[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
PRIVATE.] FORT LAFAYETTE, July 2, 1865.
Honorable Z. CHANDLER:
DEAR SIR: My application to the President for pardon was forwarded hence on the 21st ultimo, and in appealing to your kind interposition in its behalf, as well upon the ground of old associations as upon others, it is proper that I state to you the points upon which it is based, which I will do as frakly as briefly. I know that you are familiar with all the leading political issues of the former "South," and with the divisions and phases of opinion and sentiment upon that of secession. Throughout my own humble career as a private or public man, up to the secession of my own State, I was ever devoted to the Union, and my ten years' service in the Senate are unmarked by a word or sentiment inconsistent with this declaration. I was never in the Legislature or any of the conventions of my State, and I never counseled her to secede, for I always believed she was stronger in the Union than she could be out of it. But when she seceded and instructed me to withdraw from the Senate I obeyed. She had honored me far beyond my merits with many distinguished marks of her confidence and favor, and I followed where she led. State sovereignty with its consequent rights of secession was no new doctrine, suddenly sprung for a purpose, but through a long line of great minds, from Jefferson to Calhoun, it had become the universal faith of the South. In this faith, politically, was I reared, but, though I regarded secession as a right resulting, like many others, from State sovereignty, my conservatism taught me that as a remedy it was but another name for revolution, to be justified only by those great and otherwise irreparable wrongs which admittedly justify revolution. I never believed there would be bloodshed, and I hoped and expected compromise, conciliation, and peace even after the secession of South Carolina. When I learned at Washington the design of attacking Fort Pickens, at Pensacola, I dreaded the consequences, and telegraphed the leader in the most urgent terms against the design, and thus prevented it, a proceeding for which superserviceable patriots have bitterly denounced me. The firing upon the flag soon after at Charleston rendered peace hopeless. Throughout my official connection with the Confederate Government as Secretary of the Navy, which post was accepted only upon the repeated requests of President Davis, and the resignation of which I subsequently tendered, I am conscious of no act unwarranted by the condition of the two Governments and the laws of war to which they both deferred. Upon the fall of Richmond I resigned me office, repaired to my home, and there awaited the action of the Government, determined to abide the consequences of my course, whatever they might be. I was arrested there some two months ago and sent here. A great majority of the State and a vast majority of the people have decided, as well by the cartridge-box as by the ballot box, against secession and slavery. Ballots and bullets, overwhelming numbers and resources, were all against us, and we are a conquered people. I frankly and fully recognize and accept the continued union of all these States and the abolition of slavery as the new status of the South, and the logic of partiotism, no less than that of common sense, calls upon her people to conform themselves, their laws, and institutions to this status. To this work I am anxious to contribute all the aid in my power, for with the South must I live, and with Heaven's sanction die.
47 R R-SERIES II, VOL VIII.