To Nathaniel P. Banks

                                                   Executive Mansion,
Major General Banks        Washington, December 24. 1863.

Yours of the 6th. Inst. has been received, and fully considered. I deeply regret to have said or done anything which could give you pain, or uneasiness. I have all the while intended you to be master, as well in regard to re-organizing a State government for Louisiana, as in regard to the military matters of the Department; and hence my letters on reconstruction have nearly if not quite all been addressed to you. My error has been that it did not occur to me that Gov. Shepley or any one else would set up a claim to act independently of you; and hence I said nothing expressly upon the point. Language has not been guarded at a point where no danger was thought of. I now tell you that in every dispute, with whomsoever, you are master. Gov. Shepley was appointed to assist the Commander of the Department, and not to thwart him, or act independently of him. Instructions have been given directly to him, merely to spare you detail labor, and not to supersede your authority. This, in it’s liability to be misconstrued, it now seems was an error in us. But it is past. I now distinctly tell you that you are master of all, and that I wish you to take the case as you find it, and give us a free-state re-organization of Louisiana, in the shortest possible time. What I say here is to have a reasonable construction. I do not mean that you are to withdraw from Texas, or abandon any other military measure which you may deem important. Nor do I mean that you are to throw away available work already done for re-construction; or that war is to be made upon Gov. Shepley, or upon any one else, unless it be found that they will not co-operate with you, in which case, and in all cases, you are master while you remain in command of the Department.

My thanks for your successful and valuable operations in Texas. Yours as ever

A. LINCOLN

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