SMITHTOWN, LONG ISLAND, September 9, 1861
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
DEAR SIR: I have been earnestly requested by a large number of the friends of Mr. Henry A. Reeves of Greenport, Long Island, now a prisoner at Fort Lafayette, to inquire into the causes of his arrest and to use my influence for his release. I have known Mr. Reeves for a long time and have always esteemed him as a gentleman of worth and integrity. The course he has pursued during the present disastrous condition of the country has not met with my approbation, but I have still deemed him loyal though I think his views erroneous and untenable. He has a mother and sister entirely dependent upon his exertions for support. May I not ask his release upon the condition that his future course will be more in accordance with the sentiment so loyally and almost universally expressed by the masses of the North, to which I think he ought unhesitatingly to subscribe?
Should you deem that a compliance with the above request would not be prejudicial to the public interest you would receive the grateful thanks of his family and friends and much oblige, yours, respectfully,
EDWD. HENRY SMITH,
Member of Congress, First District of New York.
P. S. - I am also requested to ask permission to visit Mr. Reeves for the purpose of consulting with him upon his affairs, which visit (if granted) must of course be subject to any conditions the Government may see fit to impose. An early answer is respectfully requested.
E. H. S.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, September 13, 1861.
Honorable EDWARD HENRY SMITH, Smithtown, N. Y.
SIR: Your letter of September 9 has been received. Mr. Reeves has the opportunity to submit anything to the Government here that he desires through the hands of Colonel Burke. Any communication that he might desire to make would receive due consideration; but it is not visits to the prisoners at Fort Lafayette except in compliance with wishes expressed by themselves. I should be happy to accede to your wishes if it were compatible with regulations which have been made out of regard to the public safety and welfare.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
FORT LAFAYETTE, Saturday, September 21, 1861.
S. WELLS PHILLIPS, Watchman Office, Greenport, Long Island.
DEAR FRIEND: Your favor of the 17th was received this morning and its contents noted with the attention its importance demands. I have addressed a letter to the Secretary of State to-day of which I inclose a copy. As to my giving proof of loyalty, taking an oath, &c., while utterly denying that I have done anything to warrant even a colorable pretense of necessity for any such test, and while as utterly repelling the imputation that arises from the very attempt to impose it, I am yet willing to accept any conditions necessary to effect my release from this prison which are compatible with my own honor and self-