Document: Alexander K. McClure to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1863

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Abraham Lincoln Papers


Document: Alexander K. McClure to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1863

Time 1105 AM

Washington, D. C., June 30 1863

Philadelphia June 30

Have been twenty four hours from home Hoping to hasten the organization of troops It seems impossible to do so to an extent at all commensurate with the emergency Our people are paralyzed for want of confidence & leadership & unless they can be inspired with hope we shall fail to do anything worthy of our State or Govt I am fully persuaded that to call McClellan to a command here would be the best thing that could be done He could rally troops from Penna & I am well assured that New York & New Jersey would also respond to his call with great alacrity with his efficiency in organizing men & the confidence he would inspire early & effectual relief might be afforded us & great service rendered to the Army of the Potomac Unless we are in some way rescued from the hopelessness now prevailing we shall have practically an inefficient conscription & be powerless to help either ourselves or the National Govt After free consultation with trusted friends of the Administration I hesitate not to urge that McClellan be called here-- He can render us & you the best service & in the present crisis no other considerations should prevail without military success we can have no policall1 success no matter who command In this request I reflect what seems to be an imperative necessity rather than any preference of my own2

1 The other copy of this telegram in this collection indicates that the word should be “political.”

2 Lincoln replied that re-appointing McClellan to a position of command would be like “opening one leak to stop another.” See Collected Works, VI, 311.

A K McClure


Document: Ira P. Rankin to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1863

Personal and confidential

San Francisco June 30. 1863


On the first day of the present month I relinquished the position of Collector of this port which I received by your favor two years before, to the Hon F. F. Low1 appointed by you as my successor

1 ID: Frederick F. Low, a California merchant, banker and politician, served as a Republican in the U. S. House of Representatives (1862-63). After the expiration of his term in Congress, Low was appointed to replace Ira P. Rankin as the collector of customs at San Francisco. Low held this office for only a few months and resigned in order to become governor in December, 1863. Low served a single four year term as governor and was appointed minister to China in 1869.

I have hesitated about saying anything to you on the subject, but have concluded that I should not do justice to my own feelings should I omit to do so. The fact that you appointed me to so responsible a position proves that at the time of the appointment I had your confidence: I am not willing by my silence to leave room for the impression on your mind that in my own judgment I have done anything to forfeit it.

On the contrary I retire from office certainly not without regret, which in view of the manner of my leaving would be impossible, but without self reproach.

I have to the best of my ability, and I know with diligence and integrity performed the duties of my position. Whatever may be the case hereafter the Govt (I speak with confidence from what I know of the former course of business) has never before been so well served in this office. What I believed to be a true economy in expenditures has been observed so far as matters came under my authority; good & faithful men have been appointed to place; frauds to a large extent which had escaped detection for years have been discovered and broken up, and nearly a quarter million dollars worth of merchandise involved in them seized and confiscated; and outside of the specific duties of my place as Collector I have to the best of my ability filled that somewhat representative position which as a leading officer of the general government the Collector of this distant port is considered to occupy. I do not for a moment question that with the light you had you acted in my removal with sole reference to your public duty, and what you believed to be the good of the service, and therefore I submit without complaint.

You will permit me however to say that in my judgment as in that of all honorable and disinterested men here without an exception -- which I ever heard of, the manner in which the affairs of the Custom House were investigated and reported upon was an outrage upon the simplest principles of justice, and one than which, if generally pursued with public officers, nothing would tend more directly to bring the government into disrepute.

The examination made by the Special Agent of the Treasury2 was Entirely ex-parte. I was neither present nor represented. I never saw a word of the testimony given by perhaps 100 witnesses with one single exception. Matters which I explained are left unexplained in the Agents report. Other matters are unfavorably reported upon, in regard to which seeing that the Agent had wrong impressions, I desired him to call certain witnesses believing they would disabuse his mind, but my request was in no case complied with. I have most conclusive evidence that long before Mr Brown left this City he had selected my successor, who as a matter of fact I understand came very near being appointed instead of Mr Low.

2 Thomas Brown was the special agent of the Treasury Department who investigated the San Francisco customs house in 1862-63.

My case was most manifestly prejudged, as was noticed and remarked upon by many of my friends during the progress of the investigation. The whole thing was conducted with the most monstrous unfairness. In addition to what I have already intimated as to its character, the Agent selected to aid him as his legal adviser a Mr Merrill known by him to be bitterly hostile to me, and to be an applicant for the place I was filling -- actually to my certain knowledge applying for influence to aid his aspirations during the very time he was acting in the above capacity

I do not hesitate to say that no officer of the government in any of its departments could expect to come out blameless from an investigation so conducted.

