Stanton and Secession

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"While I was in pursuit of General Lee, The President went to Richmond in company with Admiral Porter, and on board his flagship. He found the people of that city in great consternation. The leading citizens among the people who had remained at home surrounded him, anxious that something should be done to relieve them from suspense. General Weitzel was not then in the city, having taken offices in one of the neighboring villages after his troops had succeeded in subduing the conflagration which they had found in progress on entering the Confederate capital. The President sent for him, and on his arrival, a short interview was had on board the vessel, Admiral Porter and leading citizens of Virginia also being present. After this interview the President wrote an order in about these words, which I quote from memory: "General Weitzel is authorized to permit the body calling itself the Legislature of Virginia to meet for the purpose of recalling the Virginia troops from the Confederate armies".

Immediately some of the gentlemen composing that body wrote out a call for a meeting and had it published in their papers. This call, however, went very much further than Mr Lincoln had contemplated, as he did not say the 'Legislature of Virginia' but 'the body which called itself the Legislature of Virginia'. Mr Stanton saw the call as published in the Northern papers the very next issue and took the liberty of countermanding the order authorizing any meeting of the Legislature, or any other body, and this notwithstanding the fact that the President was nearer the spot than he was.

This was characteristic of Mr Stanton. He was a man who never questioned his own authority, and who alwys did in war time what he wanted to do. He was an able constitutional lawyer and jurist; but the Constitution was not an impediment to him while the war lasted. In this latter particular I entirely agree with the view he evidently held. The Constitution was not framed with a view to any such rebellion as that of of 1861-5. While it did not authorize rebellion it made no provision against it. Yet the right to resist or suppress rebellion is as inherent as the right of self-defence, and as natural as the right of an individual to preserve his life when in jeopardy. The Constitutuion was therefore in abeyance for the time being, so far as in any way affected the progress and termination of the war.

Those in rebellion against the government of the United States were not restricted by Constitutional provisions, or any other, except the acts of their Congress, which was loyal and devoted to the cause for which the South was then fighting. It would be a hard case when one-third of a nation, united in rebellion against the national authority, is entirely untrammeled, that the other two-thirds, in their efforts to maintain the Union intact, should be restrained by a Constitution preparped by our ancestors for the express purposed of insuring the permanency of the confederation of the States."

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don't think I've ever read a more succinct explanation than that given by Grant with regard to secession.

I was also interested to read that Stanton had countermanded the order of the President in this instance. It's obvious he was a very powerful man. Was he more powerful than the President with regard to this issue - that of the Constitution and secession? What were the powers of the Secretary of War?
 
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"While I was in pursuit of General Lee, The President went to Richmond in company with Admiral Porter, and on board his flagship. He found the people of that city in great consternation. The leading citizens among the people who had remained at home surrounded him, anxious that something should be done to relieve them from suspense. General Weitzel was not then in the city, having taken offices in one of the neighboring villages after his troops had succeeded in subduing the conflagration which they had found in progress on entering the Confederate capital. The President sent for him, and on his arrival, a short interview was had on board the vessel, Admiral Porter and leading citizens of Virginia also being present. After this interview the President wrote an order in about these words, which I quote from memory: "General Weitzel is authorized to permit the body calling itself the Legislature of Virginia to meet for the purpose of recalling the Virginia troops from the Confederate armies".

Immediately some of the gentlemen composing that body wrote out a call for a meeting and had it published in their papers. This call, however, went very much further than Mr Lincoln had contemplated, as he did not say the 'Legislature of Virginia' but 'the body which called itself the Legislature of Virginia'. Mr Stanton saw the call as published in the Northern papers the very next issue and took the liberty of countermanding the order authorizing any meeting of the Legislature, or any other body, and this notwithstanding the fact that the President was nearer the spot than he was.

This was characteristic of Mr Stanton. He was a man who never questioned his own authority, and who alwys did in war time what he wanted to do. He was an able constitutional lawyer and jurist; but the Constitution was not an impediment to him while the war lasted. In this latter particular I entirely agree with the view he evidently held. The Constitution was not framed with a view to any such rebellion as that of of 1861-5. While it did not authorize rebellion it made no provision against it. Yet the right to resist or suppress rebellion is as inherent as the right of self-defence, and as natural as the right of an individual to preserve his life when in jeopardy. The Constitutuion was therefore in abeyance for the time being, so far as in any way affected the progress and termination of the war.

