Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/22

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Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward practiced this deception on these commissioners by promising the evacuation of Fort Sumter, through Justices Campbell and Nelson, of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Seward was charged by Judge Campbell with the enormity of his conduct in regard to this matter, and he was asked to explain it, but no explanation was ever made, simply because there was none that could be made.


But again, Mr. Lincoln was the Commander-in-chief of the Armies and Navies of the United States, and he, therefore, had the power, and it was his duty, to see that the war was conducted on the principles adopted by the Federals themselves for the government of their armies, and which are those adopted and enforced by all civilized nations. Two of the most important of these rules were:

(1) "That private property, unless forfeited by crimes, or by offences of the owner against the safety of the army, or the dignity of the United States, and after conviction of the owner by court martial, can be seized only by way of military necessity for the support or benefit of the army of the United States.

(2) "All wanton violations committed against persons in the invaded country, all destruction of property not commanded by the authorized officer, all robbery, all pillage, all sacking even after taking a place by main force, all rape, wounding, maiming or killing of such inhabitants, are prohibited under penalty of death, or such other severe punishment as may seem adequate for the gravity of the offence."

Now, we repeat, these were the rules adopted by the United States for the government of its armies in the field, and it was the duty of Mr. Lincoln, as the Executive head of the government and Commander-in-chief of its armies, to see that they were respected, and enforced. We know how palpably these rules were violated by Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Pope, Butler, Hunter, Milroy, Steinweyer, and in fact by nearly every Federal commander; and we know too that these officers would not have dared to thus violate these rules, unless these violations had been known by them to be sanctioned by their official head, Mr. Lincoln, from whom they received their appointments and commissions, and whose duty it was to prevent such violations and outrages.