War of the Rebellion: Serial 102 Page 0131 Chapter LIX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

tions of proper civil officers for assistance as a posse to enforce the civil law; to allow the State authorities to originate every measure necessary in their judgment for security of life and property and for the punishment of criminals, keeping the military in such matters in the subordinate position which conforms to law and the practice in times past.

It is next to certain that a State government thus left to itself would do many things objectionable to the military authorities and inaugurate some measures which might seriously interfere with or jeopardize the success of military operations; but it is far better, in view of the future, for the military commander to counteract the effect of such measures by additional precautions and for the Government to employ some thousands of additional soldiers to secure military operations against such a danger than by arbitrary to overrule or set aside the action of the civil authorities. The confidence of the people in the supremacy of their State government is essential to its successful administration.

One arbitrary act or order of a military commander might, and probably would, destroy the confidence that months of careful management had succeeded in producing. Once destroyed or impaired, this requisite state of feeling could not be secured again for a long time, if, indeed, it ever could be whilst the military remained in the State.

If, therefore, such policy be once inaugurated, it must be pursued constantly and unswervingly, and the military forces should never be directed or permitted by orders from their immediate commanders, or from any source whatever, to commit any act disrespectful to or subversive of the proper authority of the State government.

It seems to me that by some judicious and consistent management the States in the Mississippi Valley can be certainly, though perhaps slowly, re-established in the Union. Persistence in the present system of military rule is every day more and more unfitting the people for self-government and rendering them less and less disposed to resume the performance of their civil duties. The condition of the public mind in Missouri is the best warning on this subject which can be given. No time should be lost in Arkansas, lest by too long delay we find that when we are ready the people of that State are no longer capable of profiting by our efforts. Almost any policy is better than the arbitrary and unstable system which has been hitherto pursued. The danger of failure lies not so much in defects of the policy itself as in the manner of carrying it out.

I submit these views to Your Excellency with some hesitation, and perhaps should have not done so at all that the condition of affairs in Arkansas demands immediate attention, and duty requires me to furnish to the Government my official opinions as to the proper remedy.

I have not undertaken to express an opinion as to the proper method of regulating the qualifications of voters in Arkansas. It may be laid down as a fixed rule that no man not truly loyal should be permitted to vote, and that an oath allegiance is no sufficient proof of loyalty. The events of this war have conclusively show that oaths of allegiance are of little use in determining any man's loyalty.

I am not prepared to offer an opinion as to whether the General or State government can best regulate and supervise the necessary measures to restrict the right of suffrage to proper persons.

In the absence of an effectual provision in the State constitution, it is probable that with some general law or regulation of the General Government on the subject the loyal State legislature-who know or