War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0725 THE MARYLAND ARRESTS.

Search Civil War Official Records


January 1, 1862.


SIR: On the 3rd of December, 1861, I addressed you a communication to be laid before the senate in regard to the cause of my absence from my seat. I perceive by the newspapers that my letter was transmitted to the State Department of the United States, and having been forwarded to you by Mr. Seward was presented to the senate and referred to the committee on federal relations. I regretted and was surprised to learn from the same sources that the senate had adjourned to its regular session without having acted upon the matter, and indeed without having received any report from the committee.

I deem it now proper to inform the senate that on the day on which the communication last mentioned was mailed by me and after it had been forwarded I was presented by Colonel Dimick, the commandant of this post, with a letter from Mr. Seward instructing him to release me upon my taking what is called "the oath of allegiance" and resigning my seat as a member of the senate of Maryland. I inclose herewith a copy of the Secretary's order* for the information of the honorable body over which you preside. It is hardly necessary to say that I at once declined to accept my release upon the terms prescribed. I refused to take the oath of allegiance for many rea is sufficient to mention the obvious one-that neither the Secretary of State nor any other officer of the Government is authorized to prescribe it to me, and least of all as the condition of my release from an imprisonment in which I am unlawfully and forcibly held in violation of the laws and Constitution of the United States. I refused to consider the proposition to resign my seat as a member of the senate of Maryland because the Secretary of State can have no constitutional, lawful or proper concern of any sort with the composition of that honorable body, or the selection or removal of its members or their conduct as such; and I felt it due not only to myself but to my official position to resist any such interference upon his part through me with the constitutional independence of the State of Maryland and the rights and dignity of its Legislature and people. It is for the senate to determine for itself what notice such action on the part of the Executive Government of the United States may require at its hands.

On the 16th of December, 1861, I addressed to the Secretary of State a communication of which a copy is likewise furnished herewith # in which I asked to be released under temporary parole for the purpose of appearing before the senate or its committee in any investigation which might be had in my case, and for the further purpose of attending to my private affairs which are suffering greatly from my absence. I have received no answer whatever to my letter. I leave it to my fellow senators, many of whom entertain and have officially expressed the same opinions of public policy which have caused my unlawful seizure and confinement, to take such steps in view of the foregoing facts as they may deem due to themselves, the honorable body which they compose and the rights of citizens of Maryland.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



*Not found.

#Omitted here. See Lynch to Seward, p. 718.