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[519] Subsequently, and as if to continue the joke, he sent him down to confer with the Secretary of War. He soon returned from the latter's office with the report that the head of the War Department could not be found; and it was well enough that he did not meet that abrupt and oftentimes demonstrative official. In the course of time, however, the latter happened in at the Executive Mansion, and there, in the presence of Dennis, the President sought to reopen the now noted Charleston case. Adopting Mr. Hanks' version, the Secretary, with his characteristic plainness of speech, referring to the prisoners, declared that “every d — d one of them should be hung.” Even the humane and kindly enquiry of the President, “If these men should return home and become good citizens, who would be hurt?” failed to convince the distinguished Secretary that the public good could be promoted by so doing. The President not feeling willing to override the judgment of his War Secretary in this instance, further consideration of the case ceased, and his cousin returned to his home in Illinois with his mission unaccomplished.1

Dennis retained a rather unfavorable impression of Mr. Stanton, whom he described as a “frisky little Yankee with a short coat-tail.” “I asked Abe,” he said to me once, “why he didn't kick him out. I told him he was too fresh altogether.”

1 The subsequent history of these riot cases I believe is that the prisoners were returned to Illinois to be tried in the State courts there; and that by successive changes of venue and continuances the cases were finally worn out.

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