To William L. Vance
November 22, 2012 Leave a comment
Sir: Washington, Nov. 22, 1862.
You tell me you have in your hands some two hundred and seventy thousand dollars of “Confederate Scrip” which was forced upon Union men of Kentucky, in exchange for supplies, by the rebels during their late raid into that State; and you wish government authority for you to take this Scrip into the Cotten-States, exchange it for cotten if found practicable, and to bring the cotten out.
While I have felt great anxiety to oblige you, and your friends, in this matter, I feel constrained to decline it. It would come to something, or it would come to nothing—that is, you would get cotten for the Scrip, or you would not. If you should get none, the effort would have been a useless failure. If you should get any, to precisely that extent, this government would have aided in giving currency to this Scrip—that is, men seeing that the Scrip would bring cotten, would gladly give produce for the scrip; and hence a scramble for it, as for gold would ensue. If your two hundred and seventy thousand dollars, was to be the sole instance, I would gladly risk it. But it would not be the beginning, or, at most, only the beginning. Having begun, I could not stop. What I had done for some, I must do for others. All that sort of Scrip now in Kentucky, and much not yet in Kentucky, would find it’s way into Union-hands and be presented under the rule. We all know how easily oaths are furnished, when required, in transactions of this sort. And the thing would become even broader yet. Men who have been robbed out-right by the rebels, without even receiving scrip would appeal, (and with quite as equitable a case) to be permitted a means of indemnity, by leave to go in and bring out cotten. This would run till at length I should have to abandon all restraint, or put a stop to what it is now much easier to not begin.