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

To Napoleon J. T. Dana [1]

Executive Mansion Washington
Major General Dana Jany 6 1865

The attached document perporting to be an order issued by your authority, is sent you with the request that you will inform me whether such order has been issued by you, and if it has, please inform me by what authority it is that you undertake to impose terms in the premises not imposed by the government and which in effect, entirely thwart and defeat the object of the government

It is suggested that if executing in good faith the order of the government in the matter in question, or any other matter, operates injuriously to the Military Service, it would be proper for you to report to the government fully upon it, and that would be the only proper course Yours &c A. LINCOLN

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Annotation

[1]   LS (copy?), DLC-RTL. Filed with this letter is a newspaper clipping of General Dana's order to Lieutenant Colonel J. P. Harper, permit officer at Memphis, Tennessee, December 26, 1864:

``The very great latitude allowed to persons in procuring `applications' from the Purchasing Agent of the Treasury Department, and the facility with which they are issued, appears to render it imperative, on the part of the military authorities, that all applicants be required to set aside doubts as to their actually and `bona fide' owning or controlling the products named in their application; and that they are not mere speculators and adventurers, who have procured papers merely to furnish them the opportunity of going around to hunt up products for purchase; nor persons who have gotten them merely for the object of passing through the lines.

``Of the class of applicants who own products there may be two descriptions, viz: those who have raised them, and those who have purchased them.

``Of the first division of this class, prior to issuing a safe conduct or permit, you will require an affidavit of themselves, and one other loyal, disinterested respectable person, showing when and where the products were raised, the quantity, where they are at the time of making the affidavit, and in whose possession, in case they have been moved from the place where they were raised, the time of removal, etc.

``Of the second division of this class, you will require affidavit as above, of who was the last preceding owner---the time and place of purchase, the price paid, or to be paid, and the description of money or property in which payment was made, or is to be made, the place where the products were when purchased, the quantity, and the place where they are at the time of making the affidavit, and in whose possession.

``Of the persons controlling products you will require a similar affidavit, showing precisely where the products were raised or were stored at the time they obtained control of them; the quantity and to whom belonging; the means and circumstances by which they obtained control; the place where they are at the time of making affidavit and in whose possession.

``In all instances where persons are unable to make the above proofs, or when you are satisfied of any fraudulent intent, you are forbidden to issue safe guard or permit, and you will note that fact on the application.

``You will keep exact record of all rejected applications.''

On January 17, General Dana replied to Lincoln's letter:

``I have the honor to reply to the letter of your Excellency dated the 6th instant, and, whilst I express my unfeigned regret . . .that any misconception of mine, arising from a misunderstanding of the policy of the government, under the requirements of orders from my immediate superior, should subject me to your Excellency's disapprobation, I have no hesitancy in believing that I shall henceforth, in the matter, have no fear of censure, as I believe I now fully understand your wishes. . . .

``It was hardly to be expected that, in the inauguration of a system so new to us and so entirely contrary to our previous instructions, that Commanders would not find many difficulties to encounter; but I expected to obviate these in a very short time. When my first safeguards were issued . . .certain persons who held them were arrested by Naval Commanders who desired to know by what proofs I was satisfied they `owned or controlled' the products and stated that they knew the contrary. Thereupon I issued the letter of instructions and supposed, so far from thwarting and defeating the objects of the government, that I was carrying them out in good faith. . . .On the 5th of January Genl. Canby . . .disapproved my action . . .and I immediately discontinued the requirement. . . .

``I am persuaded that however much many persons, who had not fully informed themselves at the inauguration of a new set of regulations, were disposed to complain and make trouble, they are now convinced that they werePage  203 more impatient than injured, and that the people of this Department [of the Mississippi] are, at present, well satisfied that the Executive Order and Treasury Regulations of Sept 24 are being carried out with the least possible obstruction. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).