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45. Lincoln to Gen. Samuel R. Curtis on military situation in Missouri


45. Lincoln to Gen. Samuel R. Curtis on military situation in Missouri


Letter from Abraham Lincoln to General Samuel R. Curtis reporting that Governor Hamilton R. Gamble and Congressional members of Missouri have requested that military assessments against southern sympathizers be discontinued statewide. Lincoln asks Curtis to meet with Gamble to resolve this "and other Missouri questions", and to consider a request by Major James S. Rollins to allow three Missouri men to return from exile. January 5, 1863. Copy.




Becki Plunkett and Stephen Vincent


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State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

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Executive Mansion[,] Washington January 5th 1863 Maj. Genl. Curtis My Dear Sir, I am having a good deal of trouble with Missouri matters and I now sit down to write your particularly about it. One class of friends believe in great severity and another in greater leniency, in regards to arrests[,] banishments and assessments. As usual in such cases each questions the other['s] motives. On the one hand it is insisted that Governor [Hamilton] Gamble[']s Unionism at most is not better than a secondary spring of action, that hunkerism and a wish for political influence stand before Unionism with him. On the other hand it is urged that arrests[,] banishments and assessments are made more for private malice[,] revenge and pecuniary interest than for the public good. This morning I was told by a gentleman who I have no doubt believes what he says that in one case of assessment for ten thousand dollars the different persons who paid compared [their] receipts and found they had paid thirty thousand dollars. If this be true the inference is that the collecting agents pocketed the odd twenty thousand dollars. [A]nd true or not in the instance [there is] nothing but the sternest necessity for the making and maintaining of a system so liable to such abuses. Doubtless the necessity for the making of the system in Missouri did exist and whether it continues for the maintainace [sic] of it is now a practical and very important question. Some days ago Governor Gamble telegraphed me asking that the assessments outside of St. Louis county might be suspended as they have already been within it and this morning all the members of Congress here from Missouri, but one, lay a paper before me asking the same thing. Now my belief is that Governor Gamble is an honest and true man, not less so than your self; that you and he could confer together on this and other Missouri questions with great advantage to the public; that each knows something which the other does not and that acting together you could about double your stock of pertinent information. May I not hope that you and he will attempt this? I could at once safely do (or you could safely do without me) whatever you and he agree upon. There is absolutely no reason why you should not agree. Yours as ever[,] A. Lincoln P.S. I forgot to say that Hon[.] James S. Rollins M.C. [Member of Congress] from one of the Missouri Districts wishes that upon his personal responsibility, Rev[.] John M[.] Robinson of Columbia Mo.[,] James L. Mathews of Boone County Mo. and James L[.] Stephens also of Boone County Mo. may be allowed to return to their respective homes. Maj. Rollins leaves with me very strong papers from the neighbors of these men whom he says he knows to be true men. He also says he has many constituents who he thinks are rightfully exiled, but that he thinks these men should be allowed to return. Please look into this case and oblige Maj. Rollins if you consistently can. Yours truly[,] A. Lincoln (Copy sent to Governor Gamble)