Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To William B. Campbell and Others [1]

Executive Mansion,
Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 1864.

Messrs. Wm. B. Campbell, Thos. A. R. Nelson, James T. P. Carter, John Williams, A. Blizzard, Henry Cooper, Bailie Peyton, John Lellyett, Em. Etheridge, John D. Perryman:

Gentlemen: On the 15th day of this month, as I remember, a printed paper, with a few manuscript interlineations, called a protest, with your names appended thereto, and accompanied by another printed paper purporting to be a proclamation by Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, and also a manuscriptPage  59Page  60Page  61Page  62 paper purporting to be extracts from the Code of Tennessee, was laid before me. The Protest, Proclamation and Extracts are respectively as follows:

To his Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States:

SIR: The undersigned, loyal citizens of the United States and of the State of Tennessee, on our own behalf and on behalf of the loyal people of our State, ask leave to submit this Protest against the Proclamation of his Excellency Andrew Johnson, Military Governor, ordering an election to be held for President and Vice President, under certain regulations and restrictions therein set forth. A printed copy of said proclamation is herewith enclosed.

The Constitution of the United States provides that ``Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors,'' &c. Under this provision of the Federal Constitution, the Legislature of Tennessee, years before the present rebellion, prescribed the mode of election to be observed, which will be found to differ essentially from the mode prescribed by the Military Governor. We herewith enclose a copy of the Law of Tennessee governing the holding of said election.

The Military Governor expressly assumes, by virtue of authority derived from the President, to so alter and amend the election law of Tennessee, (enacted under authority of the Constitution of the United States, as above set forth,) as to make the same conform to his own edict as set forth in the proclamation aforesaid.

He assumes so as to modify our law as to admit persons to vote at the said election who are not entitled to vote under the law and the Constitution of Tennessee. Instance this: our Constitution and Law require that each voter shall be ``a citizen of the county wherein he may offer his vote, for six months next preceding the day of election;'' while the Governor's order only requires that he shall (with other qualifications named) be a citizen of Tennessee for six months, &c. This provision would admit to vote many persons not entitled by law.

We will, for the sake of brevity, pass over some less important points of conflict between the proclamation and the law, but will instance in this place another. By our law it is provided that the polls shall be opened in every civil district in each county in the state; but the proclamation provides only for their being opened at one place in each county. This provision would put it out of the power of many legal voters to exercise the elective franchise.

We solemnly protest against these infringements of our law, conflicting as they do, with the very letter of the Federal Constitution, because they are without authority, and because they will prevent a free, fair, and true expression of the will of the loyal people of Tennessee.

But we protest still more emphatically against the most unusual and impracticable test oath which it is proposed to require of all citizen voters in Tennessee. A citizen qualified to vote, and whose loyalty cannot be ``disproved by other testimony,'' is to be required to swear, first, that he ``will henceforth support the Constitution of the United States, and defend it against all enemies.'' This obligation we are willing to renew daily; but this is not yet deemed a sufficient test of loyalty. He is required to make oath and subscribe to a mass of vain repetitionsPage  63 concerning his activity as a friend of the Union and the enemy of its enemies---concerning his desires his hopes and fears---and that he finds it in his heart to rejoice over the scenes of blood, and of wounds, of anguish and death, wherein his friends, his kindred, his loved ones are slain, or maimed, or made prisoners of war---whereby the land of his birth or adoption is made desolate, and lamentation and mourning are spread over the whole nation. While all the civilized world stands aghast in contemplation of the unequalled horrors of our tremendous strife, the citizen of Tennessee is called upon by her Military Governor, under your authority, to swear that in these things he finds occasion to rejoice! As if this were still not enough, the citizen is further required to swear to the indefinite prolongation of this war, as follows: ``That I will cordially oppose all armistices or negotiations for peace with rebels in arms, until the Constitution of the United States and all laws and proclamations made in pursuance thereof shall be established over all the people of every State and Territory embraced within the National Union;'' until (in brief) the war shall be at an end. Now, we freely avow to your Excellency, and to the world, that we earnestly desire the return of peace and good-will to our now unhappy country---that we seek neither pleasure, profit, nor honor in the perpetuation of war---that we should feel bound, as Christians, as patriots and as civilized men---that we are bound by the oaths we have taken---to countenance and encourage any negotiations which may be entered into by the proper authorities with the intent to restore peace and union under the Constitution we have sworn to support and defend. We should be traitors to our country, false to our oaths---false, indeed, to the primary clause of the oath we are now discussing, to oppose such negotiations. We cannot consent to swear at the ballot-box a war of extermination against our countrymen and kindred, or to prolong by our opposition, for a single day after it can be brought to an honorable and lawful conclusion, a contest the most sanguinary and ruinous that has scourged mankind.

