Attorney General Edward Bates: “As the Judge, Jury, Marshal, District Attorney & Post-Master General, join in asking a pardon in this case, I have concluded to grant it. The Attorney General will please make it out & send it to me.”  The sentence involved West Virginian Jacob Varner who had been charged with robbing the mails.”  Regarding the case of Thomas Lewis, charged with bribing a federal detective, Lincoln writes: “I can not interfere in this case.

President Lincoln follows up on a recent proposal from New Yorkers to raise regiments of black soldiers to be commanded by General John C. Fremont.  The president meets with and then writes Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner: “In relation to the matter spoken of Saturday morning, and this morning, towit, the raising of colored troops in the North, with the understanding that they shall be commanded by Gen. Fremont, I have to say:

That while it is very objectionable, as a general rule, to have troops raised on any special terms, such as to serve only under a particular commander, or only at a particular place or places, yet I would forego the objection in this case, upon a fair prospect that a large force of this sort could thereby be the more rapidly raised.”

That being raised, say to the number of ten thousand, I would very cheerfully send them to the field under Gen. Fremont, assigning him a Department, made or to be made, with such white force also as I might be able to put in.

That with the best wishes towards Gen. Fremont, I can not now give him a Department, because I have not spare troops to furnish a new Department; and I have not, as I think, justifiable ground to relieve the present commander of any old one.

In the raising of the colored troops, the same consent of Governors would have to be obtained as in case of white troops, and the government would make the same provision for them during organization, as for white troops.

It would not be a point with me whether Gen. Fremont should take charge of the organization, or take charge of the force only after the organization.

If you think fit to communicate this to Gen. Fremont you are at liberty to do so.

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “Gave the President this A.M. a list of applicants for appointment to the Naval Academy.  A great crowd in attendance; I therefore left the list for him to examine and deferred action until another interview.”

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Published in: on June 1, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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