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as commander of that Military Department, on the 1st of May, 1862, speedily satisfied a very considerable portion of the inhabitants, who had property at stake in the city and State, that the rebel authority could never be restored. There were, however, even among professed Unionists, many who devoted their time and energy rather to carping at the measures which the Government felt itself called upon to pursue, and to the promotion and adoption of their individual views, than to cordial co-operation with the President in his efforts to re-establish the forms of civil government upon a proper basis. It was in answer to such a complaint that the President wrote the following later :
CUTHBERT BULLITT, Esq., New Orleans, La. :
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 28, 1862.
SIR:-The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr. Thomas J. Durant has been shown to me. The writer appears to be an able, a dispassionate, and an entirely sincere man. The first part of the letter is devoted to an effort to show that the secession ordinance of Louisiana was adopted against the will of the majority of the people. This is probably true, and in that fact may be found some instruction. Why did they allow the ordinance to go into effect? Why did they not exert themselves? Why stand passive and allow themselves to be trodden down by a minority? Why did they not hold popular meetings, and have a convention of their own to express and enforce the true sentiments of the State? If pre-organization was against them, then why not do this now that the United States army is present to protect them? The paralyzer-the dead palsy -of the Government in the whole struggle is, that this class of men will do nothing for the Government-nothing for themselves, except demanding that the Government shall not strike its enemies, lest they be struck by accident.
Mr. Durant complains that, in various ways, the relation of master and slave is disturbed by the presence of our army; and he considers it particularly vexatious that this, in part, is done under cover of an act of Congress, while constitutional guarantees are superseded on the plea of military necessity. The truth is, that what is done and omitted about slaves is done and omitted on the same military necessity. It is a military necessity to have men and money; and we cannot get either, in sufficient numbers or amounts, if we keep from or drive from our lines slaves coming to them.
Mr. Durant cannot be ignorant of the pressure in this direction, nor of my efforts to hold it within bounds, till he, and such as he, shall have time to help themselves.
I am not posted to speak understandingly on the public regulations of which Mr. Durant complains. If experience shows any of them to be wrong, let them be set right. I think I can perceive in the freedom of trade which Mr. Durant urges, that he would relieve both friends and enemies from the pressure of the blockade. By this he would serve the enemy more effectively than the enemy is able to serve himself.
I do not say or believe that to serve the enemy is the purpose of Mr. Durant, or that he is conscious of any purposes other than national and patriotic ones. Still, if there were a class of men who, having no choice of sides in the contest, were anxious only to have quiet and comfort for themselves while it rages, and to fall in with the victorious side at the end of it, without loss to themselves, their advice as to the mode of conducting the contest would be precisely such as his.
He speaks of no duty, apparently thinks of none, resting upon Union men. He even thinks it injurious to the Union cause that they should be restrained in trade and passage, without taking sides. They are to touch neither a sail nor & pump-live merely passengers (" dead-heads" at that) -to be carried snug and dry throughout the storm and safely landed right side up. Nay, more-even a mutineer is to go untouched, lest these sacred passengers receive an accidental wound.
Of course, the rebellion will never be suppressed in Louisiana, if the professed Union men there will neither help to do it, nor permit the Government to do it without their help.
Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what is suggested by Mr. Durant. It does not lie in rounding the rough angles of the war, but in removing the necessity for the war. The people of Louisiana, who wish protection to person and property, have but to reach forth their hands and take it. Let them in good faith reinaugurate the national authority and set up a State Government conforming thereto under the Constitution. They know how to do it, and can have the protection of the army while doing it. The army will be withdrawn so soon as such Government can dispense with its presence, and the people of the State can then, upon the old terms, govern themselves to their own liking. This is very simple and easy.
If they will not do this, if they prefer to hazard all for the sake of destroying the Government, it is for them to consider whether it is probable I will surrender the Government to save them from losing all. If they decline what I suggest, you will scarcely need to ask what I will do.
What would you do in my position? Would you drop the war where it is, or would you prosecute it in future with elder-stalk squirts, charged with rose-water? Would you deal lighter blows rather than heavier ones? Would you give up the contest leaving every available means unapplied?