Those in rebellion against the government of the United States were not restricted by Constitutional provisions, or any other, except the acts of their Congress, which was loyal and devoted to the cause for which the South was then fighting. It would be a hard case when one-third of a nation, united in rebellion against the national authority, is entirely untrammeled, that the other two-thirds, in their efforts to maintain the Union intact, should be restrained by a Constitution preparped by our ancestors for the express purposed of insuring the permanency of the confederation of the States."

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don't think I've ever read a more succinct explanation than that given by Grant with regard to secession.

I was also interested to read that Stanton had countermanded the order of the President in this instance. It's obvious he was a very powerful man. Was he more powerful than the President with regard to this issue - that of the Constitution and secession? What were the powers of the Secretary of War?

Lincoln's entire cabinet disagreed with any recognition of the rebel Virginia legislature. When Radical Republican Benjamin Wade found out about the order he reacted furiously and is reported to have yelled at fellow Radical George W. Julian, "that there had been much talk about the assassination of Lincoln -- that if he authorized the approval of that paper, by God, the sooner he was assassinated, the better."
 

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Lincoln's entire cabinet disagreed with any recognition of the rebel Virginia legislature. When Radical Republican Benjamin Wade found out about the order he reacted furiously and is reported to have yelled at fellow Radical George W. Julian, "that there had been much talk about the assassination of Lincoln -- that if he authorized the approval of that paper, by God, the sooner he was assassinated, the better."
Wow! That certainly adds some weight to the conspiracy theories...

So, it was the fact that the "Legislature" was not entitled to any recognition according to Radical Republicans?

The President must have known this, and yet he made his request. Does this mean as Secretary of War Stanton had the right to overrule him?
 
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John S. Carter

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"While I was in pursuit of General Lee, The President went to Richmond in company with Admiral Porter, and on board his flagship. He found the people of that city in great consternation. The leading citizens among the people who had remained at home surrounded him, anxious that something should be done to relieve them from suspense. General Weitzel was not then in the city, having taken offices in one of the neighboring villages after his troops had succeeded in subduing the conflagration which they had found in progress on entering the Confederate capital. The President sent for him, and on his arrival, a short interview was had on board the vessel, Admiral Porter and leading citizens of Virginia also being present. After this interview the President wrote an order in about these words, which I quote from memory: "General Weitzel is authorized to permit the body calling itself the Legislature of Virginia to meet for the purpose of recalling the Virginia troops from the Confederate armies".

Immediately some of the gentlemen composing that body wrote out a call for a meeting and had it published in their papers. This call, however, went very much further than Mr Lincoln had contemplated, as he did not say the 'Legislature of Virginia' but 'the body which called itself the Legislature of Virginia'. Mr Stanton saw the call as published in the Northern papers the very next issue and took the liberty of countermanding the order authorizing any meeting of the Legislature, or any other body, and this notwithstanding the fact that the President was nearer the spot than he was.

This was characteristic of Mr Stanton. He was a man who never questioned his own authority, and who alwys did in war time what he wanted to do. He was an able constitutional lawyer and jurist; but the Constitution was not an impediment to him while the war lasted. In this latter particular I entirely agree with the view he evidently held. The Constitution was not framed with a view to any such rebellion as that of of 1861-5. While it did not authorize rebellion it made no provision against it. Yet the right to resist or suppress rebellion is as inherent as the right of self-defence, and as natural as the right of an individual to preserve his life when in jeopardy. The Constitutuion was therefore in abeyance for the time being, so far as in any way affected the progress and termination of the war.

Those in rebellion against the government of the United States were not restricted by Constitutional provisions, or any other, except the acts of their Congress, which was loyal and devoted to the cause for which the South was then fighting. It would be a hard case when one-third of a nation, united in rebellion against the national authority, is entirely untrammeled, that the other two-thirds, in their efforts to maintain the Union intact, should be restrained by a Constitution preparped by our ancestors for the express purposed of insuring the permanency of the confederation of the States."

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don't think I've ever read a more succinct explanation than that given by Grant with regard to secession.

I was also interested to read that Stanton had countermanded the order of the President in this instance. It's obvious he was a very powerful man. Was he more powerful than the President with regard to this issue - that of the Constitution and secession? What were the powers of the Secretary of War?
This Leg. of Va. was it composed of Unionist?
What was the result of this action as pertaining to the men from Va.?What was Lincoln's repose to Stanton countermand or did he know of Stanton's actions? In the South as to rebellion they looked to the Declaration of Independence in providing reason for their Revolution {notice its a Revolution not a Rebellion,Lincoln referred to it as the latter}
 
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Wow! That certainly adds some weight to the conspiracy theories...

So, it was the fact that the "Legislature" was not entitled to any recognition according to Radical Republicans?

