posed has never been by any legal authority as you are aware directed or authorized to be administered to the citizens as such, but prescribed only and exclusively to a certain class of emplyes of the Government. This oath then when proposed to me is entirely extrajudicial and subjects me to a test to which other citizens are exempt and in my conscientious view of the matter can only tend to degrade and humiliate me in the estimation of myself and others whose good opinion I value and esteem.
If the oath were prescribed by any law of the land to the citizens generally or any occasion offered when it was lawful to administer it I should not hesitate about it or in the least object to it, but the objection now is that it was not intended to apply to me or to any other private citizen, and in submitting to its illegal administration I should humiliate myself and forfeit the good opinion of mankind. This feeling though it may not be predicated upon the same reasoning that you would suggest yet bring sincerely and conscientiously entertained I hope will be appreciated. I have deemd it proper that I should thus state the reason for declining the terms of the tendered release. If conditions be exacted of me I am willing to give any proper parole such as to commit no act hostile to the Government and not to go into the seceded States or communicate with persons therein. This I feel justified in offering because of the great necessity for my being out of prison to attend to the wants of my family and the requirements of my business. I must therefore again request that you will order my release without the condition of taking the oath.
I am, your obedient servant,
R. H. ALVEY.
WASHINGTON, December 27, 1861.
F. W. SEWARD, Esq., Assistant Secretary of State.
MY DEAR SIR: It seems that Alvey has felt obliged to reject the liberty offeredt to him because of the oath required. It is very silly of him I think, and proceeds entirely from the sensitiveness which he has for the ridicule attached to it by still more silly people. I do not see the difference between that which I herewith inclose* and that proposed by the Department and yet has is willing to take this and not that. I would be glad if the Secretary would indulge him in his preference and let him return to his family which really needs his attention.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 31, 1861.
Honorable MONTGOMERY BLAIR, Postmaster-General.
SIR: Your letter of the 27th instant with its inclosure has been received. Colonel Dimick has been directed to release R. H. Alvey, a prisoner confined in Fort Warren, on his taking the oath in the form inclosed by you.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
* Omitted here. See p. 354 for oath finally taken by Alvey.
23 R R-SE II, VOL II