I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do more than I can, but I shall do all I can to save the Government, which is my sworn duty as well as
my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing. Yours very truly,
As time went on, however, the disposition of the citizens to exert themselves for the re-establishment of former civil relations increased, and preparations were accordingly made to hold an election in the fall of that year for members of the Congress of the United States. General Shepley had been appointed Military Governor of the State, and to him the President, in November, addressed the following letter on that subject:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 21, 1862. DEAR SIR:-Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that State. In my view there could be no possible object in such an election. We do not particularly need members of Congress from those States to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of Congress and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them and send them. To send a parcel of Northern men here as representatives, elected, as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous; and were I a member of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such man to a Yours, very truly,
Hon. G. F. SHEPLEY."
The election was held, and Messrs. Flanders and Hahn were chosen and admitted to their seats at the ensuing session, as has been already seen.
On the 23d of May, 1863, the various Union associations of New Orleans applied to the Military Governor of the State for authority to call a convention of the loyal citizens of Louisiana, for the purpose of framing a new State Constitution, and of re-establishing civil government under the Constitution of the United States. What they especially desired of him was that he should order a registration of the loyal voters of the State, and appoint commissioners of registration in each parish to register the names of all citizens who should take the oath of alle
giance to the Constitution of the United States, and repudiate allegiance to the rebel Confederacy. General Shepley, in reply, recognized fully the great importance of the proposed movement, but thought it of the utmost consequence that it should proceed as the spontaneous act of the people of the State, without the slightest appearance or suspicion of having been in any degree the result of military dictation. He consented to provide for the registration of such voters as might voluntarily come forward for the purpose of being enrolled, but deferred action upon the other points submitted to him until he could receive definite instructions on the subject from the Government at Washington.
In June, a committee of planters, recognizing the propriety of some movement for the re-establishment of civil authority in the State, and not concurring in the policy of those who proposed to form a new constitution, applied to the President, asking him to grant a full recognition of the rights of the State as they existed before the act of secession, so that they might return to their allegiance under the old Constitution of the State, and that he would order an election for State officers, to be held on the 1st Monday of November.
To this application the President made the following reply:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON June 19, 1968.
GENTLEMEN :-Since receiving your letter, reliable information has reached me that a respectable portion of the Louisiana people desire to amend their State Constitution, and contemplate holding a convention for that object. The fact alone, it seems to me, is sufficient reason why the General Government should not give the committee the authority you seek to act under the existing State Constitution. I may add, that while I do not perceive how such a committee could facilitate our military operations in Louisiana, I really apprehend it might be so used as to embarrass them.
As to an election to be held in November, there is abundant time without any order or proclamation from me just now. The people of Louisiana shall not lack an opportunity for a fair election for both Federal and State officers by want of any thing within my power to give them.
Your obedient servant,
After the appearance of the President's proclamation, the movement towards reconstruction in Louisiana assumed greater consistency, and was carried forward with greater steadiness and strength. On the 8th of January a very large Free State Convention was held at New Orleans, at which resolutions were adopted indorsing all the acts and proclamations of the. President, and urging the immediate adoption of measures for the restoration of the State to its old place in the Union. On the 11th, General Banks issued a proclamation, appointing an election for State officers on the 22d of February, who were to be installed on the 4th of March, and another election for delegates to a convention to revise the Constitution of the State on the first Monday in April. The old Constitution and laws of Louisiana were to be observed, except so far as they relate to slavery, "which," said General Banks, 'being inconsistent with the present condition of public affairs, and plainly inapplicable to any class of persons within the limits of the State, must be suspended, and they are now declared inoperative and void." The oath of allegiance required by the President in his proclamation, with the condition affixed to the elective franchise by the Constitution of Louisiana, was prescribed as constituting the qualifications of voters.
Under this order, parties were organized for the election of State officers. The friends of the National Government were divided, and two candidates were put in nomination for Governor, Hon. Michael Hahn being the regular nominee, and representing the supporters of the policy of the President, and Hon. B. F. Flanders being put in nomination by those who desired a more radical policy than the President had proposed. Both took very decided ground against the continued existence of slavery within the State. Hon. C. Roselius was nominated by that portion of the people who concurred in the wish for the return of Louisiana to the Union, and were willing to take the oath of allegiance prescribed by the President, but who nevertheless disapproved of the general policy of the Administration, especially on the subject of sla