FORT LAFAYETTE, August 31, 1861.
His Excellency A. LINCOLN, President, &c.
SIR: As you are doubtless aware I was arrested and lodged in this fortress on Tuesday last by order of General Scott. This is all I know in regard to the cause of my arrest, being unconscious of having violated any law of the United States. My private correspondence was all seized* and taken from me, including many letters from my friend Mr. Stephens running back through a period of several years. I have never destroyed any of his letters nor have I received any from him since he occupied his present position although I have written to him as usual until since mail facilities with the South have been obstructed. However, never having had any information to convey to him other than that which was conveyed through the newspapers my communicating with my friend needs no explanation.
I have never combined with any man or set of men to overthrow or embarrass the Government, not am I aware of any such combinations in New York or elsewhere in the Northern States. In my right as an American citizen I have dicussed the merits of public men and measures according to my judgment and abilities. As a political exponent of the State rights creed I coult not approve some of the acts of your Administration. I have therefore commented upon them in various ways but in doing this I do not think I have exceeded the legitimate limits of fair and free dicussion. However, even of this I had grown weary and had determined on the day of my arrest to return to Erie County, near Springville, to my family on the farm of Major Blasdell and there rest in quiet. My son, born in Georgia, is there at school. I had no intention at the time referred to of even going South myself. I have been a resident of New York more than twelve years and all my personal interests and affections are here. My political sympathies are with my native State and section. In my breast, therefore, the ntinue during the present civil war, the end of which alone can relieve my embarrassment.
I could not take any employment against the South; it is not proper or practicable for me to take an active part against the North. I would therefore wish to retire to my family, and from that sequestered spot observe the desolating conflict. The state of my health, in addition to all other considerations, constrains me to request that I be permitted to do so. I am afflicted with rheumatism and the dampness and confinement here have greatly aggravated it. With reluctance I utter the complaint. I only would wish to carry out my intention of retirement from all political excitements and discussions in the way and at the place indicated. If allowed I promise in good faith so to do. Whether I can keep my word or not I am willing to leave even my enemies to judge.
S. J. ANDERSON.
*See extracts from this correspondence immediately following this letter.