To Edward R. S. Canby

Executive Mansion,            Washington,
Major General Canby:        Dec 12, 1864.

I think it is probable that you are laboring under some misapprehension as to the purpose, or rather the motive of the government on two points—Cotton, and the new Louisiana State Government. It is conceded that the military operations are the first in importance; and as to what is indispensable to these operations, the Department Commander must be judge and master. But the other matters mentioned, I suppose to be of public importance also; and what I have attempted in regard to them, is not merely a concession to private interest and pecuniary greed.

As to cotton. By the external blockade, the price is made certainly six times as great as it was. And yet the enemy gets through at least one sixth part as much in a given period, say a year, as if there were no blockade, and receives as much for it, as he would for a full crop in time of peace. The effect in substance is, that we give him six ordinary crops, without the trouble of producing any but the first; and at the same time leave his fields and his laborers free to produce provisions. You know how this keeps up his armies at home, and procures supplies from abroad. For other reasons we cannot give up the blockade, and hence it becomes immensely important to us to get the cotton away from him. Better give him guns for it, than let him, as now, get both guns and ammunition for it. But even this only presents part of the public interest to get out cotton. Our finances are greatly involved in the matter. The way cotton goes now carries so much gold out of the country as to leave us paper currency only, and that so far depreciated, as that for every hard dollar’s worth of supplies we obtain, we contract to pay two and a half hard dollars hereafter. This is much to be regretted; and while I believe we can live through it at all events, it demands an earnest effort on the part of all to correct it. And if pecuniary greed can be made to aid us in such effort, let us be thankful that so much good can be got out of pecuniary greed.

As to the new State Government of Louisiana. Most certainly there is no worthy object in getting up a piece of machinery merely to pay salaries, and give political consideration to certain men. But it is a worthy object to again get Louisiana into proper practical relations with the nation; and we can never finish this, if we never begin it. Much good work is already done, and surely nothing can be gained by throwing it away.

I do not wish either cotton or the new State Government to take precedence of the military, while the necessity for the military remains; but there is a strong public reason for treating each with so much favor as may not be substantially detrimental to the military.

Allow me a word of explanation in regard to the telegram which you kindly forwarded to Admiral Faragut for me. That telegram was prompted by a piece of secret information inducing me to suspect that the use of a forged paper might be attempted on the Admiral, in order to base a claim that we had raised our own blockade.

I am happy in the hope that you are almost well of your late and severe wound Yours very truly,


To Edward R. S. Canby

                                                Washington, D.C.,
Major General Canby:       July 25. 1864.

Frequent complaints are made to me that persons endeavoring to bring in cotton in strict accordance with the trade regulations of the Treasury Department, are frustrated by seizures of District Attorneys, Marshals, Provost-Marshals and others, on various pretences, all looking to black-mail, and spoils, one way and another. I wish, if you can find time, you would look into this matter within your Department, and finding these abuses to exist, break them up, if in your power, so that fair dealing under the regulations, can proceed. The printed Regulations, no doubt, are accessable to you. If you find the abuses existing, and yet beyond your power, please report to me somewhat particularly upon the facts.

The bearer of this Shaffer, is one who, on behalf of himself and firm, makes complaint; but while he is my friend, I do not ask anything for him which can not be done for all honest dealers under the Regulations. Yours truly A. LINCOLN