To Isham G. Harris

To His Excellency the Governor of the State Executive Department
of Tennessee— Washington, D.C.
Nashville Tenn. May [1?] 1861

Sir: Yours of the 29th. ultimo, calling my attention to the supposed seizure, near Cairo, Illinois, of the Steamboat C. E. Hillman, and claiming that the said boat and it’s cargo are the property of the State of Tennessee and her citizens; and demanding to know whether the seizure was made by the authority of this Government, or is approved by it, is duly received.

In answer I have to say this Government has no official information of such seizure;  but assuming that the seizure was made, and that the cargo consisted chiefly of munitions of War owned by the State of Tennessee, and passing into the control of it’s Governor, this Government avows the seizure, for the following reasons.

A legal call was recently made upon the said Governor of Tennessee to furnish a quota of militia to suppress an insurrection against the United States, which call said Governor responded to by a refusal, couched in disrespectful and malicious language. This Government therefore infers that munitions of War passing into the hands of said Governor, are intended to be used against the United States; and the government will not indulge the weakness of allowing it, so long as it is in it’s power to prevent. This Government will not, at present, question, but that the State of Tennessee, by a majority of it’s citizens, is loyal to the Federal Union, and the government holds itself responsible in damages for all injuries it may do to any who may prove to be such.

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