You will not have forgotten, that in the month of July last, you issued the following proclamation:

``Executive Mansion,

``To whom it may concern: Washington, July 8 [18], 1864.

``Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points; and the bearer or bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.

``ABRAHAM LINCOLN.''

This is certainly a proposition to treat with rebels in arms---with their chiefs. Are we now to understand by this proclamation of one acting under your authority, and himself a candidate with you for the second office, that even the above proposition is withdrawn---that you will henceforth have no negotiations upon any terms, but unrelenting war to the bitter end? Or, are we to understand, that while you hold this proposition open, or yourself free to act as your judgment may dictate,Page  64 we, the citizens of Tennessee, shall swear to OPPOSE your negotiations?

In the next breath, the voter who has been thus qualified, is required to swear that he will ``heartily aid and assist the loyal people in whatever measures may be adopted for the attainment of these ends.'' Adopted by whom? The oath does not say. We cannot tell what measures may be adopted. We cannot comment upon the absurdity of the obligation here imposed, without danger of departing from that respectful propriety of language which we desire to preserve in addressing the Chief Magistrate of the American people. But this is a clause of an oath which the candidate for the Vice Presidency requires at the lips of the loyal and qualified voters of Tennessee, before these citizens shall be allowed to vote for or against you and himself at the coming election!

For these reasons, and others, which, for the sake of brevity, we omit, we solemnly protest against the interference of the Military Governor with the freedom of the elective franchise in Tennessee. We deny his authority and yours, to alter, amend, or annul any law of Tennessee. We demand that Tennessee be allowed to appoint her Electors as expressly provided by the Federal Constitution, which you have sworn to support, protect, and defend, in the manner which the Legislature thereof has prescribed. And to that end we respectfully demand of you, as the principal under whose authority this order has been issued, that the same shall be revoked. We ask that all military interference shall be withdrawn so far as to allow the loyal men of Tennessee a full and free election. By the loyal men of Tennessee we mean those who have not participated in the rebellion, or given it aid and comfort; or who may have complied with such terms of amnesty as have been offered them under your authority.

On the 8th day of December, 1863, you, as President, issued a Proclamation, declaring that ``a full pardon is hereby granted, with restoration of all rights of property,'' &c., to each of our citizens having participated, directly or by implication, in the existing rebellion, (with certain exceptions,) ``upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate.'' And it is further provided in the Proclamation aforesaid, that in the contingency of the reorganization of a State Government in Tennessee, or certain other States named, the persons having taken the oath referred to, being otherwise qualified by the election law of the State, shall be entitled to vote. The undersigned would state, that many of our citizens have complied in good faith with the terms of amnesty proposed in your Proclamation aforesaid; and are, therefore, by reason of the full pardon granted them, fully entitled to vote and exercise all other rights belonging to loyal citizens, without let or hindrance; and we respectfully appeal to you, as President of the United States, to make good your promise of pardon to these citizens, by the removal of all other and further hindrance to their exercise of the elective franchise.

But if it be claimed upon the plea of military necessity, that guards and restrictions shall be thrown around the ballot-box in Tennessee, we still ask the withdrawal of the Proclamation of the Military Governor, because the conditions thereby imposed upon the loyal men of Tennessee as a qualification for voting, are irrelevant, unreasonable,Page  65 and not in any sense a test of loyalty. But they pledge the citizen to oppose the lawful authorities in the discharge of their duty. The oath required is only calculated to keep legal and rightful voters from the polls. We suggest that no oath be required but such as is prescribed by law. Our people will not hesitate, however, to take the usual oath of loyalty---for example, in the language of the primary clause of the oath in question: ``That I will henceforth support the Constitution of the United States, and defend it against the assaults of its enemies.'' Denying your right to make any departure from the law in the case, we shall, however, feel no hardship in this.

The convention to which Governor Johnson refers was a mere partisan meeting, having no authority, and not representing the loyal men of Tennessee, in any sense.

The names of the signers of this protest have been placed before the people of Tennessee as candidates for Electors, who, if chosen, are expected to cast the electoral vote of Tennessee for George B. McClellan for President, and George H. Pendleton for Vice President. By virtue of such position, it becomes our province especially to appear before you in the attitude we do. We are aware that grave questions may arise, in any event, with regard to the regularity of the vote in Tennessee, in consequence of the partially disorganized condition of the State. The friends of your re-election, however, announced an electoral ticket; and the public became aware that preparations were being made for the holding of the election, leaving that matter no longer a question. Some time thereafter, our electoral ticket was placed before the public, and within a few days followed the proclamation complained of. We, for ourselves and those we represent, are willing to leave all questions involving the right of Tennessee to participate in the election to the decision of competent authority.

