previous next

[322] and, indeed, expostulation, was a circumstance all-important in determining the probability of this charge as to himself. It was equally and decisively manifest, by the same sources of information, that Mr. Davis steadily and unflinchingly set himself in opposition to the indulgence of such demands, and declined to resort to any measure of violent retaliation. It impaired his personal influence, and brought much censure upon him from many in the South, who sincerely believed the reports spread among the people to be really true. The desire that something should be attempted from which a better care of prisoners could be secured seems to have grown so strong and prevalent that, on July 2d, 1863, Mr. Davis accepted the proffered service of Mr. Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice-President, to proceed as a military commissioner to Washington. The sole purpose of Mr. Davis in allowing that commission appears, from the said documents, which I read, to have been to place the war on the footing of such as are waged by civilized people in modern times, and to divest it of a savage character, which, it was claimed, had been impressed on it in spite of all effort and protest; and alleged instances of such savage conduct were named and averred. This project was prevented, as Mr. Stephens was denied permission by our Administration to approach Washington, and intercourse with him prohibited. On his return, after this rejected effort to produce a mutual kindness in the treatment of prisoners, Southern feeling became more unquiet on the matter than ever; yet it clearly appears that Mr. Davis would not yield to the demand for retaliation.

The evidence tending to show this to be the true condition of the case as to Mr. Davis himself was brought by me and submitted to Mr. Greeley, and in part to Mr. Wilson. The result was, these gentlemen, and those others in sympathy with them, changed their former suspicion to a favorable opinion and a friendly disposition. They were from this time kept informed of each movement as made to liberate Mr. Davis, or to compel the Government to bring the prisoner to trial. All this took place before counsel, indeed before any one acting on his behalf, was allowed to communicate with or see him.

The Tribune now, at once, began a series of leading editorials demanding that our Government proceed with the trial; and on January 16, 1866, incited by those editorials, Senator Howard, of Michigan, offered a joint resolution, aided by Mr. Sumner, “recommending the trial of Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay before a military tribunal or court-martial, for charges mentioned in the report of the Secretary of War, of March 4, 1866.” It will be interesting to mention now that if a trial proceeded in this manner, I was then creditably informed, Mr. Thaddeus Stevens had volunteered as counsel for Mr. Clay.

After it had become evident that there was no immediate prospect of any trial, if any prospect at all, the counsel for Mr. Davis became anxious that their client be liberated on bail, and one of


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Washington (United States) (2)
Michigan (Michigan, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (8)
Alexander H. Stephens (2)
Clement C. Clay (2)
Henry Wilson (1)
Sumner (1)
Thaddeus Stevens (1)
A. G. Howard (1)
Horace Greeley (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 4th, 1866 AD (1)
January 16th, 1866 AD (1)
July 2nd, 1863 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: