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[63] The President, the Chief-Justice, the Attorney-General, and Judge Underwood all admitted their desire to grant the release, but each found some refined constitutional objection to gratifying these wishes, and the result of their self-denial was that Mr. Davis remained in custody.

There is good authority for saying that while the efforts to secure the release of Mr. Davis on bail, or otherwise, were being made by Mr. O'Conor and others, there was behind the scenes some adverse influence which was too powerful to be overcome, which Mr. O'Conor believed emanated from the Secretary of State, W. H. Seward. When Mr. Reverdy Johnson, the senator from Maryland, applied to Seward to help him in the effort to secure bail, Seward pointed to the scar on his neck, made by the knife of the assassin, and said: ‘You can hardly expect me to aid you.’

On the 10th of May, 1866, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution introduced by Mr. Boutwell, of Massachusetts, instructing the Judiciary Committee to inquire whether there was probable cause for believing in the criminality alleged against Davis and others, and whether any legislation was necessary to bring them to a speedy and impartial trial. To this committee it was that Colonel Turner was assigned as Judge Advocate, and it was due to his intelligent and indefatigable efforts that the frauds which had been practiced upon the Judge Advocate-General in the matter of depositions were discovered.

The committee finally made its report, admitting the falsity of the testimony, about which Holt had been so persistent, and practically clearing Mr. Davis from the charge of complicity in the murder of Mr. Lincoln, but at the same time whitewashing Holt, who had been bitterly attacked by the northern as well as the southern press. It further expressed the opinion that there was no legislation necessary to aid the courts in bringing Davis to trial, and that it was the duty of the Executive Department of the Government to do so.

In consequence of this resolution the President expressed to the Attorney-General (then Mr. Henry Stanbery) the opinion that there was no good reason why the trial should not proceed, and asked what remained for the Executive to do that such result might be reached. To this letter the Attorney-General replied on the 12th of October. In this reply he gave the status of the prisoner, with reference to much promised and oft boasted speedy and impartial trial. He advised the President that it was only necessary for him to order

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