For the State at Large.

WM. B. CAMPBELL, of Wilson County.

THOS. A. R. NELSON, of Washington county.

For the Districts.

JAMES T. P. CARTER, of Carter county.

JOHN WILLIAMS, of Knox county.

A. BLIZARD, of McMinn county.

HENRY COOPER, of Bedford county.

BAILIE PEYTON, of Sumner county.

JOHN LELLYETT, of Davidson county.

EM. ETHERIDGE, of Weakley county.

JOHN D. PERRYMAN, of Shelby county.

PROCLAMATION.

BY THE GOVERNOR.

State of Tennessee,

Nashville, Tenn. Sept 30th, 1864. Executive Department,

Whereas, a respectable portion of the loyal people of Tennessee, representing a large number of the counties of the State, and supposed toPage  66 reflect the will of the Union men in their respective counties, recently held a convention in the city of Nashville, in which, among other things touching the re-organization of the State, they with great unanimity adopted the following resolutions:

2. Resolved, That the people of Tennessee who are now and have been attached to the National Union, do hold an election for President and Vice President in the ensuing election in November.

3. That the electors shall be the following and no others; the same being free white men, twenty-one years of age, citizens of the United States, and for six months previous to the election, citizens of the State of Tennessee---

1st. All who have voluntarily borne arms in the service of the United States during the present war, and who are either in the service or have been honorably discharged.

2d. All the known active friends of the Government of the United States in each county.

4. Resolved, That the citizen electors designated in the foregoing resolutions shall, at least fifteen days before the election, register their names with an agent to be appointed for that purpose, and no citizen not thus registered shall be allowed to vote. Such registration shall be open to the public for inspection, and to be executed according to such regulations as may hereafter be prescribed: Provided that the officers of the election, in the discharge of their duty, may reject any party so registered on proof of disloyalty.

5. Resolved, That, as means for ascertaining the qualification of the voters, the registers and officers holding the election may examine the parties on oath touching any matter of fact. And each voter, before depositing his vote, shall be required to take and subscribe the following oath, viz:

I solemnly swear that I will henceforth support the Constitution of the United States, and defend it against the assaults of all enemies; that I am an active friend of the Government of the United States, and the enemy of the so-called Confederate States; that I ardently desire the suppression of the present rebellion against the Government of the United States; that I sincerely rejoice in the triumph of the armies and navies of the United States, and in the defeat and overthrow of the armies, navies, and of all armed combinations in the interest of the socalled Confederate States; that I will cordially oppose all armistices or negotiations for peace with rebels in arms, until the Constituion of the United States and all laws and proclamations made in pursuance thereof, shall be established over all the people of every State and Territory embraced within the National Union, and that I will heartily aid and assist the loyal people in whatever measures may be adopted for the attainment of these ends; and further, that I take this oath freely and voluntarily, and without mental reservation. So help me God.

Said oath being prima facie evidence, subject to be disapproved by other testimony.

6. Resolved, That the polls be opened at the county seat, or some other suitable place in each county, and the ballot-box be so guarded and protected as to secure to electors a free, fair, and impartial election, and that polls also be opened for the convenience of the soldiers, at such places as may be accessible to them.

Page  67And whereas, it further appears from the proceedings of said Convention, ``That the Military Governor of the State of Tennessee is requested to execute the foregoing resolutions in such manner as he may think best subserves the interests of the Government.''

And whereas I, Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of the State of Tennessee, being anxious to co-operate with the loyal people of the State, and to encourage them in all laudable efforts to restore the State to law and order again, and to secure the ballot-box against the contamination of treason by every reasonable restraint that can be thrown around it, I do therefore order and direct that an election for President and Vice President of the United States of America be opened and held at the county seat, or other suitable place in every county in the State of Tennessee, upon the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the month of November next, at which all citizens and soldiers, being free white men, twenty-one years of age, citizens of the United States, and for six months prior to the election citizens of the State of Tennessee, who have qualified themselves by registration, and who take the oath prescribed in the foregoing resolutions, shall be entitled to vote, unless said oath shall be disproved by other testimony, for the candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.

And to the end that the foregoing resolutions, which are made part of this proclamation, may be faithfully executed, and the local citizens of the State, and none others, be permitted to exercise the right of suffrage I do hereby appoint the several gentlemen whose names are affixed to this proclamation, to aid in said election, and superintend the registration of the loyal voters in their respective counties, as provided by the fourth resolution above quoted.

