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

To John McClelland [1]

John McClelland Executive Mansion
Nashville, Tenn. Washington, Dec. 24. 1864

A letter of yours is laid before me, in which you seek to have John S. Young, James Mallory & R. T. Bridges released, adding ``My word for it they are innocent.'' It is fair to presume that you would not say this without knowing what you say to be true. But a telegraphic despatch of Gov. Johnson, now before me, says of this very man Mallory ``has been guilty of the most outrageous and atrocious murders known to civilization'' and that ``the punishment of death is not half atonement for the crimes he has committed on the defenceless & unoffending Union-men of the country'' As I know Gov. Johnson would not purposely misle[a]d me, I think it be well for you to communicate the particulars of your information to him. A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 268. This telegram as printed by Nicolay and Hay is incorrectly addressed to ``John McClernand.'' John McClelland was assessor of internal revenue at Nashville (U.S. Official Register, 1865. His letter referred to by Lincoln has not been found. Andrew Johnson's telegram of December 3, 1864, reads in part as follows: ``James R Mallory who was convicted of violation of the Laws & usages of civilized warfare of murder & two robberies sentenced to be hung on the second instant has been respited by Genl Thomas for a short time so that his friends can have an opportunity as they say to present circumstances which will mitigate his sentence. Two young ladies, one assuming to be his sister & the other his cousin asked & obtained a simple letter of introduction to the President & will be presented byPage  181

them in a few days. This man Mallory . . . has been a terror to the whole surrounding country and has been guilty of the most outrageous and atrocious murders known to civilization. . . . I told the two young ladies who will apply for the pardon that I could not even recommend a commutation of his punishment to imprisonment for life . . . & that the punishment of death was not half atonement for the crimes he had committed on the defenceless & unoffending Union men of the country. Duty & conscience required me to say as much to the President in this case.'' (DLC-RTL).

James R. Mallory, citizen of Tennessee, was sentenced to death by hanging, on charges of murder and violation of the laws and customs of war. On April 21, 1864, Lincoln approved the sentence, and on August 9, 1864, endorsed a second application for clemency, ``Second application denied. August 9. 1864 A. LINCOLN'' (DNA WR RG 153, Judge Advocate General, MM 1375). See further Lincoln to Miller, December 28, infra.