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“I. Do you consider the laws of the State in relation to slavery in operation at the present time?

"II. Can negroes receive equal justice with white persons without reference to their social condition previous to the war in the court under your jurisdiction ?

“I have the honor to be,

“Very respectfully your obdt. serv't, (“ Signed)

Geó. H. HANKS, “ Colonel and Superintendent of Negro Labor." The Recorder evaded the responsibility of a legal opinion in reply, and sent the following note to Attorney General Lynch:


NEW ORLEANS, June 17th, 1864. “To B. L. Lynch, Esq., Attorney General:

Sir: The accompanying communication addressed to me by Colonel Hanks was this day received, and is respectfully referred to you for answer.

“Yours Respectfully, (“Signed)


' Recorder 2d and 3d Districts.” The following extract is from the official opinion of Attorney General B. L. Lynch, rendered on the 18th of June, 1864, in reply to the communication of Colonel Hanks :

“On the 22d of September, 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, setting forth, that on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof should then be in rebellion against the United States, should then, thenceforth and forever be free.'

“Furthermore the President announced that, on the 1st day of January, 1863, he would, by proclamation,

designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people therein, respectively, should then be in rebellion against the United States.

"" The President, on the first day of January, 1863, did accordingly issue his proclamation, declaring the State of Louisiana to be one of the States then in rebellion, and proclaimed that all persons held as slaves within that State, with the exception of those in certain Parishes, were and should be thenceforth free.

“The Parishes exempted from the operation of the Emancipation Proclamation were the following: St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, which excepted Parishes were left in the condition as though the proclamation had not been issued.

“On the 11th of January, 1864, Major General Banks issued a proclamation, abolishing slavery in the above named thirteen Parishes, exempted in the President's Proclamation. This proclamation was not disapproved, and perhaps was suggested by President Lincoln.

“ The present State Government was re-organized under the constitution and laws of Louisiana, except so much of the said constitution and laws as recognize, regulate, or relate to slavery, which being inconsistent with the present condition of public affairs, and plainly inapplicable to any class of persons existing within its limits, was suspended and declared to be inoperative and void.

“Whether the President and his subordinate, General Banks, in their action were warranted by the constitution of the United States upon military necessity, need not be enquired into here. ` I believe they were constitutionally empowered to issue and enforce the proclamations aforesaid. Be that, however, as it may, you and I, and loyal citizens of Louisiana have sworn to support those proclamations, and abide by them so long as they are not declared to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the nation.

“I am, therefore, of opinion that all negroes and persons of color in the State of Louisiana are free de jure; that all negroes and colored persons in Louisiana, within the Federal lines are free de jure et defacto. : I think they have a legal right to testify as witnesses in Courts of Justice, for and against white persons, as well as each other; that they may sue and be sued in all cases ; that they are entitled to trial by Jury, to the writ of Habeas Corpus; in short, that they stand on the same footing before the law as' white aliens residing in the


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Although through politic motives on the part of Durant, there was no conflict between Durant and Dostie in

many of the acts favoring the great movements of the cause of freedom in Louisiana, when the Free State government was attacked by Durant, the antagonism between the two men became most strongly marked.



August 13th, 1864, the friends of a free Constitution met in New Orleans to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and to express their approbation of the new Constitution which was to be submitted to the people of the State on the 5th of September.

A series of political meetings were proposed, for the purpose of obtaining a united support for the Free State condidates for Congress. On the 29th of August the delegates of the nominating Convention met at Liberty Hall, and proceeded to make choice of candidates for Congress which resulted as follows: First District, M. F. Bonzano ; Second District, Col. A. P. Field ; Third District, W. D. Mann. Judge Abell announced himself an independent candidate for Congress, in opposition to Mr. Bonzano. Said Dr. Dostie, in referring to the two last named candidates, at a republican meeting : “Gentlemen, you have now before you two candidates for Congress, both members of the late Convention, one in favor of slavery, the other the friend of liberty-which will you send to our National Councils to work for the people of Louisiana ? Abell, the advocate of oppression,

or Benzano, the lover of freedom.” “ Bonzano !” was the cry of the people.

In an address before a Union meeting, Dr. Dostie gives the following reasons for announcing himself an independent candidate for Congress against A. P. Field: “For the first time in my life I appear


you under circumstances of embarrassment. For the first time do I stand before you voluntarily as an aspirant for office.

“ You all know that I hold an office which I did rot seek. I refused the office of Secretary of State, and twice was the Auditorship offered me before I consented to accept it. Before the war I followed a profession which yielded me every desirable comfort, and I never was an office seeker.

“But now I do ask your suffrages for the high and important position of a Representative to Congress. Not that I have the vanity to suppose myself more competent for that position than any other, but the Convention last night nominated Col. A. P. Field, whom you all know as the champion of the Masonic Hall clique—and as a foremost defender of Copperheadismthe friend of the Voorhees and the Vallandigham school. You know how I interrogated him a few nights ago, and how he evaded declaring himself for the new Constitution. How did he go to Congress? You all know how it was. And how, after Congress sent him home, they kindly gave him fifteen hundred dollars for his visit. I do not want a gentleman of such principles—allied to Copperheadism-to represent redeemed and disenthralled Louisiana in the Congress of my country. I am his equal in all the virtues of manhood—I am his superior

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