War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0621 SUSPECTED AND DISLOYAL PERSONS.

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to the oath* of allegiance in the form herewith transmitted. The discharge should also, however, be accompanied by a proper admonition to the prisoner.

I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

FORT HAMILTON, New York Harbor, September 8, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State of the United States, Washington City.

SIR: Ellis B. Schnabel is still a prisoner, he having refused or declined to take the oath of allegiance forwarded to me from your Department on the 5th instant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

MARTIN BURKE,

Lieutenant-Colonel, U. S. Army, Commanding.

FORT HAMILTON, New York Harbor, September 10, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State of the United States.

SIR: I herewith inclose a letter from one of the prisoners. I do not feel myself at liberty to withhold it although it not being in my opinion respectful.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

MARTIN BURKE,

Lieutenant-Colonel, U. S. Army, Commanding.

[Inclosure.]

FORT LAFAYETTE, N. Y., September 8, 1861.

Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: The officer in command of this fort where I am detained as a prisoner at your instance has tendered me an oath as a condition of my release, the phraseology of which is so extraordinary that in my humble opinion no true lover of freedom, no honest supporter of the Constitution and laws can take without incurring the risk of being compelled either to violate his oath or become an auxiliary in the sacrifice of the Constitution in case the Government should adopt measures involving an infraction of that instrument. I can not and will not take an oath which may under certain contingencies oblige me to support a party or sectional organization. I will follow the lead of the Constitution and laws-nothing more, nothing less. Nor will I voluntarily part with my rights (as required by the terms of your oath) to express my opinion on all measures adopted by the Administration for the suppression of the existing war. There is wisdom in a multiplicity of counsel. Besides I will be immaculate. The concluding part of this oath requires me to surrender my constitutional rights. Sir, I will surrender them only with my life. My ancestors shed their blood on the fields of the Revolution to secure the rights for me. I will maintain and transmit them if possible by a like sacrifice.

I am not an advocate for the atrocious doctrine that "amidst arms laws are silent," although I will consent to take an oath to the follow-

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*Not found, but see Schnabel to Seward, p. 623.

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