excuse me for taxing your attention as to Mr. Thomas J. Claggett, as ex-member of the Legislature now a prisoner at Fort Warren.
How is a State prisoner to make his escape? The suspension of the habeas corpus deprives him of all legal remedy. He can have no hearing. Whether innocent or guilty he is a prisoner. We know not when he may have a hearing.
Festus said "it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not withal to signify the charges laid against him. " Mr. Claggett was arrested on the 16th of September, six months ago less a few days. He has seen no charge against him; he has seen no witnesses. He and his friends have made an effort to find out his accusers and the charges against him in vain. I wrote to Governor Hicks, to our senator, Firey, to the honorable Messrs. Calvert and Thomas, members of Congress, to Mr. Reverdy Johnson, U. S. Senator elect, without hearing a syllable against him in the way of charge. Mr. Claggett took the oath of allegiance to the Government which he says in a letter to me dated March 6, 1862, "I have not violated or intended to violate. " I married his sister, and as his connection believe that no charge of treason or complicity with traitors can be sustained against him. If the courts were open he would seek relief through them. We therefore are compelled to trouble you as one of the committee to inquire into the case.
Mr. Claggett is in no sense a politician. He has been accustomed to vote but not to participate actively in politics. he was never associated personally or politically with ex-Governor Lowe. Nicholas Claggett, his progenitor, was bishop of Exeter in the time of George II. His grandfather was first bishop of Maryland, and although ordained at Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who administered to him the oath of allegiance to the British Government, and although he was suspected of disloaylty in our revolutionary struggle yet he was chaplain to our First Congress where he had the respect and confidence of all good men. It is supposed that he was the means of bringing the Reverend Doctor Lyall into the church.
Mr. Claggett has been for many years a vestryman and a Sunday school teacher. He is found of children and agriculture. He is fond of home and rural life. He has no taste for intrigues, no desire for political distinction, no thirst for political power. He is a quiet, peaceable man.
Colonels Meredith and Irwin told me last June that the accused were often better than the accusers; so of General Patterson who commanded the Martinsburg expedition last June. I believe that Mr. Claggett has been falsely accused; that he is innocent of all effort to injure the Government by word or deed; that his arrest is ascribable to misrepresentation.
Will you please let me know what charges have been alleged against Mr. Claggett and let him free? I am satisfied if you investigate his case youw ill find him to be an innocent sufferer from the false hood and misrepresenation which may have emanated from misunderstanding of some of our citizens. There were people in Maryland who would have coerced our State into secession. Mr. Claggett was not one of them.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,