Did Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton stop Indiana from seceding and joining the Confedercy over the Emancipation Proclamation?

major bill

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Oliver P. Morton was governor of Indiana during the Civil War one of the claims is that he stopped Indiana from seceding and joining the Confedercy over the Emancipation Proclamation. To me this seems overstated. Still Morton was a major factor in the war for the Union. He was also a Radical Republican who played a major role in the Reconstruction era. He raised troops and money for the Union. During the war he was known for arresting and detaining southern supporters and Copperheads. He was criticized for arresting people who were his political opponents.

Historian James Ford Rhodes called him "The most energetic of the war governors of the Western States". Did Morton deserve such high regard?
 

Belfoured

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Oliver P. Morton was governor of Indiana during the Civil War one of the claims is that he stopped Indiana from seceding and joining the Confedercy over the Emancipation Proclamation. To me this seems overstated. Still Morton was a major factor in the war for the Union. He was also a Radical Republican who played a major role in the Reconstruction era. He raised troops and money for the Union. During the war he was known for arresting and detaining southern supporters and Copperheads. He was criticized for arresting people who were his political opponents.

Historian James Ford Rhodes called him "The most energetic of the war governors of the Western States". Did Morton deserve such high regard?
Fair points, but I do think that his unilateral actions in Winter 1862 - such as pro-roguing the Legislature and directing the Republican members to then refuse to re-convene, and his "creative" funding of supplies for Indiana's volunteer regiments - played a major role in keeping the Copperheads from effectively taking Indiana out of the war. He probably took more aggressive and forceful actions than any of his fellow War Governors, but that was primarily because - unlike them - he had to.
 
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I'm hoping this thread takes off and a lot of people contribute because this is history I'm not familiar with at all, and would like to know more about. Ohio was a Copperhead nest (I've read) but had no idea Indiana was ever in doubt for the Union.
 

Belfoured

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I'm hoping this thread takes off and a lot of people contribute because this is history I'm not familiar with at all, and would like to know more about. Ohio was a Copperhead nest (I've read) but had no idea Indiana was ever in doubt for the Union.
The following is oversimplified - there's a lot of relevant material. Indiana - especially the southern part - had a lot of Confederate sentiment. Morton had forged a fragile alliance of Republicans and War Democrats but the Emancipation Proclamation blew that up. From the beginning of the war Morton had insisted on the State having a lot of control over Indiana's troops in the field, especially funding them, but by early 1863 it looked like that would backfire and the Legislature would pull the funding. He persuaded Republican legislators to stay home, meaning that certain state constitutional quorum requirements for enacting bills could not be met. Because this also meant that appropriation bills could not be enacted, to deal with funding he resorted to conspiring with Stanton to divert federal funds and to borrowing from private sources. All "extra-legal" at best, but he kept Indiana's troops in the war until the crisis was over.
 

Arioch

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Morton was one of Lincoln's 'War Governor's'...along with the likes of Andrew Curtain of Pennsylvania and other newly elected Republicans.

When Lincoln was elected, his route to Washington went through the state capitals that had just elected him and other Republicans. Lincoln cemented these political alliances as he made his way to Washington. This alliance paid immediate dividends before he even got to the city. While in Harrisburg, resting from the long train ride and meeting with Gov. Curtain, intelligence came in about the potential assassination attempt while traveling through Baltimore.

Once Lincoln was in the White House, these Governors were the first to answer Lincoln's call for the initial 75k troops.
 

rob63

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Belfoured

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rob63

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Excellent article. Thanks for the link. Proving once again, nothing is ever simple!
Exactly! Belfoured put it very well earlier in the thread, he did things no other governor did, because he had to.

I know I always have to fight the temptation to try to make things a simple "good guys" vs. "bad guys", but here is a perfect example of why that almost never works. It's unlikely Indiana ever had another governor that violated the constitution so extensively, yet, he's the one that has a statue in front of the state capital.
 

major bill

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Exactly! Belfoured put it very well earlier in the thread, he did things no other governor did, because he had to.

I know I always have to fight the temptation to try to make things a simple "good guys" vs. "bad guys", but here is a perfect example of why that almost never works. It's unlikely Indiana ever had another governor that violated the constitution so extensively, yet, he's the one that has a statue in front of the state capital.
I wonder who paid for his statue?
 

rob63

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I wonder who paid for his statue?
I googled it and Wikipedia says the Indiana general assembly commissioned it.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_P._Morton_(monument)

682px-SH_Morton_6-12-14_114.jpg
 

rob63

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I wonder if it was by a unanimous vote?
It seems unlikely, doesn't it?

I have seen the statue many times, but had never really given it much thought until this thread. Reading articles about it I found out that the artist was an Indiana resident, born and trained in Austria, who had immigrated to the US to help build the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Indianapolis.