But as the day of election is near at hand, and there may be a difficulty in completing the registration within the time limited, it is not intended that the registration be an indispensable prerequisite to the qualification of the voter; and in such cases, where it is impracticable, and where the voter is of known and established loyalty, he shall be entitled to vote, notwithstanding he may not have registered his name as required by the foregoing resolution.

The election shall be opened, conducted, returns made, &c., in all respects as provided by the 4th chapter of the ``Code of Tennessee,'' except so far as the same is modified by this proclamation.

But in cases where the County Court fail or neglect to appoint inspectors or judges of election, and there is no sheriff or other civil officer in the county qualified by law to open and hold said election, the registrating agents, hereto appended, may act in his stead, and in all respects discharge the duties imposed in such cases upon sheriffs.

In like manner it is declared the duty of the military officers commanding Tennessee regiments, battalions, or detached squads, and surgeons in charge of the hospitals of Tennessee soldiers, to open and hold elections on the day aforesaid, under the same rules and regulations hereinbefore prescribed, and at such suitable places as will be convenient to the soldiers, who are hereby declared entitled to vote without oath or registration.

In testimony whereof, I, Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereunto set my hand, and have caused the Great

Page  68Seal of the State to be affixed at this Department, on the 30th day of September, A.D. 1864.

By the Governor: ANDREW JOHNSON. [L. S.]

Attest: EDWARD H. EAST, Secretary of State.

EAST TENNESSEE COUNTIES.

Anderson---John Leinart, Henry Hollaway, John Baker.

Bledsoe---William Foster, Frank Bridgeman.

Blount---Horace Foster, Stephen Mathis, James Henry, Jr.

Bradley---K. Clingam, W. R. Davis, John McPherson, A. J. McCaullie.

Campbell---John Preston, Reuben Rogers, Pryor Perkins.

Carter---Pleasant Williams, (of Stony Creek,) Elijah Simerly, Jones Smith.

Claiborne---Cannady Rodgers, Wm. D. Eppes, Ferney Jones.

Cocke---Jacob Reagan, Andrew Huff, Lt. Worthington, Sheriff Smith.

Cumberland---James Hamby, Thomas B. Swan, James H. Hamby.

Fentress---Henry Williams, Dr. J. D. Hale, David Baty, Rufus Dowdy.

Granger---John F. Nov, Anderson Acuff, M. Goldman.

Greene---R. C. Carter, Calvin Smith, Anderson W. Walker, James H. Reeves.

Hancock---Wm. Gilbert, Elbert Campbell, Isaac Campbell, Capt. Lewis Jarvis.

Hamilton---Col. C. C. McCaleb, Abe Pearson, Wash Evans.

Hawkins---Wm. D. Kanner, R. G. Wetherland, W. W. Willis.

Jefferson---J. Duffell Rankin, Press Swan, Wm. Harris, Duff G. Thornburgh.

Johnson---Col. R. R. Butler, Col. Sam Howard, Col. James Grayson.

Knox---Capt. Thos. Stephens, Andrew L. Knott, Wm. Hofner, Samuel McCammon.

Marion---Alexander Kelley, Robert Ralston, Pleasant Pryor, Wm. Pryor, Esq.

McMinn---James M. Henderson, John Mc---, G. W. Ross, F. B. McElwee.

Meigs---Wm. Adams, F. J. Mathis, Col. A. Cox, Robert Allen, James Gettys.

Monroe---Joseph Divine, Henry Duggan, Daniel Heiskell.

Morgan---James Langley, Sr., James Langley, Jr., S. C. Hunnycutt.

Overton---Rob't Smith, Anderson Winham, Geo. W. Bowman, Ellison Gussett.

Polk---Gen. James Gamble, Col. John Elliot, Charles McClary.

Rhea---Capt. J. B. Walker, Wm. H. Lowe, Samuel Lowe.

Roane---Joe D. Turner, Wm. Lowery, Wm. M. Alexander, J. Christopher Ables, Allen Robb, Sam. L. Childress.

Scott---Balie Putnam, Craven Duncan, James Lay.

Seviere---Col. Wm. Pickens, Reuben Hines, David McCroskey, Lemuel Dungan.

Sullivan---E. A. Millard, Wm. Mullenax, Esq., Enoch Shipley.

Union---James W. Turner, John Bayless, Calvin Monroe.

Washington---Calvin Hoes, John Mahoney, B. F. Swingle.

Sequatchie---Washington Hurd, Daniel McWilliams, B. F. Smith.

Page  69MIDDLE TENNESSEE COUNTIES,

Bedford---Joseph Thompson, Richard Phillips, Wm. T. Tune, Rob't T. Cannon.

Cannon---Hiram Morris, William Barten.

Cheatham---Warren Jordan.

