Ward Hill Lamon Offers to Arrest Maryland Congressman

April 10, 1864

U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon writes President Lincoln from New York: “I see by this morning’s papers that Mr. [Benjamin] Harris Member of Congress from Md on yesterday not only declared himself in favor of recognition of the southern Confederacy “but acquiesced in the doctrine of Secession’!”

Is not this giving “aid countenance, counsel and encouragement” to the rebellion? Can your Administration afford to discriminate between traitors who are members of Congress and those who are not–?–

Does not such language this boldly and defiantly uttered give hope to the Rebels and encouragement to the disaffected in the North who are only restrained from using similar language, and an open resistance to the Administration of the Government by the fear of punishment–? Pass silently by such conduct of prominent traitors and very shortly this Country will reverberate treason throughout the North as well as South — and the ” powers that be” will be powerless to prevent it.– This may be considered a gratuitous opinion of an inexperienced person — but it is an honest one, and I hope it will not be considered impertinent.– I may not be might in counsel, but might be useful in a fight.– Harris has made an assault upon the Country– Those in armed rebellion have done little less– Where is the distinction between traitors north who legislate to destroy the Country and traitors South who fight to effect the same ignoble object–? I can see none: — I think Mr. Harris should be at once arrested — and if you will allow me I will at once return to Washington and arrest him.– Shall I do so? Please have Mr. Niccolay answer at 5th Avenue Hotel New York.–

Congressman Harris was not arrested; he had already been censured by Congress the previous day.

Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “At my instance, the Prest. has written to Genl. [William] Rosecrans to stop thise [sic] useless and wanton interference with the churches [in Missouri]. And I wrote to Rvd. Mr. Foreman exp[r]essing the hope that our judicatories would not degrade themselves by sitting under a Provost Martial [sic].”

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