I know the substance of Mr Browns report, upon which I suppose my removal was decided upon, and I declare it to be in some of its most important parts absolutely and specifically false, while I declare it as a whole to be so framed as to be substantially false in its intent and Effect.

Yet I beg to assure you, that though I feel I have been wronged when a conspiracy of a years growth started and fed here and fanned at Washington, has culminated in my removal from office, my private griefs are of little consequence, and will in no way affect my disposition to do everything in my power towards sustaining the government and your Administration

As a private individual, I can perhaps more calmly and disinterestedly admire the earnestness, wisdom and unquestioned patriotism with which you have met great difficulties and great crises, and so far as the Executive is concerned, navigated the ship of state amidst a sea of troubles. The sympathies of all good and patriotic men on this coast are with you, and will be to the end.

Mr Low, who would I don’t doubt, have made a very acceptable Collector, you will probably have been advised before this reaches you, has been nominated as our Candidate for Governor. I hear the names of numbers of of persons as candidates for the Collectorship.

Permit me as a private citizen, whose opinion however upon public men in this state, I claim to be as good as that of any other man, to refer to two or three of them, among many. Mr Phelps3 our late Congressman is named. While I don’t think he would make any better Collector than you have had for the past two years, he is a respectable man, reasonably popular, and would I presume make a satisfactory officer. Annis Merrill is a lawyer, cold selfish and thoroughly unpopular. D. W. Cheesman (Assistant Treasurer) is also a candidate. In my judgment it would not be easy to find a more unsuitable man, having reference to his notorious want of business capacity, his manners, character, and his standing both in the community at large and in the party.

The Collector of this port is brought into contact not only with his own subordinates, and the persons ordinarily doing business at the Custom House, but with Foreign consuls, distinguished strangers, and with other officers of the government both civil and military upon numerous matters of consultation and advice, and for the credit of the administration it is of great importance that the man holding the position should be thoroughly competent and suitable to fill it.

3 Timothy G. Phelps was a Republican member of the Thirty-seventh Congress (1861-63) from California.

Begging you to excuse me for troubling you at such length, I remain always

With great respect

Your most obt Svt

Ira P. Rankin

Document: Robert C. Schenck to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1863

Time 845 PM

Washington D. C., June 30th 1863

Baltimore June 30th 63/840 PM

I had four thousand able bodied negroes at work on fortifications. Many of them Seem to want to Continue to work or would fight for the Govt. I Sent papers ten days ago urging and recommending a proposition to Create from among them a regt of Sappers & Miners. No Notice was taken of the proposition. I believe one or two regts for the war Could be raised out of the good material if you would authorize it and have it done immediately while the humor is on them1

1 Lincoln replied on July 4 that he had read Schenck’s telegram but was not ready to take action on his recommendations. See Collected Works, VI, 317.

Robt C Schenck

Maj Genls


Document: John E. Thomson to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 18631

1 The following is one of numerous appeals sent to Lincoln which urged him to re-appoint General George B. McClellan to a position of command. On the same day that Lincoln received the telegram from Thomson, he wrote to Alexander K. McClure that giving McClellan a command would be like “opening one leak to stop another.” See Collected Works, VI, 311.

Time 305 PM

Washington, D. C., June 30 1863

Philadelphia 30

In my Judgment it is essential that McClellan be placed in Charge of the forces in Penna not now attached to the Army of the Potomac I speak as a friend

J. Edgar Thomson

Document: Mark W. Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, [June-July, 1863]1

1 This undated letter is from either June or July, 1863 when Governor Thomas Carney, Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy and other Kansas officials sought the removal of General James G. Blunt.


It is with extreme reluctance that I again find myself constrained to address you. I should not do so, did I not esteem it my duty as an Officer of the Government, and a hearty supporter of your Administration, to bring to your notice the attempts now being made to injure the Commanding General of this District, Maj. Gen’l Blunt, by accusations of a serious character which have no foundation in truth, and which are prompted by personal and political malice on the part of the accusers.2

2 For more on this feud, see Thomas Carney to Lincoln, June 25, 1863; Lincoln to James H. Lane, July 17, 1863; Carney to Lincoln, July 19, 1863; Collected Works, VI, 339; and Lincoln to Blunt, August 18, 1863.

