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DOSTIE AND DURANT,
The names of Durant and Dostie are intimately associated with the political history of Louisiana during the rebellion. Both were natives of the State of New York. Both were self-made men. Dostie in his youth was a friend of liberty, and ever maintained its broad principles, which acted ever as a motive power and guiding star throughout his eventful life. Durant, in his youth, embraced the doctrines of slavery, and became an influential slaveholder. Dostie was by nature impulsive, large hearted and fearless. Durant was deliberate, politic and cowardly. Dostie was by nature a democrat —one of the people. Durant was an aristocrat—holding himself above the masses. Dostie drew the hearts of his friends to him by a magnetism which emanated from his honest, earnest soul. Durant repelled by his cold and studied manner. Dostie was a patriot; Durant a politician. Ambition was only a secondary consideration with Dostie. “Let us perish from the earth, if by our death equal rights and universal justice be promoted thereby,” were the words of Dostie. “My slave interests must not be disturbed by the United States Government,” were the words of Durant. Ay, and more | In every public act, even up to the eventful year of 1864, he expressed the sentiment, “No republican government must be established in Louisiana, wherein my fame is not conspicuous and my ambition is not gratified.” President Lincoln and his executive acts relating to Touisiana, and the established Free State government of 1864, were dear to the liberty-loving heart of Dostie, who regarded a word or an act against his authority in the light of sacrilege. The following correspondence may not prove uninteresting as connected with the history of New Orleans in 1864. “NEw York, July 26, 1864. “Hon. Henry Winter Davis, Baltimore, Maryland : “Dear Sir–The friends of freedom in Louisiana, thwarted in their efforts by the acts of the Executive at Washington, had placed their hopes on the bill guaranteeing us a republican form of government, which you reported to the House of Representatives, and which obtained such emphatic approval there and in the co-ordinate branch of Congress. We had watched its progress with anxiety, for we perceived it would give us relief from the incapacity, and, as too many had cause to believe, from the infidelity to freedom which had been the essential characteristics of Executive administration in our State. It is with the deepest mortification, therefore, we find a measure affording protection to loyal men by the only constitutional power known to the Government, defeated in its operation by the will of the Executive, seeking to perpetuate in Louisiana all that incapacity and selfishness can render odious to the citizens. “The executive is “unprepared to declare that the free State constitutions already adopted and installed in Arkansas and Louisiana shall be set aside and held for naught, etc.” “As to the assertion that a Free State constitution has been adopted in Louisiana, the Executive has fallen into a grave error. Wo Free State constitution had on the eighth day of July—nor as yet—been adopted or installed &n the fragment of Louisiana held by the military forces of the United States. “On the 24th of December, 1863, the Executive, in a letter addressed to the Major General commanding the Department of the Gulf, constituted that officer the “master.” “Mr. Hahn was installed as Governor in New Orleans on the fourth of March, 1864, and on the fifteenth of that month there was addressed to him the following letter:
“‘ExECUTIVE MANSION, “‘WASHINGTON, March 15, 1864. | “‘His Excellency, Michael Hahn, Governor of Louisiana: “‘Until further orders you are hereby invested with the powers exercised hitherto by the Military Governor of Louisiana. “‘Yours, truly, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”
“The missive is worthy of remark. It is signed by the incumbent of the Executive office, but not as President. It is not countersigned by the Secretary of State; and it bears not the seal of the Government. It is unofficial. Yet in effect it appoints an officer—Military Governor of a State—unknown to the Constitution and laws of the United States.
“The so-called Constitutional Convention now sitting in New Orleans was elected under the same usurped authority, and evinces the same aversion as the Governor to that principle, which in Louisiana can alone ‘establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility’—equality of all men before the law—the failure to recognize which is, indeed, a defect in your bill, not pointed out by the Executive. The work of this Convention all the friends of freedom in Louisiana hope and trust, will be rejected by the Congress, as emanating from an usurpation of power by the Executive, no matter what may be its provisions. “The journalists, politicians and public men of our country hold two sets of opinions, one for their private use, which they believe in, the other for public displays, so that what appears to be public opinion cannot be trusted as the opinion of the public. If this do not cease, the cause of liberty is in danger. Our leading men look too much to the law and the people:
“‘Full well they laugh, with counterfeited glee,
but in secret they deplore the calamity of a choice they dare not repudiate, from the unfounded fear that opposition would secure the success of an anti-national candidate. No nation will vote its own destruction, though the catastrophe may be accomplished by voting for incompetent men.
“There cannot be a difference of opinion as to the conduct of the Executive in stifling your bill, and thus prolonging arbitrary government over the loyal inhabitants of Louisiana, and defeating the will of the nation; and it is sincerely to be hoped that the Executive may yet be made to understand that the representatives of the people are the only power competent to organize civil government in the insurrectionary districts.
“I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
“THOMAS J. DURANT.”
“NEw ORLEANs, Dec. 29, 1864. “Hon. Henry L. Dawes, Chairman Committee on Elections, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.: “JDear Sir: I see by the newspapers that the Congressional delegation from Louisiana has been met by a protest from thirty-one citizens of Louisiana under the leadership of Thomas J. Durant. “The friendly spirit you manifested towards the Union men of Louisiana in your successful efforts for the admission of her Representatives to Congress in February, 1863, and the important official position you occupy with reference to questions of this kind, lead me to address you hurriedly some remarks with the view of enlightening you on the political antecedents of Durant. “The insidious efforts of this man to thwart and defeat the restoration of Louisiana to the Union, make it highly proper, if not necessary, that some notice should be taken of his movements. He appears to have the reputation abroad of being identified with the Free State movement here and to have caused many citizens of other States, including members of Congress, to believe him to be the Magnus Apollo of our cause. “During the reign of the Confederacy in this city he was one of its most obedient adherents. He conformed to the requirements for members of the bar and entered as one of the earliest and most active practitioners in the ‘Confederate States District Court.” In doing this he showed much more readiness than after the arrival of the Union fleet when he refused to practice his profession for some six months on account of having to take the oath. “Here is a specimen of Durant’s practice in the socalled ‘Confederate States District Court,” which may be