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

To William S. Rosecrans [1]

Executive Mansion,
Major General Rosecrans, Washington, Sep. 26, 1864

One can not always safely disregard a report, even which one may not believe. I have a report that you incline to deny the soldiers the right of attending the election in Missouri, on the assumed ground that they will get drunk and make disturbance. Last year I sent Gen. Schofield a letter of instruction, dated October 1st, 1863, which I suppose you will find on the files of the Department, and which contains, among other things, the following:

``At elections see that those and only those, are allowed to vote, who are entitled to do so by the laws of Missouri, including as of those laws, the restrictions laid by the Missouri Convention upon those who may have participated in the rebellion.''

This I thought right then, and think right now; and I may add I do not remember that either party complained after the election, of Gen. Schofield's action under it. Wherever the law allows soldiers to vote, their officers must also allow it. Please write me on this subject. Yours truly, A. LINCOLN.


[1]   Copy, DLC-RTL; copy, DNA WR RG 94, Adjutant General, Letters Received, P 1575. On October 3, 1864, Rosecrans wrote:

``In reply to your favor of the 26th ult. notwithstanding the reports you have received to the contrary, I have the honor to inform you that I have not nor ever had the slightest idea of preventing soldiers in my Department from attending the elections whenever and wherever they may have a legal right to vote, without neglecting paramount military duties. On the contrary I shall take such measures as . . . will most effectually secure to them and to every legal voter the right of voting according to the laws of the state. . . .

Page  25``I have have [sic] before me the orders and instructions to which you refer They seem good in principle and I shall prepare and publish one that will give satisfaction to all honest union men.'' (DLC-RTL).