I refer to the charges lately made to your Excellency, and to the Hon. Secretary of War, substantially to the effect that Gen. Blunt has inaugurated a reign of terror in our State, over-riding the Civil Authority, which is, it is stated, sufficient to protect the Citizen; that by the military executions he has commanded, and the Mob-law he has countenanced he has virtually placed the State of Kansas at the mercy of the irresponsible despotism of a mob backed by the Military power in his hands. These, I understand to be the charges made by Gov. Carney and U. S. Senator Pomeroy, to which I refer. I put their case thus strongly thus strongly that I may be able to answer in the same strain--

The Military District which Genl Blunt commands, has been, and is now, almost denuded of troops. There are not 5000 effective men in it, and nearly all of them are engaged in the defense of the territory of our Cherokee Allies. I need hardly remind you that the border Counties of Missouri are reeking with numerous gangs of pestilent guerrillas, that in the State of Kansas itself, there are many violent and lawless men, whose numbers have within six months past been largely increased by accessitions -- from Missouri, of sympathizers with bushwhacking who have been driven out of that State by the severe measures of the Federal Officers there, and who, unknown to our people have scattered themselves through our midst.

In addition to these elements produced by our border strife, and the present Civil war, we have more than our share of the lawless criminals who are always found on the receding frontier. Horse thieves, Gamblers, and all the scum of Older States find their way to our midst, and have held a carnival of crime among our unfortunate citizens for years past. Never since the State has been admitted have our civil authorities been able to cope with this evil. Both our Governors have been too busy -- the one in endeavoring to thwart measures of defense, because conducted by Genl Lane, and the other in intriguing for his future election to the U. S. Senate -- to earnestly endeavor to protect the interests of the community committed to their charge. The Authorities State, County, and Civic have in nearly every instance been unable to suppress crime and disorder. As a consequence, Bushwackers, Jay-hawkers -- & “red-legs” by turns have held sway in different sections of the State, until life and property were entirely unsafe--

Gen. Blunt knew these facts. He is the first man in any position of authority who has taken effective steps to suppress these evils. Owing to the inadequacy of the force at his command, he has not been able to do this as effectually and summarily as the circumstances demanded.

Since the hanging of a thief named Shirley -- by his order after being tried and sentenced by a Military Commission, for the robbery of a discharged soldier, which robbery occured on the Military Reservation of Fort Leavenworth; we have had unbroken peace in this city. Had Gen. Blunt not taken this man from the civil authorities, he would have been wrested from their hands and hung by a mob--

The principal Citizens here cordially endorse endorse the action of the General-- Among those who support him in this Act, will be found, our Mayor, the District Judge and Prosecuting Attorney, and other Officers of the County. I have no doubt that these gentlemen will at any time endorse their previously-expressed approval of this Act of General Blunt--

In relation to the countenancing of mob-law, it appears that the Citizens of Atchison, and Doniphan Counties, seized, in the act, almost, a number of thieves, who for a long time past, have been the terror of those communities, and who set at defiance the civil authority. The people tried them and condemned them to death, hanging two, first and then sending a Committee to Gen. Blunt to present the other cases to him with the evidence of crime they possessed, and asking that they might inflict the same penalty on them.

No one doubts the gross criminality of the parties the people tried. Gen. Blunt consented to their wishes; acting with him, were all the civil officers of the counties--

Even if he had not so consented -- having no force at his command, he could not have prevented the executions--

As it appears to all here who are unbiassed and who know the circumstances, these are occurences similar to those which have arisen in all our Western States, when in order to protect the people, it is necessary to adopt irregular means to secure justice. Every new State has this ordeal to pass through.

Had the State Executive devoted as much time to seeking a co-operation with the Commanding General as he does in finding fault with him for doing that which he -- the Governor -- is powerless to accomplish, a better state of things would exist here today--

There are various parties moving in this matter of destroying General Blunt’s Credit with your Excellency and the War Department -- besides Senator Pomeroy and Gov. Carney. All the influence they can command, unites in the movement-- Officers of the Regular Army, stationed at Fort Leavenworth, whose sympathy with the War and the Administration, are more than questioned, and who have been under the suspicion of the Commandg Genl therefore, -- are combined in the movements now making against him. In addition to these will be found prominent Missouri influences, already so potent, I regret, (you will allow me to say) in securing the present change in Department Commanders.

But beyond these political influences will there be found a strong under current of opposition from Officers and parties connected with the Indian Bureau.

It is known here that extensive frauds and outrages have been perpetrated on the loyal Indians and the Government. Gen. Blunt has rendered himself obnoxious by ferretting out and suppressing these crimes.

Doubtless, ere this, these grave matters have been upon his information
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