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

To Military Officers Commanding in West Tennessee [1]

To the Military Officers Washington,
Commanding in West-Tennessee. Feb. 13. 1865

While I can not order as within requested, allow me to say that it is my wish for you to relieve the people from all burthens, harrassments, and oppressions, so far as is possible, consistently with your Military necessities; that the object of the war being to restore and maintain the blessings of peace and good government, I desire you to help, and not hinder, every advance in that direction.

Page  295Of your Military necessities you must judge and execute; but please do so in the spirit and with the purpose above indicated.

A. LINCOLN.

Annotation

[1]   AES, DLC-RTL. Lincoln's endorsement appears on the back of the following printed document:

``MR. PRESIDENT: In accordance with your direction, we now state in writing the relief which the people of the District of West Tennessee ask at your hands, viz:

``1st. To be relieved from all interference of the military authorities with the administration of justice by the civil courts.

``And to this end, 1st, that the judges of the courts and all officers thereof be left entirely free, in the discharge of their several functions of office, from the control or interference of the military authorities; and that they be declared exempt from all military duty, whether of the regular or militia service; and, 2d, that all jurors, witnesses, and parties and their counsel, attending said courts, lawfully summoned thereto, or prosecuting or defending their rights therein, shall be exempt from such military duty while so in attendance.

``2d. That said military authorities be prohibited from imposing upon the people assessments, taxes, duties, or charges, of any kind whatever, and collecting the same, unless authorized so to do specifically by the President or Secretary of War.

``3d. That all officers and soldiers who have served in the armies of the United States and have been honorably discharged from said service, on account of physical disability, and also all such officers and soldiers as shall have served out the term of their enlistment, the same being for three years, shall be held exempt from all military duty, whether militia or otherwise.

``4th. That all persons who have come within the lines of the United States army and taken the oath of amnesty, in good faith, under, and trusting to the assurances of, General Grant's general order No. 10, shall be exempt from such military duty, and so long as they continue to be quiet citizens and obedient to the laws shall be permitted to remain.

``5th. That the people be relieved from the imposition of any other draft than such as is in accordance with law; they do not ask to be exempt from draft, but insist that it be levied upon them in accordance with the laws of the United States and administered by the same rules and regulations as elsewhere in the United States.

``6th. That the President give assurances that so soon as Tennessee shall have ratified the amendments to her Constitution made by the Convention of Nashville, and now being submitted to the people, he will, by proclamation, so far as he lawfully may, declare the State of Tennessee no longer in insurrection against the authority of the United States.

``7th. That all persons who have furnished acceptable Substitutes be exempt from all military Service. [This seventh request is inserted, not in Lincoln's autograph, on the right-hand margin of the document.]

``Mr. President, the granting of the relief above asked for, it is believed, will so powerfully impress public sentiment as to enable us, by a splendid vote and overwhelming majority, to carry the above-mentioned amendments of the State Constitution---to regenerate the State, and to restore her to her place in the Union. Respectfully, your obedient servants, ``WM. WALLACE,

``HOHN CALDWELL,

``P. E. BLAND.''

Accompanying the document is a letter from Bland and Wallace, Executive Mansion, Washington, Feb. 11, 1865:

``Having learned this morning that Brig. Genl. [Benjamin H.] Grierson will probably call on you during the day; and knowing him to be more thoroughlyPage  296 acquainted with the condition and wants of our people than perhaps any other man in the public service, as also the character and probable worth or worthlessness of the Memphis Millitia as at present organized and the oppressive exactions imposed in its name upon the people---and also how odious to the people is the proposed draft made as they believe without the sanction of law---We beseech you, if any doubts remain in your mind, to question him concerning the matters of relief asked for by us in the printed paper which we had the honor to submit to you several days since. . . .''

If Lincoln's endorsement was sent as a letter or order, the original has not been found. It may have been handed to Grierson during the interview.