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land to cover Washington. Another when Stanton CHAP. VIII. with several other members of the Cabinet signed a protest against McClellan's being placed in command of the Army of the Potomac after Pope's defeat in Virginia. In this instance these Cabinet signers had the good sense not to send their protest to Mr. Lincoln. Still a third when Stanton made an order giving Bishop Ames control of the Methodist churches which had fallen into our hands in the South, in plain violation of a prior letter from the President that the Government must not "undertake to run the churches." In these and similar cases Stanton yielded readily. One authentic case remains where the trial of will between the two men was brought to the point of a sharper issue. It is related by General James B. Fry, who witnessed the scene. Its beginning is sufficiently stated in the following order, made by Lincoln on September 1, 1864:
It is represented to me that there are at Rock Island, Nlinois, as rebel prisoners of war, many persons of Northern and foreign birth who are unwilling to be exchanged and sent South, but who wish to take the oath of allegiance and enter the military service of the Union. Colonel Huidekoper, on behalf of the people of some parts of Pennsylvania, wishes to pay the bounties the Government would have to pay to proper persons of this class, have them enter the service of the United States, and be credited to the localities furnishing the bounty money. He will therefore proceed to Rock Island, ascertain the names of such persons (not including any who have attractions Southward), and telegraph them to the Provost-Marshal-General here, whereupon direction will be given to discharge the persons named upon their taking the oath of allegiance; and upon the official evidence being furnished that they shall have been duly received
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CHAP. VIII. and mustered into the service of the United States, their
number will be credited as may be directed by Colonel Huidekoper.
From what followed we may be certain that the President did not understand the full scope and effect of the order, and when Stanton learned all the circumstances he refused to carry it out, and upon Lincoln's reiterating it, refused a second time. General Fry, who was the provost-marshal-general having special charge of such questions, thus continues his narrative:
Then Lincoln went in person to Stanton's office, and I was called there by the latter to state the facts in the case. I reported to the two high officials, as I had previously done to the Secretary alone, that these men already belonged to the United States, being prisoners of war; that they could not be used against the Confederates; that they had no relation whatever to the county to which it was proposed they should be credited; that all that was necessary towards enlisting them in our army for Indian service was the Government's release of them as prisoners of war; that to give them bounty and credit them to a county which owed some of its own men for service against the Confederates would waste money and deprive the army operating against a powerful enemy of that number of men, etc. Stanton said: “Now, Mr. President, those are the facts, and you must see that your order cannot be executed.” Lincoln sat upon a sofa with his legs crossed, and did not say a word until the Secretary's last remark. Then he said, in a somewhat positive tone: “Mr. Secretary, I reckon you'll have to execute the order.” Stanton replied with asperity: “Mr. President, I cannot do it. The order is an improper one, and I cannot execute it.” Lincoln fixed his eye upon Stanton, and in a firm voice, and with an accent that clearly showed his determination, he said: “Mr. Secretary, it will have to be done.” Stanton then realized that he was overmatched. He had made a
square issue with the President and been defeated, not- CHAP. VIII. withstanding the fact that he was in the right. Upon an James B. intimation from him I withdrew and did not witness his
New York surrender. A few minutes after I reached my office I re
“ Tribune," ceived instructions from the Secretary to carry out the President's order.
It must not be assumed from the termination of the above incident that Mr. Lincoln wished either to humiliate the Secretary of War or compel him to violate his convictions of duty. In the interim between General Fry's withdrawal from the room and the Secretary's acquiescence Lincoln had doubtless explained to Stanton, with that irresistible frankness and kindness with which he carried all his points of controversy, the reasons for his insistence, which he immediately further put upon record for the Secretary's justification in the following letter to General Grant, dated September 22, 1864: "I send this as an explanation to you, and to do justice to the Secretary of War. I was induced, upon pressing applications, to authorize agents of one of the districts of Pennsylvania to recruit in one of the prison depots in Illinois; and the thing went so far before it came to the knowledge of the Secretary that, in my judgment, it could not be abandoned without greater evil than would follow its going through. I did not know at the time that you had protested against that class of thing being done; and I now say that while this particular job must be completed, no other of the sort will be authorized, without an understanding with you, if at all. The Secretary of War is wholly 1864 MB. free of any part in this blunder.""