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[167] nothing to do with ordinary politics. Sherman's despatches show that he was as decided in this matter as Grant, yet neither was a politician, and if either had political sympathies before the rebellion, it was with those who called themselves Democrats. Grant could not but feel the keenest interest in the success of the party that was pledged to carry on the war, but he earnestly deprecated any obtrusion of the army into civil affairs.

It had been proposed by some of the states to allow the soldiers in the field to vote, and the government invited his views on the subject. He was strongly in favor of the measure, but thought it should be surrounded by checks and safeguards. ‘The exercise of the right of suffrage by an army in the field,’ he said, ‘has generally been considered dangerous to constitutional liberty, as well as subversive to military discipline. But our circumstances are novel and exceptional. A very large proportion of the legal voters of the United States are now either under arms in the field, or in hospitals, or otherwise engaged in the military service of the United States. Most of these men, if not regular soldiers in the strict sense of that term, still less are they mercenaries, who give their services to the government simply for its pay, having little understanding of political questions, or feeling little or no interest in them. On the contrary, they are American citizens, having still their homes and social and political ties binding them to the states and districts from which they come and to which they expect to return. They have left their homes temporarily, to sustain ’

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