President Lincoln Delays Execution of 15-year-old Accused of Murder

August 20, 1864

On a rainy day in Washington, President Lincoln writes Union Army General John F. Miller in Nashville Tennessee at the request of Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson: “Suspend execution of death sentence of Patrick Jones, Co. F. twelfth Tennessee Cavalry until further orders and forward record for examination.”   Johnson argued that the Jones was only 15 and had been drunk at the time of the murder.   He wrote Lincoln: “I am free to say that the moral influence would be much greater if we could hang some of the larger fish…there is no trouble in convicting & hanging the little helpless minnow which makes & leaves no impression upon the public mind.”’

President also takes an interest in another youth, writing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “Col. Whistler, who presents this, says he has an application on file for his son—Garland N. Whistler—to go to West-Point, and that there is now a vacancy. If there is a vacancy, and if his vouchers are the best now on file, let him have it. “

Meanwhile, efforts to replace President Lincoln as the Republican presidential nominee increase. Historian William Frank Zornow wrote in Lincoln & the Party Divided:“While the calls for the new convention were being distributed, steps were taken to secure the withdrawal of Lincoln and Fremont so that all obstacles in the way of a new convention would be removed. About August 20 a group of abolitionists in Boston addressed a letter to [General John C.] Frémont concerning the possibility of his withdrawal. Fremont’s reply indicated that he could not take this step without consulting the party which had nominated him, but he assured them he was ready to do whatever seemed best and would abide by the decision of a new convention. Lincoln made no formal statement concerning his willingness to withdraw and permit a new convention to meet.”

The impact of the Wade-Davis Manifesto has reached Louisiana. From New Orleans, Cuthbert Bullitt writes to the president’s top aide: “Knowing how our worthy President’s pressed for time to Read the communications presented him, induces me to ask your polite attention to the enclosed communication, in reply to the attack of Thos. J Durant.1

It is useless to tell you that the protest of Winter Davis & Ben Wade emanates from Durant or rather it is a joint partnership concern–

I wish to assist in overthrowing this trio, especially Mr Durant, who with his myrmidons in office here, (all Chase3 men) are determined to defeat Mr Lincoln — & there is no more affectual mode of doing it, than to publish Mr Durants letter to me in July 1862, which I forwarded to the President & which he answered,4 & is now in my possession, it is by the by one of the best letters ever written by Mr Lincoln, & ought to be presented to the public at this time–

this letter of Mr Durant is some several pages long, in which he complains bitterly of the course pursued by the President, the Administration & the military, in fact his entire position, the reverse of what it is now,

We have to fight the enemy here, every foot of the ground, untill the election is over, & though Mr Lincolns friends are somewhat disapointed in his not turning his enemies out of office we do not despair–

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Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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