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would have been in hot haste to have done it, not only to injure me, but to justify what they had done?
Sir, I have been in St. Petersburg, under the eye of the Czar; I have been in Vienna, subject to the sleepless vigilance of the Austrian police; I have been in Rome, under the government of the Pope; but under neither of these, the most despotic of all European governments, would they have dared thus to abuse my personal rights, with my American passport in my pocket, upon so flimsy a pretext.
I incline to the opinion that, by the systematic persecution and tyranny that has been practiced toward me, they are building up for me a future strength and popularity that I have never before commanded, but which, as I desire no political preferment, I really do not covet, and for the enjoyment of which I would not exchange one hour of that civil, religious, political, and personal freedom that I inherited from my ancestors, and which for sixty years I have enjoyed until now without interruption, and I vainly hoped had been secured for life-a freedom won by the toil, the sufferings, and the blood of my forefathers;
forefathers; a freedom for which your own illustrious grandsire was an able and efficient champion ; a freedom thus inherited no power under the sun has a right to dispossess me of except for some violation of law; and if this newly-organized government of yours claims such right, I am both free and proud to say that I abjure it now and forever ; in life and in the struggles of death will I abjure it.
I ask, Mr. Secretary, that you will take such steps in the premises as your own sense of duty and propriety may dictate.
But before I conclude, allow me, in justice to others, to say that there are many other cases under this roof involving as much outrage and wrong as in my own. There is nothing more to be alleged against Franklin Stearns than there is against me, and if there is, he is equally entitled to a trial. Here too is a minister of the Gospel, who, according to the representation of the press, thoroughly incensed against him, was arrested and imprisoned because he did not open his church on thanksgiving-day. Mr. Wardwell too, Mr. Halleck, Mr. Heckler, Mr. Williams, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Davis, Mr. Wigand, and many others, all men of families, of regular business pursuits, torn from their homes and thrown into prison, without a hearing and without the privilege of counsel, under this detestable, unwritten, and unknown code called s martial law.”
Great God! can a Virginian gentleman witness such scenes as these, and not have the blood to curdle in his veins? Can any man born under republican institutions know what is transpiring here, and not shudder at the contemplation of what it promises in the future? Mr. Randolph, come down to this jail and judge for yourself, if you attach any value to human freedom and human rights.
I ask no clemency for myself, or for my fellow-prisoners and fellow-sufferers—I only ask for all; and as a citizen of Virginia, although incarcerated nevertheless as a citizen who has forfeited none of his rights, I claim that they may all be confronted with their accusers, and subjected to a fair and impartial trial for the offenses with which they severally stand charged. Many of these gentlemen are strangers to me, but they are none the less entitled to my sympathy, and to such aid as I may be able to render them, and therefore I venture to express the earnest hope that a regular investigation may be instituted, without farther delay, for the punishment of the guilty and for the discharge of the innocent.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, JOHN M. BOTTS. P.S.-The consequences growing out of this communication will serve to show whether or not the Star Chamber, the Inquisition, and the Council of Three have been really transferred from the Old World into the heart and capital of Virginia.
J. M. B.
To this letter Mr. Randolph replied, promising that a court of inquiry should be convened at an early day; and, after more than three weeks' farther confinement, the court was appointed, consisting of one Colonel Tausel, the president of the court, who had openly declared before his appointment that I was not entitled to the benefit of an examination, but ought to be hung on the public square or to a lamp-post, Colonel Porter, who was a respectable gentleman, and an ignorant creature by the name of Brunell as judge advocate or recorder, who was incapable of making up his own record; and before this august tribunal I was summoned to appear. I declined the aid of counsel, and conducted this farce of a trial myself. After an investigation of some ten days, the record of which I would publish herewith but for its length and stupidity, this military tribunal submitted to the War Department the result of its conclusions, and thereupon the following orders were issued :
General Orders, No. 28. War Department, Adj. and Insp. Gen.'s Office, Richmond, April 25, 1862. A Court of Inquiry having assembled at Richmond pursuant to Special Orders, No. 81, April 9, 1862, from the adjutant and inspector general's office, to examine into the causes of the arrest of John Minor Botts, and
to report the facts in reference thereto, and whether, in the opinion of the Court, it is compatible with the public safety to discharge” the said John Minor Botts; and the Court having made such examination and reported the result, with the evidence taken in the case, to the Secretary of War, the following are his decision and orders thereupon:
“The Secretary of War, having considered the record of the examination in the case of John Minor Botts, and the report of Brigadier General J. H. Winder as to the practicability of confining him to his house and premises in the manner recommended by the Court of Inquiry, directs that he be discharged from confinement on his delivering to General Winder a written parole of honor to the following effect:
That, until otherwise permitted by the Department, he will sojourn in Lynchburg, Danville, or Raleigh, or in such other place in the interior as may be selected by himself, with the consent of the Department; that he will proceed without unnecessary delay to the place of his sojourn; that he will not depart therefrom, or go more than five miles from his residence; and that, while on parole, he will do nothing to the injury of the Confederate government, nor express any opinion tending to impair the confidence of the people in the capacity of the Confederate States to achiere their independence. “Mr. Botts's family will receive passports to join him, if desired." By command of the Secretary of War,
