Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Hon. J.R Underwood, Executive Mansion
Hon. Henry Grider Washington, Oct. 26, 1864

Gentlemen A petition has been presented to me on behalf of certain citizens of Allen and Barren counties in the State of Kentucky assuming that certain sums of money have been assessed and collected from them by the United States Military authorities, to compensate certain Union citizens of the same vicinage, for losses by rebel depredations, and praying that I will order the money to be refunded. The petition is accompanied by a letter of yours, which so presents the case as to induce me to make a brief response. You distinctly admit that the petitioners ``sympathize with the Confederate States & regard them as warring to preserve their Constitutional & legal rights.'' This admitted, it is scarcely possible to believe that they do not help the cause they thus love whenever they conveniently can. Their sons and relatives go into the rebel, but we may not be able to distinctly prove that they out-fitted, and sent them. When armed rebels come among them, their houses and other property are spared; while Union men's houses are burned, and their property pillaged. Still we may not be able to specifically prove that the sympathizers, protected and supplied the raiders in turn, or designated their Union nei[g]hbors for plunder and devastation. Yet we know all this exists even better than we could know an isolated fact upon the sworn testimony of one or two witnesses, just as we better know there is fire whence we see much smoke rising than could know it by one or two witnesses swearing to it. The witnesses may commit perjury, but the smokePage  78 can not. Now, experience has already taught us in this war that holding these smoky localities responsible for the conflagrations within them has a very salutary effect. It was obviously so in and about St. Louis, and on Eastern Shore of Virginia.