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

To Benjamin F. Butler [1]

Executive Mansion, Washington,
Major General Butler Dec. 21, 1864.

On the 9th. of August last I began to write you a letter, the inclosed being a copy of so much as I then wrote. So far as it goes, it embraces the views I then entertained, and still entertain. A little relaxation of complaints made to me on the subject, occurring about that time, the letter was not finished and sent. I now learn, correctly I suppose, that you have ordered an election, similar to the one mentioned, to take place on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Let this be suspended, at least until conferrence with me, and obtaining my approval. Yours truly A. LINCOLN.


[1]   ADfS, DLC-RTL; LS, RPB. The letter sent is in Hay's handwriting signed by Lincoln. The enclosed copy of Lincoln's communication of August 9 (supra), is also in Hay's handwriting.

Butler telegraphed his reply on December 27:

``I have just received your note relating to the Election on the Eastern Shore. The President is incorrectly informed. I have not, nor has any officer under my command ordered an election on that Shore.

``The inhabitants asked of me, leave to hold a meeting to take into consideration their relations to the state Government of Virginia. I replied that I would not order such a meeting, but that if the people chose to assemble . . . to petition for a redress of supposed grievances, or to consider any question of civil order I could see no military objection. . . .

``I have heard nothing on the subject since, and do not know even when the meeting is to be

``Shall I issue an order to prevent their assembling to vote on civil affairs?'' (DLC-RTL. As published in Private and Official Correspondence of General Benjamin F. Butler, V, 443, this telegram is misdated December 29.)

See further Lincoln's telegram to Butler on December 28, infra.