The President must have known this, and yet he made his request. Does this mean as Secretary of War Stanton had the right to overrule him?
Non-recognition of Virginia's rebel legislature appeared to pretty much be the norm...except for Lincoln. The pro-Union Restored Virginia government disagreed with any recognition and felt slighted, as did Lincoln's entire cabinet and his Attorney General. According to Doris Kearns Goodwin in her Team of Rivals, pg. 730, on the afternoon of April 12, 1865, when Stanton "full of feeling" went off on Lincoln about the order, it was Lincoln who wrote the telegram rescinding the order. It would be the last order issued in his name from the War Department.
 

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except for Lincoln
it was Lincoln who wrote the telegram rescinding the order. It would be the last order issued in his name from the War Department.
So Lincoln took the advice of the Secretary of War, rather than was 'countermanded' by him. The memoirs gave me a different impression. And why was Lincoln so willing where others were not? He seemed to be in disagreement with everyone on this.
 
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notice its a Revolution not a Rebellion,Lincoln referred to it as the latter
Noted, @John S. Carter , and this isn't an attempt to label the CW either/or. I was interested in what Grant had to say about Stanton, and his impact in this particular circumstance. Also, I think he summed up the issue of secession quite well in his memoirs with regard to the Constitution from his point of view.
 
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So Lincoln took the advice of the Secretary of War, rather than was 'countermanded' by him. The memoirs gave me a different impression. And why was Lincoln so willing where others were not? He seemed to be in disagreement with everyone on this.
Yes, according to Goodwin as does Burlingame in his Abraham Lincoln - A Life, (pg 794) According to Burlingame, the rebel legislature did meet in Richmond and immediately "grossly overstepped the bounds Lincoln had placed on their authority." Unfortunately Burlingame does not go into detail as to what they did other than to say "they acted as though they were the legitimate government of the commonwealth, empowered to negotiate peace terms."
 

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the rebel legislature did meet in Richmond and immediately "grossly overstepped the bounds Lincoln had placed on their authority." Unfortunately Burlingame does not go into detail as to what they did other than to say "they acted as though they were the legitimate government of the commonwealth, empowered to negotiate peace terms."
Lincoln must have been able to negotiate this option, I'm guessing just prior to his death if he also set bounds on their authority. Thanks for the further insight, and references.
 
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"While I was in pursuit of General Lee, The President went to Richmond in company with Admiral Porter, and on board his flagship. He found the people of that city in great consternation. The leading citizens among the people who had remained at home surrounded him, anxious that something should be done to relieve them from suspense. General Weitzel was not then in the city, having taken offices in one of the neighboring villages after his troops had succeeded in subduing the conflagration which they had found in progress on entering the Confederate capital. The President sent for him, and on his arrival, a short interview was had on board the vessel, Admiral Porter and leading citizens of Virginia also being present. After this interview the President wrote an order in about these words, which I quote from memory: "General Weitzel is authorized to permit the body calling itself the Legislature of Virginia to meet for the purpose of recalling the Virginia troops from the Confederate armies".

Immediately some of the gentlemen composing that body wrote out a call for a meeting and had it published in their papers. This call, however, went very much further than Mr Lincoln had contemplated, as he did not say the 'Legislature of Virginia' but 'the body which called itself the Legislature of Virginia'. Mr Stanton saw the call as published in the Northern papers the very next issue and took the liberty of countermanding the order authorizing any meeting of the Legislature, or any other body, and this notwithstanding the fact that the President was nearer the spot than he was.

This was characteristic of Mr Stanton. He was a man who never questioned his own authority, and who alwys did in war time what he wanted to do. He was an able constitutional lawyer and jurist; but the Constitution was not an impediment to him while the war lasted. In this latter particular I entirely agree with the view he evidently held. The Constitution was not framed with a view to any such rebellion as that of of 1861-5. While it did not authorize rebellion it made no provision against it. Yet the right to resist or suppress rebellion is as inherent as the right of self-defence, and as natural as the right of an individual to preserve his life when in jeopardy. The Constitutuion was therefore in abeyance for the time being, so far as in any way affected the progress and termination of the war.

Those in rebellion against the government of the United States were not restricted by Constitutional provisions, or any other, except the acts of their Congress, which was loyal and devoted to the cause for which the South was then fighting. It would be a hard case when one-third of a nation, united in rebellion against the national authority, is entirely untrammeled, that the other two-thirds, in their efforts to maintain the Union intact, should be restrained by a Constitution preparped by our ancestors for the express purposed of insuring the permanency of the confederation of the States."

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don't think I've ever read a more succinct explanation than that given by Grant with regard to secession.

