Case of Gwin, Benham and Brent.
William M. Gwin sailed from San Francisco for New York by way of Panama on the 21st of October, 1861, on the steamer Orizaba, of which the Department of State had notice by the Overland Mail with the assurance that he (Gwin) was a rank traitor and that his desstination was South. On the same steamer was General Sumner, of the U. S. Amy, with a small detachment of troops, and before the arrial of the ship at Panama General Sumner placed Gwin under arrst but subsequently accepted his parole to remain at the New York Hotel after arrivalat that port subject to the orders of the Secretary of State.
After his arrival at New York on or about the 15th of November, 1861, he was arrested by the superintendent of police by direction of the Departmen of State, and on the 18th of the same month by like direction he was placed in confinement at Fort Lafayette. Gwin was known to be a sympathizer with the rebels and was believed to entertain the purpose of joining them in the insurrectionary States. His arrest therefore was deemed a necessary measure of precaution. A letter written by him and addressed to mr. Calhoun Benham, dated February 8, 1861, was found in possession of the latter containing this passage:
The cotton States are out forever. The border States will follow; it is only a queston of time. If no collision takes place reconstruction is barely possible. The chances are there will be two republics, North and south, with amicable relations. Time will probably turn it into three.
On the 2nd day of December, 1861, Gwin was released from confinement on his parole not to do any act hostile or injurious to the Union.
Calhoun Benham was attorney of the United States for the district of California and left San Francisco on the 21st of October, 1861, for New York by way of Panama, of which the Department had notice. Doctor Gwin, late Senator from California, and Mr. J. L. Brent were in companyu with Mr. Benham, and all of them were arrested by General Sumner befor earriving at New York. On arrivingse parties were allowed their freedom in the city by Genereal Sumner on giving their parole not to leave the city. On or about the 15th of November, 1861, by order of the Secretary of State, Benham was taken in cusstody by the superintendent of police of New York and detained until the 18th of said month when by the further order of the Secretary of State he was taken to Fort Lafayette and there placed in confinement. The action in restraint of this person's liberty was taken on information that he was disloyal and was on his way to the insurrectionary States with the purpose of entering into their service or othervits of three persons that on the 4th day of Novembner in the Bay of Panama on board the steamer Orizaba, Benham threw oveerboard a quantity of papers and some books. The nature or contents thereof are not known. On the 2nd day of December, 1861, Benham was released from confinement (on his parole with satisfactory stipulations against further misconduct) by order of the Secretary of State.
J. L. Brent sailed from San Francisco for New York via Panama October 21, 1861, on the steamer Orizaba, of which the Departmetn of State had notice by Overland Mail, with the assurance that he was a traitor and that his destination was South. On the same steamer was General Sumner, of the U. S. Army, with a small detachmeent of troops,
64 R R-SERIES II, VOL II