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

To Godfrey Weitzel [1]

``Cypher'' Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Weitzel War Department,
Richmond, Va. Washington, D.C., April 12. 1865

I have seen your despatch to Col. Hardie about the matter of prayers. I do not remember hearing prayers spoken of while I was in Richmond; but I have no doubt you have acted in what appeared to you to be the spirit and temper manifested by me while there.

Is there any sign of the rebel Legislature coming together on the understanding of my letter to you? If there is any such sign, inform me what it is; if there is no such sign you may as [well] withdraw the offer. A. LINCOLN


[1]   ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 385. The time of this telegram is marked by the clerk as 9 A.M. On April 9, Charles A. Dana had telegraphed Stanton from Richmond: ``On Friday evening I asked Weitzel . . . what he was going to do about opening the churches on Sunday. He answered that all were to be allowed to be opened on condition that no disloyalty should be uttered and that the Episcopal ministers would be required to read the prayerPage  406

for the President. . . . I told him this was all right. Last evening he sent [George F.] Shepley to me to ask that this order might be relaxed, so that the clergy would only be required not to pray for Jeff. Davis. Shepley said this was what had been determined on by . . . Weitzel before I gave orders to the contrary. I answered I had given no orders at all . . . and that Weitzel must act in the matter entirely on his own judgment. It appears that Judge Campbell thought it very desirable that a loyal prayer should not be exacted, and that Weitzel had consented to it; but when I asked him the question . . . he gave me an answer opposite to the reality. I report the fact, confessing that it shakes a good deal my confidence in Weitzel. . . .'' (OR, I, XLVI, III, 677).

Whereupon Stanton telegraphed Weitzel: ``It has just been reported to this Department that you have, at the instance of Mr. Campbell, consented that service should be performed in the Episcopal churches of Richmond to-day without the usual prayer said in loyal churches of that denomination for the President . . . and that you have even agreed to waive that condition. If such has been your action it is strongly condemned by this Department . . . you are directed immediately to report by telegraph your action in relation to religious services in Richmond . . . and also to state what took place between you and Mr. Campbell on the subject. . . .'' (Ibid., p. 678).

Weitzel replied the next day: ``The orders in relation to religious services in Richmond were verbal, and were applicable alike to all religious denominations. . . . They were, in substance, that no expression would be allowed in any part of the church service . . . which in any way implied a recognition of any other authority than that of the United States. . . . No orders were given as to what would be preached or prayed for, but only as to what would not be permitted. . . . I have had personally but three interviews with Judge Campbell---two of them in the presence of, and the other by the written command of, the President. In neither of these interviews was any question discussed in relation to church or prayers. . . .'' (Ibid., pp. 696-97).

On April 11, James A. Hardie telegraphed Weitzel: ``The Secretary of War directs me to say that your explanation . . . is not satisfactory. . . . The Secretary also directs me to instruct you that officers commanding in Richmond are expected to require from all religious denominations in that city, in regard to their rituals and prayers, no less respect for the President . . . than they practiced toward the rebel chief . . . before he was driven from the capital.'' (Ibid., p. 711).

Weitzel's reply to Lincoln's telegram of April 12 was received at 3 P.M.: ``You spoke of not pressing little points. You said you would not order me, but if you were in my place you would not press them. The passports have gone out for the legislature, and it is common talk that they will come together.'' (Ibid., p. 724).