To Stephen A. Hurlbut

Private                                  Executive Mansion
Major General Hurlbut     Washington, Nov. 14. 1864

Few things, since I have been here, have impressed me more painfully than what, for four or five months past, has appeared as bitter military opposition to the new State Government of Louisiana. I still indulged some hope that I was mistaken in the fact; but copies of a correspondence on the subject, between Gen. Canby and yourself, and shown me to-day, dispel that hope. A very fair proportion of the people of Louisiana have inaugerated a new State Government, making an excellent new constitution—better for the poor black man than we have in Illinois. This was done under military protection, directed by me, in the belief, still sincerely entertained, that with such a nucleous around which to build, we could get the State into position again sooner than otherwise. In this belief a general promise of protection and support, applicable alike to Louisiana and other states, was given in the last annual message. During the formation of the new government and constitution, they were supported by nearly every loyal person and opposed by every secessionist. And this support, and this opposition, from the respective stand points of the parties, was perfectly consistent and logical. Every Unionist ought to wish the new government to succeed; and every disunionist must desire it to fail. It’s failure would gladden the heart of Slidell in Europe, and of every enemy of the old flag in the world. Every advocate of slavery naturally desires to see blasted, and crushed, the liberty promised the black man by the new constitution. But why Gen. Canby and Gen. Hurlbut should join on the same side is to me incomprehensible.

Of course, in the condition of things at New-Orleans, the military must not be thwarted by the civil authority; but when the constitutional convention, for what it deems a breach of previlege, arrests an editor, in no way connected with the military, the military necessity for insulting the Convention, and forcibly discharging the editor, is difficult to perceive. Neither is the military necessity for protecting the people against paying large salaries, fixed by a Legislature of their own choosing, very apparant. Equally difficult to perceive is the military necessity for forcibly interposing to prevent a bank from loaning it’s own money to the State. These things, if they have occurred, are, at the best, no better than gratuitous hostility. I wish I could hope that they may be shown to not have occurred. To make assurance against misunderstanding, I repeat that in the existing condition of things in Louisiana, the military must not be thwarted by the civil authority; and I add that on points of difference the commanding general must be judge and master. But I also add that in the exercise of this judgment and control, a purpose, obvious, and scarcely unavowed, to transcend all military necessity, in order to crush out the civil government, will not be overlooked. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

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Draft of a Communication to Stephen A. Hurlbut

Executive Mansion,
Washington, [c.August 15?] 186[3]

The within discusses a difficult subject—the most difficult with which we have to deal. The able bodied male contrabands are already employed by the Army. But the rest are in confusion and destitution. They better be set to digging their subsistence out of the ground. If there are plantations near you, on either side of the river, which are abandoned by their owners, first put as many contrabands on such, as they will hold—that is, as can draw subsistence from them. If some still remain, get loyal men, of character in the vicinity, to take them temporarily on wages, to be paid to the contrabands themselves—such men obliging themselves to not let the contrabands be kidnapped, or forcibly carried away. Of course, if any voluntarily make arrangements to work for their living, you will not hinder them. It is thought best to leave details to your discretion subject to the provisions of the acts of Congress & the orders of the War Department.

By direction of the President.

To Stephen A. Hurlbut

                                                               Executive Mansion,
My dear General Hurlbut:            Washington, July 31, 1863.

Your letter by Mr. Dana was duly received. I now learn that your resignation has reached the War Department. I also learn that an active command has been assigned you by Gen. Grant. The Secretary of War and Gen. Halleck are very partial to you, as you know I also am. We all wish you to re-consider the question of resigning; not that we would wish to retain you greatly against your wish and interest, but that your decision may be at least a very well considered one.

I understand that Senator Sebastian of Arkansas thinks of offering to resume his place in the Senate. Of course the Senate, and not I, would decide whether to admit or reject him. Still I should feel great interest in the question. It may be so presented as to be one of the very greatest national importance; and it may be otherwise so presented, as to be of no more than temporary personal consequence to him.

The emancipation proclamation applies to Arkansas. I think it is valid in law, and will be so held by the courts. I think I shall not retract or repudiate it. Those who shall have tasted actual freedom I believe can never be slaves, or quasi slaves again. For the rest, I believe some plan, substantially being gradual emancipation, would be better for both white and black. The Missouri plan, recently adopted, I do not object to on account of the time forending the institution; but I am sorry the beginning should have been postponed for seven years, leaving all that time to agitate for the repeal of the whole thing. It should begin at once, giving at least the new-born, a vested interest in freedom, which could not be taken away. If Senator Sebastian could come with something of this sort from Arkansas, I at least should take great interest in his case; and I believe a single individual will have scarcely done the world so great a service. See him, if you can, and read this to him; but charge him to not make it public for the present. Write me again. Yours very truly.

A. LINCOLN

To Stephen A. Hurlbut

Major General Hurlbut              Washington, D.C.,
Memphis Tenn.                             May 22. 1863

We have news here in the Richmond newspapers of 20th. & 21st. including a despatch from Gen. Joe Johnson himself, that on 15th. or 16th. (a little confusion as to the day) Grant beat Pemberton & Loring near Edwards’ Station, at the end of a nine hours fight, driving Pemberton over the Big Black & cutting Loring off, & driving him South to Chrystal-Springs 25 miles below Jackson. Joe Johnson telegraphed all this, except about Loring, from his camp between Brownsville & Lexington, on the 18th. Another despatch indicates that Grant was moving against Johnson on the 18th.

A. LINCOLN