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[245] other leader in the Southern States, as they could not but be aware of Mr. Lincoln's naturally kind heart and his good intentions toward them all; and Mr. Greeley asked me to become professionally interested in behalf of Mr. Davis.

I called to Mr. Greeley's attention that, although I was likeminded with himself as to this one view of the case, yet there was the other pending charge of cruel treatment of our Union soldiers while prisoners at Andersonville and other places, and that, unless our Government was willing to have it imputed that Wirtz was convicted and his sentence of death inflicted unjustly, it could not now overlook the superior who was, at least popularly, regarded as the moving cause of those wrongs; and that it Mr. Davis had been guilty of such breach of the rules for the conduct of war in modern civilization, he was not entitled to the rights of, nor to be manumitted as, a mere prisoner of war. I expressed the thought that my services before a military tribunal would be of little benefit. I hesitated; but finally told Mr. Greeley that I would consult with some of our common friends, whose countenance would give strength to such an undertaking, if it were discovered to be right, and that none but Republicans and some of the radical kind were likely to be of positive aid. Indeed, any other would have been injurious.

It occurred to me, from recollecting conversations with Mr. Henry Wilson,1 the previous April, while we were together at Hilton Head, South Carolina, that if Mr. Davis were guiltless of this latter offence, an avenue might be opened for a speedy trial, or for his manumission as any other prisoner of war. I did consult with such friends, and Mr. Henry Wilson, Governor John A. Andrew, Mr. Thaddeus Stephens,2 and Mr. Gerrit Smith were among them. The result was that I thereupon undertook to do whatever became feasible.

Although not in strictness required to elucidate our present intent, it is, nevertheless, becoming the history of the case simply to mention that Mr. Charles O'Conor was, from the first, esteemed the most valuable man to lead for the defence by Mr.

1 Since the Vice-President of the United States.

2 Then the acknowledged leader of the radical and controlling wing of the Republican party in the House of Representatives.

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