Coffee---John F. Thomas.

Davidson---John Carper, Charles Sayers, Gen. J. Stubblefield, James Warren, T. J. Yarbrough, L. D. Wheeler, P. T. Phillips, J. B. Canfield, James Davis, W. W. Garrett.

DeKalb---William Hathaway, Wm. Blackburn, Andrew J. Garrison.

Dickson---Marsh Binkley.

Franklin---

Giles---J. C. Walker, Edward W. Rose, J. W. Alley, R. J. Gorden.

Grundy---William McCran, John Myers.

Hickman---

Humphreys---Wm. McKimmons, Wilkins Waggoner, David R. Owen, J. S. Spane, T. J. Winfrey, Mr. Thomas.

Jackson---James McKinney, John Gillem, Allen Davis.

Lawrence---

Lewis---

Lincoln---J. H. Fulgham, James T. Kirkpatrick.

Macon---Pleasant Chitwood, L. S. Clements, Geo. W. Clements.

Marshall---A. A. Steele

Maury---W. W. Jones, John D. Moore, John H. Campbell.

Montgomery---O. M. Blackman, Caleb Jones, D. S. Nye, Isaiah Barbee, Thomas F. Betters, Geo. Hampton.

Berry---W. O. Britt, F. M. Brasher, Jackson Taylor, J. S. Webb, A. H. Eathers.

Putnam---Joseph Rhea McColet.

Robertson---B. F. Aurt, Wiley Woodward, Jos. Starks.

Rutherford---Edward Jordan, Wm. Spence, Wm. C. Burt, James H. Carlton.

Smith---John W. Bowen, Asberry Griffin, Francis M. McKee.

Summer---

Stewart---

Van Buren---

Warren---Samuel Henderson, Dr. J. B. Armstrong, Sam L. Colville, Miles Bonner.

White---Edward D. Pennington, Alex. Payne, James Coety

Williamson---A. W. Moss, Wm. P. Campbell, Franklin Hardeman, Wm. S. Campbell.

Wilson---Wm. Waters, Wm. J. Waters.

Wayne---Theodore H. Gibbs, Jas. Dougherty, F. Hall, Jasper Lypert, John Stamps.

WEST TENNESSEE COUNTIES

Benton---David Brewer, Allen Bearsons, David Little, Abraham Gussett, Sam. Tippett.

Carroll---Young W. Allen, John Wood, John Norman, Lucian Hawkins, Isaac Bouch.

Dyer---William Wesson.

Page  70Decatur---John Stegall, Simon Bonman, G. Menzies, James Roberts, W. H. Johnson.

Fayette---

Gibson---

Haywood---

Henderson---Robert Kizer, James Hart, James Smith.

Hardeman---

Henry---Anderson---, Dr. J. W. Mathewson, Charles White, Temple Cowan.

Hardin---Thomas Maxwell, Michell Hood, Bailey Hinkell.

Lauderdale---

Madison---T. Skurlock.

McNairy---Wm. Scayne, John Barnes,---Gregg.

Obion---Dr. S. R. Chapin.

Shelby---J. B. Bingham, G. B. Ware, A. Gregg.

Tipton---

Weakley ---J. W. Hays, Wm. Bell

EXTRACTS FROM CODE OF TENNESSEE.---

CHAPTER 4.

Of the Electors of President and Vice President

913. Each congressional district shall be an electoral district, and one Elector shall reside in each of said districts.

914. There shall be two Electors for the State who may reside in any part of the State.

915. Any citizen qualified by law to vote for members of the General Assembly, may vote for the whole number of Electors.

916. Said qualified voters shall meet at the places appointed by law for holding elections in every county, on the first Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November, in the years in which the President and Vice President are to be elected, and vote for a number of Electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State is entitled in Congress.

917. The officer or person holding the election shall advertise at the court house in every county, and in every civil district of the county, the day on which said election shall take place, at least sixty days before the time of holding it.

918. The county court of every county shall appoint judges for every place of voting in the county, all of whom shall be sworn to conduct said election in the manner prescribed for electing members of the General Assembly.

919. If the county court neglect to appoint judges of the said elections, or those appointed refuse to act, the officer holding the election shall appoint judges out of the by-standers to hold the same.

920. [Of clerks and their qualifications.] [2]

921. The election shall be conducted in the manner prescribed for electing members of the General Assembly.

[The other sections of this chapter prescribe rules concerning thePage  71 comparison of polls, statements of same, returns, comparisons of returns, proceedings of Electors, vacancy, time of meeting to vote, certificate of voting, messenger, certificate by mail, lists of electors, and penalties on officers.] [3]

Qualification of Voters for Members of the General Assembly Referred to in Sec. 915 Above.

