How can this be done? As a political question and a question of humanity, can I receive the services of a father and a mother and not take the children? Of the humanitarian aspect I have no doubt; of the political one I have no right to judge. I therefore submit all this to your better judgment; and, as these questions have a political aspect, I have ventured — and I trust I am not wrong in so doing — to duplicate the parts of my despatch relating to this subject, and forward them to the Secretary of War. Your obedient servant,
--N. Y. Times, June 2.
Secretary of war to General Butler.
Washington, May 30, 1861.Sir: Your action in respect to the negroes who came within your lines, from the service of the rebels, is approved. The Department is sensible of the embarrassments, which must surround officers conducting military operations in a State, by the laws of which slavery is sanctioned. The Government cannot recognize the rejection by any State of its Federal obligation, resting upon itself, among these Federal obligations. However, no one can be more important than that of suppressing and dispersing any combination of the former for the purpose of overthrowing its whole constitutional authority. While, therefore, you will permit no interference, by persons under your command, with the relations of persons held to service under the laws of any State, you will, on the other hand, so long as any State within which your military operations are conducted, remain under the control of such armed combinations, refrain from surrendering to alleged masters any persons who come within your lines. You will employ such persons in the services to which they will be best adapted, keeping an account of the labor by them performed, of the value of it, and the expenses of their maintenance. The question of their final disposition will be reserved for future determination.
--N. Y. Tribune, May 31