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

To Joseph Roberts [1]

[c. December 10, 1864]

It is confessed in this case that Samuels when arrested, had on his person a paper prima facie showing that he was going North to obtain medical supplies for the rebels. Will the officer in command at Fort-Monroe [2] please give him an opportunity of trying to prove that this was not his real object, and report the evidence, with his opinion on it, to me? A. LINCOLN

Let the Prisoner Samuels be discharged. A. LINCOLN

Dec. 10. 1864

Annotation

[1]   AES, owned by Max Thorek, Chicago, Illinois. Lincoln's endorsements are written on a letter of General Benjamin F. Butler to C. C. Callam of Baltimore, September 15, 1864:

``I suppose yours is the fiftieth communication I have received about [Abraham] Samuels, some asking that he be tried, and some asking one thing, and some another; and this is the last communication I shall answer about Samuels from any source, except under orders from the President.

``Samuels' case is this: He left Richmond with a list of Medical supplies in his pocket under an agreement to procure those supplies for the Rebel Medical Department.

Page  163``He was detected, arrested, examined, and confined, and he will be confined during the War, so far as any act of mine can aid that desirable result.''

Lincoln's first undated endorsement was presumably written between September 15 and December 10, probably closer to the later date. On January 8, 1865, General Butler wrote Lincoln:

``Abraham Samuels was arrested in January, 1864, when endeavoring to make his way through my lines across the Potomac. Upon examination he confessed that the paragraph in the Richmond Examiner, December 28th, 1863, herewith furnished, was furnished to that paper by himself in answer to a paragraph in a former issue saying . . . that Samuels had endeavored to escape to the Yankees. He farther confessed that when he left Richmond he had the list of medical stores which is mentioned in the Examiner, which he recovered from the medical purveyor of the Confederate Army, and that he had engaged to run the blockade and bring back the stores: that he had destroyed this paper. From all the surroundings and his story I was satisfied that he was in the interest of the Confederates, and I caused him to be held as a dangerous and disloyal person, and confiscated the money he had with him . . . and placed it to the credit of the United States where it remains.

``A great number of applications were made for his release, to all of which I would not listen until after we had so constructed our lines about Richmond that I was satisfied that Samuels' vocation as blockade runner was gone, and then upon an intimation from the President I released him, not because of his innocence . . . but because he was no longer dangerous. . . .'' (Private and Official Correspondence of General Benjamin F. Butler, V, 474-75).

[2]   Lincoln first wrote ``Gen. Wallace,'' and changed to ``the officer in command at Fort-Monroe.'' Colonel Joseph Roberts, Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery was in command through December, 1864.