Monument_Circle%2C_Indianapolis%2C_Indiana%2C_USA.jpg


maxresdefault.jpg
 
The following is oversimplified - there's a lot of relevant material. Indiana - especially the southern part - had a lot of Confederate sentiment. Morton had forged a fragile alliance of Republicans and War Democrats but the Emancipation Proclamation blew that up. From the beginning of the war Morton had insisted on the State having a lot of control over Indiana's troops in the field, especially funding them, but by early 1863 it looked like that would backfire and the Legislature would pull the funding. He persuaded Republican legislators to stay home, meaning that certain state constitutional quorum requirements for enacting bills could not be met. Because this also meant that appropriation bills could not be enacted, to deal with funding he resorted to conspiring with Stanton to divert federal funds and to borrowing from private sources. All "extra-legal" at best, but he kept Indiana's troops in the war until the crisis was over.

In the February 1870 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, an article titled "Edwin M. Stanton" appeared that was written by Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson. It was a below the belt hit piece on the recently deceased former United States Attorney General and Secretary of War. The charges made by Wilson infuriated Jeremiah S. Black who had been the Attorney General in the Buchanan Administration until he was replaced by Stanton on December 17, 1860 after being appointed Secretary of State by the president.

In response to the defamation of Stanton in the Atlantic Monthly article, Black wrote a fiery and lengthy letter to Senator Wilson. In regards to Wilson's charge that Stanton had misappropriated monies from the U. S. Treasury to aid Governor Morton, Jeremiah Black responded :

" Your account of his raid upon the Treasury, in company with Governor Morton, would look very strange in a panegyric made by anybody else but you. I will restate the facts you have given, but without the drapery by which you conceal from yourself the view of them which must unavoidably be taken by all men who believe in the obligation of any law, human or divine. In the winter of 1863, the Legislature of Indiana was dissolved before the appropriations had been made to carry on the State government or aid in putting troops in the field. Of course, Congress did not and could not make appropriations for carrying on the State government, or putting troops in the field, which the State was bound to raise at her own expense. But the Governor determined to get what money he wanted without authority of law, and he looked to Washington for assistance. President Lincoln declined to aid him, because no money could be taken from the Treasury without appropriation. Mr. Stanton, being applied to, saw the critical condition of the Governor, and, without scruple, joined him in his financial enterprise. He drew a warrant for a quarter of a million dollars, and gave it to the Governor to spend as he pleased, not only without being authorized by any appropriation for that purpose, but in defiance of express law appropriating the same money to another and a totally different object. If this be true, the guilt of the parties can hardly be overcharged by any words which the English language will supply. It was getting money out of the public Treasury, not only unlawfully, but by a process as dishonest as larceny. It involved the making of a fraudulent warrant, of which the moral turpitude was no less than that committed by a private individual when he fabricates and utters a false paper. It was a gross and palpable violation of the oaths which the Governor and Secretary had both taken. It was, by the statute of 1846, a felonious embezzlement of the money thus obtained, punishable by a fine and ten years' imprisonment in the penitentiary. The parties, according to your version, were both conscious of the high crime they were perpetrating, for you make one say to the other, 'If the cause fails, you and I will be covered with prosecutions, and probably imprisoned or driven from the country.' You do not diminish or mitigate the offense one whit by saying that the money was afterward accounted for. A felony can not be compounded or condoned by a simple restitution of the spoils; and the law I have cited was made expressly to prevent officers charged with the safe-keeping, transfer, or disbursement of public money from using it to accommodate friends in a 'critical condition.' But what will be said of your trustworthiness as a contributor to history when the public comes to learn that this whole story is bogus? I pronounce it untrue in the aggregate and in the detail—in the sum total and in every item. The truth is this : In 1863 the Democratic majority of the Indiana Legislature were ready and willing to pass their proper and usual appropriation bills, but were prevented by the Republican minority, who 'bolted' and left the House without a quorum until the constitutional limit of their session expired. The Governor refused to reconvene them, and thus, by his own fault and that of his friends, he was without the ways and means to pay the current expenses of the State. He was wrong, but his error was that of a violent partisan, not the crime of a corrupt magistrate. He did not come to Washington with any intention to relieve his necessities by plundering the Federal Treasury. He made no proposition either to Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Stanton, that they or either of them should become his accomplices in any such infamous crime. His purpose was to demand payment of a debt due, and acknowledged to be due, from the United States to the State of Indiana. The money had been appropriated by Congress to pay it, and it was paid according to law! I know not how Mr. Morton may like to see himself held up as a felon confessing his guilt, but I can say with some confidence that, if Mr. Stanton were alive, he would call you to a very severe reckoning.",
Chauncey F. Black, Essays and Speeches of Jeremiah S. Black, pp. 259-260
 

Belfoured

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In the February 1870 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, an article titled "Edwin M. Stanton" appeared that was written by Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson. It was a below the belt hit piece on the recently deceased former United States Attorney General and Secretary of War. The charges made by Wilson infuriated Jeremiah S. Black who had been the Attorney General in the Buchanan Administration until he was replaced by Stanton on December 17, 1860 after being appointed Secretary of State by the president.

