In not one leading paper deserving patronage and support from the Government have I been represented otherwise than as a traitor. There is scasrcely an act of official perfidy of which a minister could have been guilty that has not been falsely ascribed to me. Before I had evepy of your letter of the 11th of September writers having access to the bureaus of the Government were familiar with its contents and announced the test that was to be applied to me, and they accompanied it with the statement that although I was clearly and unquestionably guilty of treason and could upon the clearest evidence be convicted of it before a jury yet as an act of clemency I would be allowed to escape if I compolied with this requirement of the Secretary of State. I cannot accept your clemency on such terms. I cannot rest under imputations which a submission to your requirements would only fortify and confirm. If I am guilty of any offical infidelity or of treason let me be tried and punished. If I am guilty of any innocent of all such charges I should be unconditionally release. It is not becoming a great Government thus to palter with the interests of human liberty. Neither would it be just to my own character to accept of any such equivocal order of release.
Seventh and lastly. During the period which led to the existing difficulties I was not only absent in Europe but I was there the accredited representative of the Government of the United States, and if a love and veneration for that system of government founded by the fathers of the Republic had been without their proper influence on my conduct my official position at least utterly forbade my having any participation directly or indirectly in any movement for the overthrow of the Federal Union. I have ever made it not less a matter of pride than of duty to punctiliousy and scrupulously [be] faithful to every trust public or private with which I have been honored. Of this you have satisfactory proof in my correspondence and rrelations with your Department, and I have no doubt in the correspondence and testimony of my successor in office. As I have already informed you I returned to the United Stastes under all the moral responsibilities of that trust although the legal tenue of my appointment had previously ceased. I came backuties as a citizen and a patriot. I came here as a free man to survey the field of action and to determine by the light of my own judgment the part which duty and patritism required me tto pursue in the present crisis. No one has ever heard from me in conversation or has ever learned from me by correspondence what that decision would be. Indeed ignorant of much that had transpired in the country during my absence SI felt it due to my own character and position to reserve the decision of myu course until after my return and until I had an opportunity of learning much that it was not possible for me to acquire satisfactory abroad. I arrived here then without a single conmittal as to the future that could swerve my judgment as to my course. I cherished the hope, probably an idle and presumptuous one, that the position of total noncoomplicity with all the events that then embarrassed the country might furnish, especially if I concluded to reside in Virginia, an opportunity of some signal service to the country. My purpose therefore was to retire upon my estate and there await the progress of events to determine what extent this position which absence and accident gave me might me made useful to the country. It is manifest that such a position which I allude to required free and unconstrained action. It is a freeman alone who can confer with freemen about their rights and interests. They would not take counsel from a slave. But you prefer a course that would rob me of all the merit of