Butler on the oath of allegiance.
--The following correspondence is published as having occurred between Butler
and the lady whose name is signed to the first letter:
My school has been closed since Christmas
, because; as I understood the oath required of us, I could not conscientiously take it. Having heard since that one of your officers explains the oath as meaning simply that we consent
to the acts of the United States Government, and pledge passive obedience
to the same, I take the liberty of addressing this to you, to ascertain if you so construct the oath.
I cannot understand how a woman can "support, protect, and defend the Union
," except by speaking or writing
in favor of the present war, which I could never do, because my sympathies are with the South
It by those words you understand merely passive submission,
I am ready to take the oath and abide by it sacredly.
Headq's 18th army Corps.
Department of Virginia and N. C.,
--I am truly sorry that my Union officer of mine has attempted to fritter away the effect of the oath of allegiance to the Government
of the United States
, and to inform you that in means nothing more than passive obedience to the same.
That officer is surely mistaken.
The oath of allegiance means fealty, pledge of faith to, love, affection, and reference for, the Government
, all comprised in the word patriotism, in its highest and truest sense, which every true American feels for his or her Government.
You say, "I cannot understand how a woman can support, protect, and defend the Union
, except by speaking or writing in favor of the present war, which I could never do, because my sympathies are with the South
The last phrase, madam, shows why you cannot understand "how a woman can support, protect and defend the Union
Were you loyal at heart you would at once understand.
The Southern women who are Rebels understand well "how to support, protect and defend" the Confederacy
, "with out either speaking or writing." Some of them act as spies, some smuggle quinine in their under clothes, some smuggle information through the lines in their dresses, some tend sick soldiers for the Confederacy
, some get up subscriptions for rebel gunboats.
Perhaps it may all be comprised in the phrase, "where there is a will there is away. "
Now, then, you could "support, protect and defend the Union
," by teaching the scholars of your school to love and reverence the Government
, to be proud of their country, to glory in its flag, and to be true to its Constitution.
But, as you don't understand that yourself, you can't teach it to them; and, therefore, I am glad to learn from your letter that your school has been closed since Christmas
, and with my consent, until you change your sentiments and are a loyal woman in heart, it never shall be opened.
I would advise you, madam, forthwith to go where your "sympathies" are. I am only doubtful whether it is my duty to send you.