more followed every year to join us in our trials, in our labors, and they were no trifles. I bought land and improved it (not for speculation); I built a college strictly for the poor, who have talent but little money or none at all to pay for their own education; took charge and care for orphans; gave shelter to the poor traveler (hundreds of them); established a female branch of our order for the same purpose in several places, from New York to Saint Could, in Minnesota, and Atchison, in Kansas, and from Chicago to Texas. I have collected not one cent from anybody in this country for these establishments, but I got every year $3,000 from Bavaria and some years $4,000 and $5,000 and $6,000 (from the ex-King of Bavaria, King Louis, alone more than $15,000). All this money and all that I could earn through the hard labor of my good confreres I have spent in this county for the benefit of this country, more so than I ought to have, for I run even in heavy debts. All my confreres who came over from Germany have done the same; have deposited their fortunes into our common stock, little or much as it was, unsuspecting, of course, that we ever could be disturbed in our peaceable and charitable pursuits, the least of all that we ever could be drafted into military service, such a thing being unheard of in the annals of Christian nations; and now the law says, Shoulder arms or pay; and I having spent all my own, all our common money, for the benefit of this country, I must now blushingly confess I cannot pay, I have no money, and the law then answers: Shoulder arms! Is there such law in this country?
Do we not deserve any regard on account of our money spent, through we have at present none to spare to pay the exemption? I do not like to boast or to glory, sir; I am ashamed that I am compelled to do it. I cannot be drafted, I am too old for that; but I must speak for those of my confreres who may be drafted.
Fourth. The question of conscience I will not touch. Suffice it to say that we cannot go in war unless we act in a grievous mater against our conscience.
These reasons I trust will justify this may humble petition for a new confirmation of the former grant or to obtain a new one for the impending draft. I have the English language too little in my power but that I could express myself so politely as I wished I could, and I must in this regard beg for your kind indulgence. But I ask your permission to suggest an idea that might be to the purpose. In the German States conscription is a regular thing every year, and no able-bodied young man is exempt from draft unless he buys a substitute. However, with regard to students of law, of medicine, and particularly of Divinity, exemptions are admitted in this way: These students are enrolled and drafted like other men of their age, but in order not [to] interrupt their studies, they are indeed kept on the list, but obtain furlough for an indefinite time. Thus the law is complied with the these young men are not advocated from their scientific employments. If there is no other loyal way to grant exemption for the members of the Benediction order, I should think this way would not be objectionable.
But your kind sentiments and your experience in law and life will easily find means and ways in justice or in equity to put us out of trouble and conflict with our conscience. May God bless you for it. I remain, sincerely Your Excellency's most faithful and obedient servant,
Abbot of Saint Vincent, Westmoreland County, Pa.