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

To Edwin M. Stanton [2]

November 5, 1864

I think this might lie over till morning. The tendency of the order, it seems to me, is to bring on a collision with the State authority, which I would rather avoid, at least until the necessity for it is more apparant than it yet is. A. LINCOLN

Nov. 5. 1864

Annotation

[1]   AES, DLC-Stanton Papers. Lincoln's endorsement is written on a telegram to Stanton received on November 5 from General Benjamin F. Butler, who had been sent to New York with troops to maintain order until after the election:Page  92

``I desire to issue the following portion of an order about Brig Genl John A. Green as commander of the District of New York.

``Gen Dix objects not on account of any difference as to jurisdiction between us but because he thinks we have no power to touch Green & desires me to ask you.

``Will you sanction it?

`` `There can be no military organization in any state known to the laws save the militia & armies of the United States. The president is the constitutional Comdr in chief of the militia & army of the U.S. therefore where in any portion of the U.S. an officer of superior rank is detailed to command all other military officers in that district must report to & be subordinate to him therefore all persons exercising any military authority in this District will at once report to these HdQuarters for orders A military order purporting to be issued by Br Genl John A Green is countermanded & revoked & Brig Genl Green if exercising any military command will forthwith report to these Hd Qurs & any attempt to exercise military authority without so reporting will be summarily punished as wilful disobedience of orders.'

``I will wait for answer at the telegraph officer Troops are beginning to arrive.'' (Telegram, DLC-Stanton Papers; OR, I, XLIII, II, 549-50).

Stanton replied on the same day: ``Your telegram has been submitted to the consideration of the President, and all action upon the subject-matter will be suspended until his instructions are received.'' (OR, I, XLIII, II, 550).

On November 7 Stanton telegraphed Butler: ``The President thinks it expedient to avoid precipitating any military collision between the United States forces and the militia of the State of New York; and as General Dix, the commanding officer of the department, does not approve of the order proposed by you to be issued, in reference to the militia of the State and Brigadier-General Green, the President is of the opinion that it had better not be issued. If Green, under any color of pretense, should undertake to resist the military authority of the United States, he may then be dealt with as circumstances require, without any general order that may become the subject of abstract discussion.'' (Ibid., p. 568).

This exchange of telegrams grew out of an order issued on October 29 by Brigadier General John A. Green, Jr., commanding the New York State Militia, which reads in part as follows: ``The General-Commanding recognizes danger to the public peace in the proposed attempt of a Major-General holding a commission under the Federal Government to take under his care and supervision within the . . . district, the election to be held as aforesaid. For this contemplated interference there is no necessity, authority or excuse. The Federal Government is charged with no duty or responsibility whatever relating to an election to be held in the State of New-York. . . .'' (New York Times, November 1, 1864).