President Lincoln Promotes Louisiana Reconstruction

January 13, 1864 

President Lincoln writes General Nathaniel  Banks about reconstruction in Louisiana: “I have received two letters from you which are duplicates, each of the other, except that one bears date the 27th. and the other the 30th. of December.  Your confidence in the practicability of constructing a free state-government, speedily, for Louisiana, and your zeal to accomplish it, are very gratifying.  It is a connection, than in which, the words ‘can‘ and ‘will‘ were never more precious.  I am much in hope that, on the authority of my letter, of December 24th. you have already begun the work.  Whether you shall have done so or not, please, on receiving this, proceed with all possible despatch, using your own absolute discretion in all matters which may not carry you away from the conditions stated in your letters to me, nor from those of the Message and Proclamation of December 8th.  Frame orders, and fix times and places, for this, and that, according to your own judgments.

I am much gratified to know that Mr. Dennison, the Collector at New-Orleans, and who bears you this, understands your views, and will give you his full, and zealous co-operations.  It is my wish, and purpose, that all others, holding authority from me, shall do the like; and, to spare me writing, I will thank you to make this known to them.

On December 30, Banks had written: “I am opposed to any settlement, and have been from the beginning, except upon the basis of immediate emancipation, but it is better to secure it by consent, than by force, better still by consent and force….

‘I need not repeat what I have already said, that I shall cordially and ernestly sustain any plan you may adopt for the restoration of government here.  It is my duty, and my desire.  With very great reluctance, and sense of public duty, I have made the suggestion herein contained, upon the same principle that I would impart important military information…

‘The plan of restoration contemplated here by the officers charged with that duty, does not seem to promise results so speedy or certain.  It proceeds upon the theory of constitutional convention to frame an organic law…The election of delegates cannot be called before March…The convention could not sit before April.  It could scarcely occupy less than two months.  Its action could hardly be submitted by this course, will be:….

The fact of restoration is, however, more important than the means, and I shall cordially sustain any policy you may indicate.

President Lincoln dispatches aide John Hay to Florida to promote Reconstruction; he is given rank of assistant adjutant general.  President Lincoln wrote General Quincy Gillmore: ”I understand an effort is being made by some worthy gentlemen to reconstruct a loyal state government in Florida.  Florida is in your department, and it is not unlikely that you may be there in person.  I have given Mr. Hay a commission of Major, and sent him to you with some blank books and other blanks, to aid in the reconstruction.  He will explain, as to the manner of using the blanks, and also my general views on the subject.  It is desirable for all to cooperate; but if irreconcilable differences of opinion shall arise, you are master.  I wish the thing done in the most speedy way possible, so that, when done, it lie within the range of the late proclamation on the subject.  The detail labor, of course, will have to be done by others; but I shall be greatly obliged if you will give it such general supervision as you can find consistent with your more strictly military duties.”

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Published in: on January 13, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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