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

To Thomas C. Fletcher [1]

Gov. Fletcher Executive Mansion,
Jefferson City, Mo. Washington, Feb. 27, 1865.

Have you received my letter of the 20th.? I think some such thing as therein suggested, is needed. If you put it before the people, I will direct the Military to co-operate. Please answer.

A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 359. Governor Fletcher replied on the same day: ``Your letter of 20th instant has been received. I will diligently, faithfully, and honestly try the policy you suggest, letting none know my utter want of confidence in its success, and preparing for the only other policy as best I can. I will write you to-night. Please withhold any public directions to the military until you receive my letter.'' (OR, I, XLVIII, I, 997).

Fletcher's letter of the same date is as follows:

``I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th Inst. . . .

``I have to say: That the destruction of life and property in every part of Missouri which has been going on for nearly four years and which is yet going on, is not the result of the immediate action of men who can be reached by any amicable propositions. The State being infested with thousands of outlaws who are naturally and practically `robbers' and `cut-throats,' no good man desires to reach any understanding with them. . . . I have every confidence in our ability, when properly organized, to assert by force the supremacy of the law . . . andPage  320 thus give security to . . . every man who is willing to aid in enforcing the law, or to recognize its authority. . . . In almost every neighborhood . . . the loyal men have worked in parties for the last three summers, some standing guard while others ploughed, and all at night sleeping in the woods. No theatre of war has presented scenes of murder and outrage such as we have witnessed in Missouri. . . . Every man in Missouri knows his neighbor. Four years standing guard with or against him leaves no room to doubt the position of each. An agreement to leave `all others alone' would be kept by the good, and only result in advantages to the men who can neither be bound by oaths nor agreements. It would but madden the true men of this State to talk to them of reliance on the `honor' and `christian charity' of these fiends in human shape. When we have sworn them, they have violated their oaths; when we have armed them by agreement to assist in our mutual defence, they have turned their arms against us; when we sought to enrol them for militia duty, they took their guns and either joined Price or went into the bushes to become banditti. . . .

``I am satisfied, Mr. President, that if you could see and fully understand what we have done and suffered in Missouri . . . you would agree . . . that we want no peace with rebels but the peace which comes of unconditional submission to the authority of the law. . . .

``My request by telegraph to-day to withhold any public instructions to the military on the subject of your letter, was prompted by the belief that our soldiers---a majority of whom are soldiers because they cannot live at home in safety---would be exasperated beyond control at the announcement that the men who have driven them from their homes were to be let alone. . . .

``I will go to St Louis tomorrow, and confer with Generals Pope and Dodge as to the best method of fully testing the policy suggested by you, and in the earnest hope that I may be mistaken as to the result. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

On March 7, Fletcher issued a proclamation:

``Whereas there no longer exists within the State of Missouri any organized force of the enemies of the Government of the United States, recognized as entitled to the usages of war among civilized nations; and

``Whereas the supremacy of the civil law is the desire of all good citizens and its protection to those who obey, and its infliction of known and just punishments on those who violate it, are the ends for which governments are established, and the restoration of its power is the sole purpose of the armed forces of the United States and the State of Missouri.

``Now, therefore, I, Thomas C. Fletcher, governor . . . desiring to give to every citizen an opportunity of uniting with the civil authorities for the restoration of peace and order on the basis of the administration of justice, as embodied in the civil law, before the commencement of active operations by the military force now being organized to effect the common object, do invite all men who have not made themselves infamous by crime to unite together for the support of the authority of the officers and laws and to make common cause against whomsoever shall persist in making, aiding, or encouraging any description of lawlessness. . . .'' (OR, I, XLVIII, I, 1115).