S. COOPER, Adj. and Insp. Gen.
While I was imprisoned, Captain Alexander, who was then the jailer, came into my room and commenced a conversation by saying, It is a great shame that a man like you should be confined in such a hole as this; this is no place for a man of your character, talents, and standing before the world. To which I replied, Well, sir, I am very much inclined to concur with you in that opinion. Why, then, am I kept here? He said, There is no reason why you should be, and, if you will be reasonable, you need not be. What do you mean by being reasonable? I asked. Why, if you will only say you will accept it, I will bring you a commission of brigadier general in the Confederate Army in half an hour, and by to-morrow morning at this time you shall be placed at the head of ten thousand men.
I looked him sternly in the face and said, Do you know the nature •of the proposition you make to me, and to whom you make it? He said he did. If, then, I were placed in command of ten thousand men tomorrow, do you know what would be the first thing I would do? He said, No; what would you do? I said, with much vehemence of manner, Before the sun went down, I would hang every scoundrel of you from Jeff. Davis down to you. He laughed, and said, If you would accept the commission, you would think better of that. I then said, By what authority do you tender me this commission ? He replied, No matter about that. If you will accept it, I'll pledge myself to bring it to you in half an hour. A moment's reflection satisfied me that I had been imprudent in rejecting the proposition in the manner I had, and I said, I am not in the vein to-day, and the conversation turned on other subjects.
On his leaving the room I committed the conversation to paper, and conveyed it by our under-ground railroad,” as we called it, to the room below, occupied by Mr. Stearns, telling him if the subject was broached again, I should endeavor, without committing myself, to manage to get the commission placed in my hands.
A few days after, Captain Alexander again came to my room, and again tendered the commission. I asked him who sent him to me with this offer. He said, Never mind; will you accept it? I said, You can not expect me to accept your proposition without knowing it will be carried out. Go and bring me the commission, and then I will give you
He replied, You can not expect me to bring you the commission without knowing it will be accepted. Say you will accept it, and I will swear to you to bring the commission in half an hour. I said, No, you can not catch me in that way; bring the commission first, and you shall have a prompt and final answer. He left me, saying, whenever I chose to take it, and could let him know, it was at my command.
But a few days had elapsed, when I was lying on my bed reading, about eight o'clock at night, when the captain came in and took a seat on the bedside, and said, You do not know how much it concerns me to see a man like you occupying this position. Why will you not accept that commission ? and by ten o'clock you can be at home under your own roof with your family. I said, You have not yet brought me the commission ; and I told you I would not give you an answer until I had seen the commission itself. Why do you not bring it to me? He replied, Only pledge yourself to accept it, and it shall be in your hands in half an hour. In that case, I said, you must have it with you or in your possession, otherwise it could not be obtained to-night. Never mind about that, said he, I will swear to do what I tell you if you say you will accept it. But he would not commit any body else unless I would first agree to ac
cept. All of this was regularly communicated, as was the first conversation, to my friend Stearns as it occurred.
On the 28th of April I received the following note from General Winder :
"Head-quarters, Department Henrico, Richmond, April 28, 1862. "JOIN MINOR BOTTS, Esq:
'Sir,-With this letter will be presented a parole for your signature. When signed by you you will be released; and I am instructed by the Secretary of War to say that on Wednesday next, before twelve o'clock, it is expected that you will inform me what locality you have selected, and when you will be ready to take your departure.
· Respectfully, your obedient servant,
"John H. WINDER, Brigadier General."
“ Richmond, Virginia, April 28, 1862. "I, John Minor Botts, do hereby accept the conditions proposed in General Orders, No. 26, April 22, 1862, from the adjutant and inspector general's office; and do pledge my sacred word and honor, until otherwise permitted by the Department, to sojourn in Lynchburg, Danville, or Raleigh, or in such other place in the interior as may be selected by myself with the consent of the Department; that I will proceed without unnecessary delay to the place of my sojourn; that I will not depart therefrom, or go more than five miles from my residence; and that while on parole I will do nothing to the injury of the Confederate government, nor express my opinion tending to impair the confidence of the people in the capacity of the Confederate States to achieve their independence.
66 JOHN M. BOTTS."
The above parole I accepted and signed, and, instead of appearing at the office of General Winder at or before twelve o'clock, I asked for an interview with the Secretary of War, which was appointed for eight o'clock on the next morning. After a somewhat protracted conversation and strong remonstrance against the injustice of sending me from home, which proved unavailing, I announced my readiness to comply with the terms of my parole, but expressed a preference for some retired place in the country rather than for a city residence, where I should be an object of curiosity and remark whenever I put my head out of the door, and asked that the following protest, which I read to the Secretary, should be made a part of the record.