Maryland Matters Concern President Lincoln

November 1, 1863

General Robert C. Schenck telegraphs Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “I will go to see the President by next Train 5. P. M. today. My order as to the election has already been issued. If it is revoked, we lose this State. Can I see you first on arrival at Washington this evening?”  His orders provided for military provost marshals to arrest civilians acting disorderly around polling places.

Maryland Governor August Bradford and other officials objected to this military interference by Schenck.  Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, a Maryland resident, writes President Lincoln: “Col Berry Speaker of the House of Delegates in Md. is here with a letter from Govr Bradford in reference to the interference – of the Military in the Election on Wednesday. Orders he understands have already been printed which are to be promulgated to morrow. The Govr. thinks such orders only promotive of mischief & entirely unnecessary for any public purpose. I concur cordially in his protest & feel sure that only mischief can grow out of them–

Will you see Col Berry for a few moments at the White House? He will call at any moment – He is your warm friend, & tells me that he recently presented your name in a speech to the Baltimore County people & had an enthusiastic response from them which even surprized him –

On the other side of the issue, former Secretary of War Simon Cameron is pushing for more arrests.  He writes President Lincoln: “The Police Commissioners, of Baltimore, have sued me for their arrest — and the trials are expected on this week. My attorney thinks they will be favorably affected by the arrest of all the parties for Treason, and the hope that you will have their arrests ordered immediately has brought me here. The suits need not be prosecuted, unless it is found necessary in the progress of my suits. These of mine are the first suits of the kind and a decision would not only be injurious to the Govt, but would be injurious to me — and hence my anxiety.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes: “This evening Genl. Schenck, accompanied by Genl. Garfield & Judge Kelley came in to insist upon some order which would prevent disloyal people from voting at the ensuing Maryland election.  Before going into the President’s room (Kelley & Garfield sitting with me in the ante room) Kelley spoke very bitterly of Blair’s working against the Union party in Maryland.”

After they were gone I handed the President’ Blair’s Rockville speech, telling him I had read it carefully and saving a few intemperate and unwise personal expressions against leading Republicans which might better have been omitted, I saw nothing in the speech which could have given rise to such violent criticism.”

“Really” says the President “the controversy between the two sets of men, represented by him and by Mr. Sumner is one of mere form and little else.  I do not think Mr Blair would agree that the states in rebellion are to be permitted to come at once into the political family & renew the very performances which have already so bedeviled us.  I do not think Mr. [Charles] Sumner would insist that when the loyal people of a state obtain the supremacy in their councils & are ready to assume the direction of their own affairs, that they should be excluded. I do not understand Mr. Blair to admit that Jefferson may take his seat in Congress again as a Representative of his people; I do not understand Mr Sumner to assert that John Minor Botts may not.  So far as I understand Mr Sumner he seems in favor of Congress taking from the Executive the power it at present exercises over insurrectionary districts, and assuming it to itself.  But when the vital question arises as to the right and privilege of the people fo these states to govern themselves, I apprehend there will be little difference among loyal men.  The question at once is presented in whom this power is vested.  And the practical matter for decision is how to keep the rebellious populations rom overwhelming and outvoting the loyal minority.”

I asked him if Blair was really opposed to our Union ticket in Maryland.  He said he did not know anything about it – had never asked: he says Crisfield plainly told him he was opposed to the Administration.

I spoke of Fox having said that Union men must divide on the question of the Blair and Sumner theories & that I could see no necessity for it.  He agreed.  He says Montgomery Blair came to him today to say that Frank has no idea or intention of running for Speaker – that Frank wishes to know what the President desires him to do & he will do it.  The President will write to Frank his ideas of the best thing to do: for Frank to come here at opening of Congress: say publicly he is not candidate for Speaker: assist in organization of the House on Union basis & then go back to the field.

If Frank Blair does that, it will be the best thing for his own fame he has recently done.  He is glorious fellow & it is pitiable to see him the pet of traitors or lukewarm loyalists in Mo, and attacked abused and vilified by his old friends and adherents.

I was pleased to learn from the President tonight that the Eleventh Corps did specially well in Hooker’s night battle on the Tennessee.

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

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