``Every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the county where he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the General Assembly.''---Code, Sec. 833, and Const. of Tenn., Art. 4, Sec. 1.

Plans of Holding Elections, Referred to in Sec. 916, Above.

``The places of holding elections shall be in each civil district, at some convenient locality, to be designated by the county court at least six months before the election, and entered on record.''---Code 837.

EXTRACTS FROM CODE.---ART. VI.

Officers of Popular Elections, Referred to in Sec. 917 Above.

839. The sheriff, or, if he is a candidate, the coroner, or if there be no coroner, some person appointed by the county court, shall hold all popular elections; and said officer or person shall appoint a sufficient number of deputies to hold said elections.

841. The county court, at the session next preceding the day of election, shall appoint three inspectors or judges for each voting place, to superintend the election.

842. If the county court fail to make the appointment, or any person appointed refuse to serve, the sheriff, with the advice of three justices, or, if none be present, three respectable freeholders, shall, before the beginning of the election, appoint said inspectors or judges.

843. If the sheriff, or other officer whose duty it is to attend at a particular place of voting under the foregoing provisions, fail to attend, any justice of the peace present, or, if no justice of the peace be present, any three freeholders may perform the duties prescribed by the preceding sections, or in case of necessity may act as officers or inspectors.

At the time these papers were presented as before stated, I had never seen either of them, nor heard of the subject to which they relate, except in a general way, only one day previously. Up to the present moment nothing whatever upon the subject has passed between Governor Johnson or anyone else connected with the proclamation and myself. Since receiving the papers as stated, I have given the subject such brief consideration as I have been able to do in the midst of so many pressing public duties. My conclusion is that I can have nothing to do with the matter, either to sustain the plan as the Convention and Governor Johnson have initiated it, or to revoke or modify it as you demand. By the Constitution andPage  72 laws the President is charged with no duty in the conduct of a presidential election in any State; nor do I, in this case, perceive any military reason for his interference in the matter. The movement set on foot by the Convention and Governor Johnson does not, as seems to be assumed by you, emanate from the National Executive. In no proper sense can it be considered other than as an independent movement of at least a portion of the loyal people of Tennessee. I do not perceive in the plan any menace of violence or coercion towards any one. Governor Johnson, like any other loyal citizen of Tennessee, has the right to favor any political plan he chooses, and, as Military Governor, it is his duty to keep the peace among and for the loyal people of the State. I cannot discern that by this plan he purposes any more. But you object to the plan. Leaving it alone will be your perfect security against it. It is not proposed to force you into it. Do as you please on your own account peacefully and loyally, and Governor Johnson will not molest you; but will protect you against violence so far as in his power.

I presume that the conducting of a Presidential election in Tennessee in strict accordance with the old code of the State is not now a possibility. It is scarcely necessary to add that if any election shall be held, and any votes shall be cast in the State of Tennessee for President and Vice President of the United States, it will belong, not to the military agents, nor yet to the Executive Department, but exclusively to another department of the Government, to determine whether they are entitled to be counted, in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States. Except it be to give protection against violence, I decline to interfere in any way with any presidential election. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Annotation

[1]   Washington National Republican, October 22, 1864. John Lellyett's account of the presentation of the protest is given in a letter to the editor of the New York World, October 15, 1864, which appeared in the World on October 18:

``I called upon the President to-day and presented and read to him the subjoined protest. Having concluded, Mr. Lincoln responded:

`` `May I inquire how long it took you and the New-York politicians to concoct that paper?'

``I replied, `It was concocted in Nashville, without communication with any but Tennesseans. We communicated with citizens of Tennessee, outside of Nashville, but not with New-York politicians.'

`` `I will answer', said Mr. Lincoln emphatically, `that I expect to let the friends of George B. McClellan manage their side of this contest in their own way; and I will manage my side of it in MY way.'

`` `May we ask an answer in writing,' I suggested.

`` `Not now. Lay those papers down here. I will give no other answer now. I may or may not write something about this hereafter. I understand this. I know you intend to make a point of this. But go ahead, you have my answer.'

`` `Your answer then is that you expect to let General McClellan's friends manage their side of this contest in their own way, and you will manage your side of it in your way?'

`` `Yes.'

``I then thanked the President for his courtesy in giving us a hearing at all, and took my leave.

``Judge [Charles] Mason, of this city, was present at the interview, to whom I refer in regard to the correctness of this report. On stepping outside of the door of the executive mansion I immediately wrote down the President's emphatic response, and submitted it to Judge Mason and another gentleman who happened to be present, and they both pronounced it accurate.

