To Edward Bates

My Dear Sir May 30. 1861

Will you do the favor to confer with Mr. Johnson and be preparing to present the argument for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Very respectfully yours A. LINCOLN

The Honorable I concur

Atty Genl. William H. Seward

The result of Reverdy Johnson’s conference with Bates is not indicated in any immediate communication from Bates, but on July 5, 1861, the attorney general returned a twenty-six-page opinion, the gist of which was that if suspension was understood to mean ” . . . a repeal of all power to issue the writ . . . none but Congress can do it. But if we are at liberty to understand the phrase to mean, that, in case of a great and dangerous rebellion, like the present, the public safety requires the arrest and confinement of persons implicated in that rebellion, I, as freely, declare the opinion that the President has lawful power to suspend the privilege of persons arrested under such circumstances.”


To Ephraim D. and Phoebe Ellsworth

To the Father and Mother of Col. Washington D. C.
Elmer E. Ellsworth: May 25. 1861

My dear Sir and Madam, In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one’s country, and of bright hopes for one’s self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great. This power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew. And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse. My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing engagements, would permit. To me, he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, or an intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he labored for so laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them, no less than for himself.

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child.

May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power. Sincerely your friend in a common affliction—


To Winfield Scott

Lieutenant General Scott Executive Mansion
My dear Sir May 24. 1861

What think you of the propriety of yourself, or the more immediate commander—Genl. Mansfield, as I understand—taking the occasion of occupying Alexandria & Arlington Heights, to make a proclamation to the citizens of those places, and vicinity, assuring them that they are not to be despoiled, but can have your protection, if they will accept it, and inviting such as may have left their homes, and business to return?

Mr. Nicolay will show you a Telegram, which will not displease you. Your Obedient Servt. A. LINCOLN

To Edwin D. Morgan

His Excellency Washington, D.C.
Gov. E. D. Morgan May 20. 1861

My dear Sir: Yours of the 19th. is received. Your letter to the Secretary of War I have not seen.

To not shirk just responsibility, I suppose I ought to admit that I had much to do with the matter of which you complain.

The committee came here some time last week, saying there were fourteen Regiments in N.Y. city, not within the 38 you were organizing; that something must be done with them,—that they could not safely keep them longer, nor safely disband them. I could not see—can not yet—how it could wrong you, or the Regiments you were raising, for these 14 to move forward at once, provided yours, too, should be received when ready. But aware of my own ignorance in military matters, I sent to Genl. Scott to get his opinion whether the thing could be safely done, both as to the question of confusion, and also whether the Govt. could advantageously keep and use the whole. His answer was that the whole should come—of the 14[,]5 to come here, & 9 to Fortress Monroe. I thought the whole difficulty was solved, and directed an order to be made accordingly. I was even pleased with it; because I had been trying for two weeks to begin the collecting of a force at Fortress Monroe, and it now appeared as if this would begin.

Next day & after the committee had gone, I was brought to fear that a squabble was to arise between you and the committee, by which neither your Regiments nor theirs, would move in any reasonable time; to avoid which, I wrote one of the committee—Mr. Russell—to send them at once.

I am very loth to do any wrong; but I do not see yet wherein this was a wrong.

I certainly did not know that any Regiments especially under your control were to be sent forward by the committee; but I do not perceive the substantial wrong, even in such a case. That it may be a technical wrong, I can readily understand—but we are in no condition to waste time on technicalities.

The enthusiastic uprising of the people in our cause, is our great reliance; and we can not safely give it any check, even though it overflows, and runs in channels not laid down in any chart.

In ordering the 14 Regiments forward, no intimation was intended, that you were failing in activity, or in any duty. On the contrary, I acknowledge you have done, & are doing nobly; and for which I tender you my sincere thanks. Yours very truly


To Francis P. Blair, Jr.

Hon. F. P. Blair Washington D.C. May 18. 1861

My Dear Sir. We have a good deal of anxiety here about St. Louis. I understand an order has gone from the War Department to you, to be delivered or withheld in your discretion, relieving Gen. Harney from his command. I was not quite satisfied with the order when it was made, though on the whole I thought it best to make it; but since then I have become more doubtful of its propriety. I do not write now to countermand it; but to say I wish you would withhold it, unless in your judgement the necessity to the contrary is very urgent.

There are several reasons for this. We better have him a friend than an enemy. It will dissatisfy a good many who otherwise would be quiet. More than all, we first relieved him, then restored him, & now if we relieve him again, the public will ask, “why all this vacillation.”

Still if, in your judgment, it is indispensable let it be so. Yours very truly A LINCOLN

Memorandum: Military Arrests

[c. May 17, 1861]

Unless the necessity for these arbitrary arrests is manifest, and urgent, I prefer they should cease. A. LINCOLN

To Carl Schurz

Hon. Carl Schurz Washington, D.C.
My dear Sir: May 16. 1861

I have delayed so long to either Telegraph or write you, hoping to get the matter of which we spoke, into a satisfactory shape; but at last I have not succeeded. On Monday I was about to Telegraph you to proceed, but was arrested in it on the question of rank—that it would put you in command at Fortress Monroe.

Yesterday the New-York Committee were here; and their mission ended in their getting an order to move forward, from N.Y. city fourteen Regiments said to be there now—five to this city, and nine to Fortress Monroe. It did not occur to me till after I parted with the Committee, that probably your four german Regiments are included in this same fourteen. If so, they will either come here, or go to Fortress Monroe at once. I still hope you may be made Brig. Gen. of them; but I can not make it move smoothly just yet.

Write, or Telegraph me when you receive this. Yours as ever