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Doc. 215.-election in Maryland.

Letter from Governor Bradford.

Executive office, Annapolis, October 31, 1863.
To His Excellency, President Lincoln:
sir: Rumors are to-day current, and they reach me in such a shape that I am bound to believe them, that detachments of soldiers are to be despatched on Monday next to several of the counties of the State, with a view of being present at their polls on Wednesday next, the day of our State election. These troops are not residents of the State, and consequently are not sent for the purpose of voting, and as there is no reason, in my opinion, to apprehend any riotous or violent proceedings at this election, the inference is unavoidable that these military detachments, if sent, are expected to exert some control or influence in that election. I am also informed that orders are to be issued from this Military Department, on Monday, presenting certain restrictions or qualifications on the right of suffrage — of what precise character I am not apprised — which the Judges of Election will be expected to observe. From my knowledge of your sentiments on these subjects, as expressed to Hon. R. Johnson, in my presence, on the twenty-second instant, as also disclosed in your letter of instruction to General Schofield, since published, in reference to the Missouri election, I cannot but think that the orders above referred to are without your personal knowledge; and I take the liberty of calling the subject to your attention, and invoking your interposition to countermand them. I cannot but feel that to suffer any military interference in the matter of our election, or to prescribe any test of oath to voters when all the candidates in the State--with the exception, perhaps, of two or three in one Congressional District, are all loyal men — would be justly obnoxious to the public sentiment of the State. There are other reasons why such proceedings would appear as an offensive discrimination against our State. Our citizens are aware that highly important elections have recently taken place in other States, without, as it is believed, any such interference by the Goverment authorities; and if votes by hundreds of thousands have been allowed to be cast there without objection, and with no limit upon the elective franchise other than the State laws prescribe, and where one, at least, of the candidates so supported was considered so hostile to the Government that for months past he has been banished from the country, certainly any such interference as between the loyal men now candidates in this State would, under such comparisons, be more justly objectionable, and finds nothing in the present condition of things here to justify it. I rely therefore upon your Excellency for such an order as will prevent it.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your

Excellency's obedient servant,

Reply of President Lincooln.

war Department, Washington, November 2, 1863.
To His Excellency A. W. Bradford, Governor of Maryland:
sir: Yours of the thirty-first ultimo was received yesterday, about noon, and since then I have been giving most earnest attention to the subject matter of it. At my call General Schenck has attended, and he assures me that it is almost certain that violence will be used at some of the voting-places on election day, unless prevented by his provost-guards. He says that at some of those places the Union voters will not attend at all, or run a ticket, unless they have some assurance of protection. This makes the Missouri case of my action, in regard to which you express your approval.

The remaining point of your letter is a protest against any person offering to vote being put to any test not found in the laws of Maryland. This brings us to a difference between Missouri and Maryland, with the same reason in both States. Missouri has, by law, provided a test for the voter with reference to the present rebellion, while Maryland has not. For example, General Trimble, captured fighting us at Gettys-burgh, is, without recanting his treason, a legal voter by the laws of Maryland. Even General Schenck's order admits him to vote, if he recants upon oath. I think that is cheap enough. My order in Missouri, which you approve, and General Schenck's order here, reach precisely the same end. Each assures the right of voting to all loyal men, and whether a man is loyal each allows that man to fix by his own oath. Your suggestion that nearly all the candidates are loyal I do not think quite meets the case. In this struggle for the nation's life, I cannot so confidently rely on those whose election may have depended upon disloyal votes. Such men, when elected, may prove true, but such votes are given them in the expectation that they will prove false. Nor do I think that to keep the [603] peace at the polls, and to prevent the persistently disloyal from voting, constitutes just cause of offence to Maryland. I think she has her own example for it. If I mistake not, it is precisely what General Dix did when your Excellency was elected Governor. I revoke the first of the three propositions in General Schenck's General Order No. 53, not that it is wrong in principle, but because the military being, of necessity, exclusive judges as to who shall be arrested, the provision is liable to abuse. For the revoked part I substitute the following:

That all provost-marshals and other military officers do prevent all disturbance and violence at or about the polls, whether offered by such persons as above described, or by any other person or persons whatsoever.

The other two propositions of the order I allow to stand. General Schenck is fully determined, and has my strict order besides, that all loyal men may vote, and vote for whom they please.

Your obedient servant,

A. Lincoln, President of the United States.

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