The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6 by Abraham Lincoln
To General S. L Curtis. January 5, 1863.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
MY DEAR SIR:--I am having a good deal of trouble with Missouri matters, and I now sit down to write you particularly about it. One class of friends believe in greater severity and another in greater leniency in regard to arrests, banishments, and assessments. As usual in such cases, each questions the other's motives. On the one hand, it is insisted that Governor Gamble's unionism, at most, is not better than a secondary spring of action; that hunkerism and a wish for political influence stand before Unionism with him. On the other hand, it is urged that arrests, banishments, and assessments are made more for private malice, revenge, and pecuniary interest than for the public good. This morning I was told, by a gentleman who I have no doubt believes what he says, that in one case of assessments for $10,000 the different persons who paid compared receipts, and found they had paid $30,000. If this be true, the inference is that the collecting agents pocketed the odd $20,000. And true or not in the instance, nothing but the sternest necessity can justify the making and maintaining of a system so liable to such abuses. Doubtless the necessity for the making of the system in Missouri did exist, and whether it continues for the maintenance of it is now a practical and very important question. Some days ago Governor Gamble telegraphed me, asking that the assessments outside of St. Louis County might be suspended, as they already have been within it, and this morning all the members of Congress here from Missouri but one laid a paper before me asking the same thing. Now, my belief is that Governor Gamble is an honest and true man, not less so than yourself; that you and he could confer together on this and other Missouri questions with great advantage to the public; that each knows something which the other does not; and that acting together you could about double your stock of pertinent information. May I not hope that you and he will attempt this? I could at once safely do (or you could safely do without me) whatever you and he agree upon. There is absolutely no reason why you should not agree.
Yours as ever,
P. S.--I forgot to say that Hon. James S. Rollins, member of Congress from one of the Missouri districts, wishes that, upon his personal responsibility, Rev. John M. Robinson, of Columbia, Missouri; James L. Matthews, of Boone County, Missouri; and James L. Stephens, also of Boone County, Missouri, may be allowed to return to their respective homes. Major Rollins leaves with me very strong papers from the neighbors of these men, whom he says he knows to be true men. He also says he has many constituents who he thinks are rightly exiled, but that he thinks these three should be allowed to return. Please look into the case, and oblige Major Rollins if you consistently can.