I was also interested to read that Stanton had countermanded the order of the President in this instance. It's obvious he was a very powerful man. Was he more powerful than the President with regard to this issue - that of the Constitution and secession? What were the powers of the Secretary of War?
Grant was a terrific general, but he was not a good constitutional scholar. The Constitution most certainly had provisions against rebellion. It authorized the suspension of habeas corpus in case of rebellion, and it authorized calling out the militia to combat it.

The constitutional scholar Timothy Farrar wrote an essay in 1862 titled, "The Adequacy of the Constitution" that showed the Constitution provided sufficient tools to put down the rebellion and thus the Constitution was not in abeyance during the war.
https://books.google.com/books?id=UZEFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=Timothy+Farrar+adequacy+of+the+constitution&source=bl&ots=25p-okcjYt&sig=tUkb1s5a8dKjl8g8Zuvb9sC_11k&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjJoI6RgNzaAhXEmOAKHSCXDcoQ6AEwBXoECAAQPQ#v=onepage&q=Timothy Farrar adequacy of the constitution&f=false

It was Lincoln himself who countermanded his authorization for the body calling itself the Virginia Legislature to meet.

Here's Admiral David Dixon Porter's account:
“When the President told me all that had been done, and that General Weitzel had gone on shore with an order in his pocket to let the Legislature meet, I merely said: ‘Mr. President, I suppose you remember that this city is under military jurisdiction, and that no courts, Legislature, or civil authority can exercise any power without the sanction of the general commanding the army. This order of yours should go through General Grant, who would inform you that Richmond was under martial law; and I am sure he would protest against this arrangement of Mr. Campbell’s.'”
“The President’s common sense took in the situation at once. ‘Why,’ he said, ‘Weitzel made no objection, and he commands here.'”
“‘That is because he is Mr. Campbell’s particular friend, and wished to gratify him; besides, I don’t think he knows much about anything but soldiering. General Shepley would not have preferred such a request.'”
“‘Run and stop them,’ exclaimed the President, ‘and get my order back! Well, I came near knocking all the fat into the fire, didn’t I?'”
“To make things sure, I had an order written to General Weitzel and signed by the President as follows: ‘Return my permission to the Legislature of Virginia to meet, and don’t allow it to meet at all.’ There was an ambulance-wagon at the landing, and giving the order to an officer, I said to him, ‘Jump into that wagon, and kill the horse if necessary, but catch the carriage which carried General Weitzel and Mr. Campbell, and deliver this order to the general.'”

http://www.abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org/abraham-lincoln-state-by-state/abraham-lincoln-and-virginia/
 

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Grant was a terrific general, but he was not a good constitutional scholar. The Constitution most certainly had provisions against rebellion. It authorized the suspension of habeas corpus in case of rebellion, and it authorized calling out the militia to combat it.
I have often advised folks not to read the Memoirs until

1. a good solid Civil War history foundation is established

2. a Grant biography has been read

It is very easy to become entranced by the Memoirs and forget that it is not a history book.
 

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I have often advised folks not to read the Memoirs until

1. a good solid Civil War history foundation is established

2. a Grant biography has been read

It is very easy to become entranced by the Memoirs and forget that it is not a history book.
That is good, solid advice.
 
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I have often advised folks not to read the Memoirs until

1. a good solid Civil War history foundation is established

2. a Grant biography has been read

It is very easy to become entranced by the Memoirs and forget that it is not a history book.
No doubt, good advice. The thing it does is raises the questions, and Grant had time to consider what he wrote.
I've no doubt his sole perspective doesn't provide all the insight, so it's back to the books for me, but I do appreciate the 'scholarship' here which sends me in the right direction to find the answers I am seeking.
 
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“To make things sure, I had an order written to General Weitzel and signed by the President as follows: ‘Return my permission to the Legislature of Virginia to meet, and don’t allow it to meet at all.’
What changed after this that then allowed the meeting to go ahead? As I said earlier, Lincoln must have negotiated the option after this event.

And I do appreciate your earlier post, which has me wondering why Grant thought the Constitution was in abeyance.
 

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What changed after this that then allowed the meeting to go ahead? As I said earlier, Lincoln must have negotiated the option after this event.

And I do appreciate your earlier post, which has me wondering why Grant thought the Constitution was in abeyance.
The meeting did not go ahead.
 
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Refreshing my memory, yes, they met, but not after the revocation of the order reached Gen. Weitzel.
OK. Sorry, my misunderstanding. I thought the meeting was prohibited from going ahead initially, but went ahead after the fact. Thanks for clarifying.
 
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