President Tries to Mediate Kansas Disputes

August  18, 1863

President Lincoln writes General James G. Blount about affairs in Kansas: “Yours of July 31st is received. Governor Carney did leave some papers with me concerning you; but they made no great impression upon me; and I believe they are not altogether such as you seem to think. As I am not proposing to act upon them, I do not now take the time to re-examine them.

I regret to find you denouncing so many persons as liars, scoundrels, fools, thieves, and persecutors of yourself. Your military position looks critical, but did any body force you into it? Have you been ordered to confront and fight ten thousand men, with three thousand men? The Government cannot make men; and it is very easy, when a man has been given the highest commission, for him to turn on those who gave it and vilify them for not giving him a command according to his rank.

My appointment of you first as a Brigadier, and then as a Major General, was evidence of my appreciation of your service; and I have not since marked but one thing in connection with you, with which to be dissatisfied. The sending a military order twenty five miles outside of your lines, and all military lines, to take men charged with no offence against the military, out of the hands of the courts, to be turned over to a mob to be hanged, can find no precedent or principle to justify it. [2] Judge Lynch sometimes takes jurisdiction of cases which prove too strong for the courts; but this is the first case within my knowledge, wherein the court being able to maintain jurisdiction against Judge Lynch, the military has come to the assistance of the latter. I take the facts of this case as you state them yourself, and not from any report of Governor Carney, or other person.

President Lincoln witnesses a test of Spencer’s Repeating Rifle in Treasury Park south of the Treasury Building.  According to Christopher Spencer: “The next day we started on time for the shooting place, which was about where stands the Washington Monument.  With us was the President’s son Robert and an official of the War Department.

“On the way the President stopped in front of the War Department and sent Robert to ask Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War, to come with us.  While we were waiting Mr. Lincoln told us some good stories, and, noticing that one of the pockets of his black alpaca coat was torn, he took a pin from his waistcoat and proceeded to mend it, saying, laughingly, ‘It seems to me that this does not look quite right for the Chief Magistrate of this mighty Republic.’  Robert reported that Mr. Stanton was too busy to accompany us.  ‘Well,’ said the President, ‘they do pretty much as they have a mind to over there.’  The target was a board about 6 inches wide and 3 feet long, with a black spot painted at each end.  The rifle contained six 50-calibre, rim-fire, copper cartridges.  Mr. Lincoln’s first shot was to the left and 5 inches low, but the next shot hit the bul’s eye and the other five were placed close around it.

“‘Now,’ said Mr. Lincoln, ‘we will see the inventor try it.’  The board was reversed and I did somewhat better than the President.  ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you are younger than I am and have a better eye and steadier nerve.’

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Published in: on August 18, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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