``And now I have a word to say to the people of the United States, who are, or ought to be, the masters of Abraham Lincoln. The paper which I had the honor to present to the President is not the `concoction of New-York politicians,' however that might affect its merits. It is the solemn voice of a once free and proud people, protesting against their own disfranchisement by the agent of Abraham Lincoln. It is the voice of those loyal men in Tennessee who have borne the reproach of a people they still loved, supporting the President in all lawful efforts to preserve the Union. The reward of our loyalty is disfranchisement. The cup of perjury is commended to our lips, because it is known that we will not touch its contents. Judge ye between the people of Tennessee and Abraham Lincoln. It may be meet that our solemn and respectful appeal should be thrown aside with a contemptuous sneer. Look to it. If you, the people of the Northern states, shall sustain this act of tyranny, your own time will soon come. If the President of the United States may `manage his side of this contest' by setting aside the very letter of the Constitution, and altering the election laws of the state so as to disfranchise his opponents, liberty is already dead.''

The reply to Lincoln's communication, signed by Campbell, Peyton, and Lellyett, appeared in the World on election day, November 8:

``To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.

SIR: Your letter in reply to the Tennessee protest has reached us, and has, no doubt, been read by the people. The argument on this subject is nearly exhausted, but we have some additional and most important facts to submit to the people, in further elucidation of the subject. Our wonder is not excited to learn that you had not seen the proclamation of Governor Johnson, and scarcely heard of it until presented by us. It is an evil of no small magnitude, connected with your administration, that military subordinates assume despotic powers without asking the sanction of their superiors---even presuming to give law to the people by proclamation and to repeal and modify our laws at will. The idea that the President himself can make, or repeal, or modify a law of the land, state or national, constitutional or statutory, though freely practiced upon by yourself, is a doctrine of despotism in `irrepressible conflict' with the principles of public liberty. And when these things are done by subordinates, the evil becomes intolerably oppressive, and calls for the firmest and most active lawful resistance which a people deserving to be free can offer.

``You tell us that `the movement set on foot by the convention and Governor Johnson does not, as seems to be assumed by you, emanate from the national executive.' What we did assume is, that the plan was promulgated by proclamation of the military governor, who has no authority but that derived directly from you, and it was given the force of law by his edict. It thus became indirectly your act; and now that you decline to order the edict to be recalled or modified, it becomes your own as fully as if it had emanated from you. `In no proper sense,' you say, `can it be considered other than an independent movement of at least a portion of the loyal people of Tennessee.' Independent of what? Manifestly independent of all lawful authority---independent of and at war with the federal Constitution, which you have both sworn to support, protect, and defend.

What right has a citizen or officer to favor an `independent movement' at variance with the Constitution, and support the same by force of arms? What less is this than waging war against the Constitution of the United States, and the government established thereby? `An independent movement' against the Constitution, supported by a military governor by force of arms, recommended by an assembly calling itself a convention. Such in principle were the `independent movements' of governors and `portions of the people' which set at first in motion the great rebellion in the South with which we are contending. The `convention' calls upon a military governor to order an `independent movement' to help your re-election, and to support it by force of arms, placing `guards' around the ballot-box. And their recommendation is adopted by the military governor and `made' by him `part of his proclamation.' And yet you say, `I do not perceive in the plan any menace of coercion or violence toward any one.' Just so with the earlier `independent movement' of Governor [Isham G.] Harris in this state, which we opposed as we oppose this. There was no menace of coercion or violence toward any who should consent to see the Constitution violated and the `political plan' carried out without opposition. But the bayonet was kept in view, as it is in this case. Public meetings were menaced, and perhaps broken up by armed force. And so it is now. Those opposed to the `independent movement' were denounced as traitors, and so they are now. Troops from our own and from other states were used to overawe the people, and so they are now. We had vigilance committees and mob violence then. We have now secret leagues, and are liable at any time to arbitrary arrest, as well as to mob violence, which is now used in our midst.

``These are general facts, in support of which we add the following specifications: We have held a number of peaceable and loyal public meetings in this city, more than one of which has been `menaced' by your partisans. On the 21st instant such a meeting was held at the court-house in this city. It was held `peacefully' and conducted `loyally,' the assembly consisting chiefly of the `friends of George B. McClellan.' A number of provost guards were present, by request of those who conducted the meeting, to preserve order. The meeting had been addressed by a gentleman who is an exile from his home because of his loyalty, and who has spent much time in the military service of the government during the war. One of the undersigned, a McClellan elector (Hon. Balie Peyton), had taken the stand to address the meeting, when the hall was suddenly entered by a large party of soldiers, and the meeting violently broken up. These men rushed in with guns and drawn pistols, crying, `disperse you d---d rebels and traitors,' extinguishing the lights and driving the people from the hall.

