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.”


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