This communication has been submitted to the President, and I am directed by him to say in reply that he avows the proceding of Mr. Cameron referred to as one taken by him when Secretary of War under the President's directions and deemed necessary for the prompt suppression of the existing insurrection.
The President will at once communicate this correspondence to the Attorney-General of the United States and also to Congress.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, April 18, 1862.
Honorable EDWARD BATES, Attorney-General.
SIR: I transmit for your information a copy of a correspondence between this Department and Benjamin H. Brewster, of Philadelphia, relative to the arrest of Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, at the suit of Piece Butler.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE, May 5, 1862.
GEORGE A. COFFEY, Esq.,
U. S. District Attorney, Philadelphia.
SIR: Of course you have unofficial information of an action brought in the supreme court of Pennsylvania for the eastern district by Pierce Butler v. Simon Cameron, "in a plea of trespass, vi et armis, assault and battery and false imprisonment. The copy of the writ sent to me does not disclose the fact that action is founded upon any official act of the ex-Secretary of War; but it is well understood here that the action arises out of the arrest of Mr. Butler upon political grounds and his supposed complicity in the existing rebellion. Upon this supposition the President adopts the act of the Secretary of War in restraining Mr. Butler temporarily from his liberty, and desires that the suit shall be fully defended as a matter which deeply concerns the public welfare as well as the safety of the individual officers of the Government.
Mr. Cameron has retained private counsel for his defense, Mr. Benjamin H. Brewster, 706 Walnut street, Philadelphia. Mr. Brewster's letter to Mr. Seward is before me wherein he says:
I have as his (Cameron's) private counsel ordered my appearance for him, while I also invite and request the intervention of the proper authorities in his behalf and for his protection.
By authority of the President therefore I request that you will give attention to the case and render whatever aid the full defense of the action may in your good judgment require. There are other actions pending of a somewhat similar character - especially one against Secretary Welles in this District - and no doubt they will greatly multiply unless met vigorously and carefully in limine. Of course Mr. Brewster will see that there is no judgment by default, but to bar accidents please see to it. There is a bill pending in Congress which if passed will facilitate defenses in such cases.
With great respect, your obedient servant,