In response to the defamation of Stanton in the Atlantic Monthly article, Black wrote a fiery and lengthy letter to Senator Wilson. In regards to Wilson's charge that Stanton had misappropriated monies from the U. S. Treasury to aid Governor Morton, Jeremiah Black responded :

" Your account of his raid upon the Treasury, in company with Governor Morton, would look very strange in a panegyric made by anybody else but you. I will restate the facts you have given, but without the drapery by which you conceal from yourself the view of them which must unavoidably be taken by all men who believe in the obligation of any law, human or divine. In the winter of 1863, the Legislature of Indiana was dissolved before the appropriations had been made to carry on the State government or aid in putting troops in the field. Of course, Congress did not and could not make appropriations for carrying on the State government, or putting troops in the field, which the State was bound to raise at her own expense. But the Governor determined to get what money he wanted without authority of law, and he looked to Washington for assistance. President Lincoln declined to aid him, because no money could be taken from the Treasury without appropriation. Mr. Stanton, being applied to, saw the critical condition of the Governor, and, without scruple, joined him in his financial enterprise. He drew a warrant for a quarter of a million dollars, and gave it to the Governor to spend as he pleased, not only without being authorized by any appropriation for that purpose, but in defiance of express law appropriating the same money to another and a totally different object. If this be true, the guilt of the parties can hardly be overcharged by any words which the English language will supply. It was getting money out of the public Treasury, not only unlawfully, but by a process as dishonest as larceny. It involved the making of a fraudulent warrant, of which the moral turpitude was no less than that committed by a private individual when he fabricates and utters a false paper. It was a gross and palpable violation of the oaths which the Governor and Secretary had both taken. It was, by the statute of 1846, a felonious embezzlement of the money thus obtained, punishable by a fine and ten years' imprisonment in the penitentiary. The parties, according to your version, were both conscious of the high crime they were perpetrating, for you make one say to the other, 'If the cause fails, you and I will be covered with prosecutions, and probably imprisoned or driven from the country.' You do not diminish or mitigate the offense one whit by saying that the money was afterward accounted for. A felony can not be compounded or condoned by a simple restitution of the spoils; and the law I have cited was made expressly to prevent officers charged with the safe-keeping, transfer, or disbursement of public money from using it to accommodate friends in a 'critical condition.' But what will be said of your trustworthiness as a contributor to history when the public comes to learn that this whole story is bogus? I pronounce it untrue in the aggregate and in the detail—in the sum total and in every item. The truth is this : In 1863 the Democratic majority of the Indiana Legislature were ready and willing to pass their proper and usual appropriation bills, but were prevented by the Republican minority, who 'bolted' and left the House without a quorum until the constitutional limit of their session expired. The Governor refused to reconvene them, and thus, by his own fault and that of his friends, he was without the ways and means to pay the current expenses of the State. He was wrong, but his error was that of a violent partisan, not the crime of a corrupt magistrate. He did not come to Washington with any intention to relieve his necessities by plundering the Federal Treasury. He made no proposition either to Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Stanton, that they or either of them should become his accomplices in any such infamous crime. His purpose was to demand payment of a debt due, and acknowledged to be due, from the United States to the State of Indiana. The money had been appropriated by Congress to pay it, and it was paid according to law! I know not how Mr. Morton may like to see himself held up as a felon confessing his guilt, but I can say with some confidence that, if Mr. Stanton were alive, he would call you to a very severe reckoning.",
Chauncey F. Black, Essays and Speeches of Jeremiah S. Black, pp. 259-260
Interesting material - thanks for posting. I think that when all the advocacy by the anti- and pro-Stanton forces is pruned away, it's fair to say that Stanton and Morton stretched the contemporary understanding of what could lawfully be done in order to prevent the Copperheads from effectively removing Indiana from the war. As Lincoln and FDR proved, new challenges call for new interpretations.
 
Interesting material - thanks for posting. I think that when all the advocacy by the anti- and pro-Stanton forces is pruned away, it's fair to say that Stanton and Morton stretched the contemporary understanding of what could lawfully be done in order to prevent the Copperheads from effectively removing Indiana from the war. As Lincoln and FDR proved, new challenges call for new interpretations.
The closing paragraph of Black's letter to Wilson:
"Mr. Stanton's reputation is just now in a critical condition. He took no care of it while he lived, and he died, like [Francis] Bacon, leaving a vulnerable name 'to men's charitable speeches.' He needs a more discriminating eulogist than you, and a far better defense than I am able to make. I have not attempted to portray his good qualities ; I intended only to protest against your shameless parade of vices to which he was not addicted, and crimes which he never committed ; and this I have done, not only because it is just to him, but necessary for the vindication of others."
 
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