[Washington], July 23, 1861.
J. L. MCDOWELL, U. S. Marshal, Kansas:
Your letter of the 11th July, received 19th (under frank of Senator Lane, of Kansas), asks advice whether yous hould give your official services in the execution of the fugitive-slave law.
It is the President's constitutional duty to "take care that eh laws be faithfully executed. " That means all the laws. He has no right to discriminate-no rith to execute the laws he likes and leave unexecuted those he dislikes; and of course you and I, his subordinates, can have now wider latitude of discretion than he has. Missouri is a State in the Union. The insurrectory disorders in Missouri are but individual crimes and do not change the legal status of the State nor change its rights and obligations as a member of the Union.
A refusal by a ministerial officer to execute any law which properly belongs to his office is an official misdemeanor of which I have not a doubt the President would take notice.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Fort Monroe, July 27, 1861.
SIR: * * * I have also the honor to ask instructions as to the disposition to be made of some twenty-five prisoners that I have takne-some in conveying intelligence to the enemy, some in supplying them with provisions and all of whom refuse to take the oath of allegiance or take it with reservation. I have no power to try them; it would be dangerous to allow them to escape and I am guarding and feeding them at Fort Calhoun.
It becomes my duty to report that Colonel Duryea, commanding Fifth New York Regiment, took with him certain negro slaves to Washington. They are reported nine in number. This was done against my express orders and after a portion of them had been detained by my provost-marshal. This is a question of difficulty with departing regiments and one upon which I ask instructions. I will forward to Colonel Baker, as senior officer commanding, the official returns as soon as they reach me.
Awaiting instructions, I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER.
WASHINGTON, August 8, 1861.
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
Commanding Department of Virginia, Fortress Monroe:
GENERAL: The important question of the proper disposition to be made of fugitives from service in States in insurrection against the Federal Government to which you have again directed my attention in your letter of July 30* has received my most attentive consideration.
It is the desire of the President that all existing rights in all the States be fully respected and maintained. The war now prosecuted on the part of the Federal Government is a war for the Union and for