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1 “Mr. Lincoln was advised, and I also so advised him, that the various military trials in the Northern and Border States, where the courts were free and untrammelled, were unconstitutional and wrong; that they would not and ought not to be sustained by the Supreme Court; that such proceedings were dangerous to liberty. He said he was opposed to hanging; that he did not like to kill his fellow-man; that if the world had no butchers but himself it would go bloodless. When Joseph E. McDonald went to Lincoln about these military trials and asked him not to execute the men who had been convicted by the military commission in Indiana he answered that he would not hang them, but added, ‘I'll keep them in prison awhile to keep them from killing the Government.’ I am fully satisfied therefore that Lincoln was opposed to these military commissions, especially in the Northern States, where everything was open and free.” --David Davis, statement, September 10, 1866, to W. H. H.“I was counsel for Bowles, Milligan, et al., who had been convicted of conspiracy by military tribunal in Indiana. Early in 1865 I went to Washington to confer with the President, whom I had known, and with whom in earlier days I had practised law on the circuit in Illinois. My clients had been sentenced, and unless the President interfered were to have been executed. Mr. Hendricks, who was then in the Senate, and who seemed to have little faith in the probability of executive clemency, accompanied me to the White House. It was early in the evening, and so many callers and visitors had preceded us we anticipated a very brief interview. Much to our surprise we found Mr. Lincoln in a singularly cheerful and reminiscent mood. He kept us with him till almost eleven o'clock. He went over the history of my clients' crime as shown by the papers in the case, and suggested certain errors and imperfections in the record. The papers, he explained, would have to be returned for correction, and that would consume no little time. ‘You may go home, Mr. McDonald,’ he said, with a pleased expression, ‘and I'll send for you when the papers get back; but I apprehend and hope there will be such a jubilee over yonder,’ he added, pointing to the hills of Virginia just across the river, ‘we shall none of us want any more killing done.’ The papers started on their long and circuitous Journey, and sure enough, before they reached Washington again Mr. Lincoln's prediction of the return of peace had proved true” --Hon. Joseph E. McDonald, statement, August 28, 1888, to J. W. W.
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