``We specify further that on the 25th instant the rioters, thirty in number, published a card in the Nashville Times, the organ in this city of Governor Johnson, to which they append their names, as `all members of Company D, First Tennessee light artillery.' This company was raised and its officers appointed (as we understand) under the superintendence of Governor Johnson. The rioters speak thus in their card: `Neither Governor Johnson, nor any other individual outside of the men who were active participants, knew anything of our intention till the affair was over. Some colored men may have followed us, but we knew nothing of them.' `We do not fear a court-martial;' they defiantly add, `and therefore cheerfully give our names as loyal and Union-loving soldiers.'

``We specify further that on the evening of the 24th instant, only three days after the McClellan meeting was broken up, our streets were paraded by an immense procession of negroes, bearing torches and transparencies, with such inscriptions on the latter as `Lincoln and Johnson,' `Liberty or Death.' Some disorders occurred in connection with this demonstration, and shots were freely fired by the negroes---some at a window where white persons were standing, and some at persons on the streets. One of the latter (an employe of the government) was dangerously, if not mortally, wounded, and it was thought others were hit.

In the course of these orgies the procession waited on Governor Andrew Johnson, at the Capitol, and he delivered to the negro assembly an address. A report of his speech was published and republished in his organ, the Times, and from that report we take the following extract. Governor Johnson says:

`` `I speak to night as a citizen of Tennessee. I am here on my own soil, and mean to remain here, and fight this great battle of freedom through to the end. Loyal men, from this day forward, are to be the controllers of Tennessee's grand and sublime destiny, and rebels must be dumb. We will not listen to their counsels. Nashville is no longer the place for them to hold their meetings. Let them gather their treasonable conclaves elsewhere---among their friends in the confederacy. They shall not hold their conspiracies in Nashville.'

``The language of the rioters, `Disperse rebels and traitors,' and the common application of such terms of abuse and terror to the friends of General McClellan here, do not admit of our ignoring the meaning of Governor Johnson in the language quoted. The allusion is evidently to the riotous dispersion of our meeting three evenings previous. He also seems to adopt your idea that, as a citizen of Tennessee, he `has the right to favor any political plan he chooses.' And he unmistakably evinces his determination to `manage' his `side of this contest in his own way.'

`` `Governor Johnson,' you say, `like any other loyal citizen, has a right to favor any political plan he chooses.' We do not so read the duty of the citizen. Some of the political plans of our day are devised to overturn the Constitution and government of the United States---and this is one of them. The southern rebellion is another. Neither the citizens nor Governor Johnson has a right to favor such plans, unless it be upon the principle advanced by you as a member of Congress, that `any people, any where, being inclined, and having the power, have the right' to revolutionize, their government; that `this is a most valuable, a most sacred right.' We shall despair of the republic if these principles of anarchy, as embodied in you, shall be adopted by the people in your re-election.

``In the face of the reign of terror which has been established in Tennessee under the eyes of Governor Johnson, you say to us: `Do as you please, on your own account, peacefully and loyally, and Governor Johnson will not molest you, but will protect you against violence so far as is in his power.' If you mean that Governor Johnson will allow us to stay away from the polls without molestation, we trust there is some truth in your assurance. But if you mean to suggest that we hold separate elections `on our own account,' and to assure us that we shall not be molested but protected in such a `movement,' we know by experience, and by the facts above set forth, that your assurance is a cruel mockery. We will not advise our citizens to put in jeopardy their lives in going through the farce you propose, of holding an election under the laws at one ballot-box, while Governor Johnson holds an election under his `plan' at another. Too many unoffending citizens have already been murdered in our streets by negro soldiers---too many reputable women have been insulted by them. We do not wish to provoke further outrage. There will be no election for President in Tennessee in 1864. You and Governor Johnson may `manage your side of it in your own way,' but it will be no election.

``After consultation with our friends, therefore, in different parts of the state, and having communicated with nearly all of our colleagues, we respectfully announce to the people of Tennessee that in view of what is set forth above---in view of the fact that our people are overawed by military power, the laws set aside and violated with impunity---and in view of the fact that we have appealed in vain to the President whose duty it is to `see that the laws be faithfully executed,' and that those who act by his authority shall hold sacred the liberties of the people; in view of these things we announce that the McClellan electoral ticket in Tennessee is withdrawn. ``W. B. CAMPBELL, of Wilson county,

``Nashville, October 29.'' ``BAILIE PEYTON, of Sumner county,

``JOHN LELLYETT, of Davidson county.''

[2]   Brackets are in the source.

[3]   Brackets are in the source.