Letter from Hon. John A. Logan.
SPRINGFIELD, June 18, 1861.
Mr. EDITOR: I notice in your paper of the 17th instant, the following clipping from the Cairo correspondence of the New York Herald:
"It seems that, after the fact of Mr. Lincoln's election became known in Egypt, a plan was brought forward and openly advocated by the leading democratic politicians, to separate southern Illinois from the remainder of the state, and to attach the seceding districts to Missouri or Kentucky, or to set up a separate state government, to be a confederate with the other slaveholding states. This plan was the inception of such men as John A. Logan, member of congress from that (the ninth Illinois) district; Captain John M. Cunningham, (his father-in-law,) W. J. Allen, M. C. Campbell, (a brother-in-law of Logan,) Dr. Israel Blanchard and Hybert Cunningham, esq., also brothers-in-law of Logan. The Jonesboro Gazette and Marion Intelligencer, advocated the movement, and the St. Louis Republican lent it its aid."
You have stigmatized the imputation in the above as an "infamous lie," so far as the Republican is concerned. It must be branded as a lie also so far as I am concerned, and those whose names are associated with mine. The charge is explicit, definite and positive, that the "leading democratic politicians" of Egypt, after Mr. Lincoln's election was known, "brought forward and openly advocated" a "plan" to effect the separation of southern Illinois from the remainder of the state and attach it to the southern confederacy, either as an independent state or as a portion of Missouri or Kentucky. This is the accusation, and the paternity of the scheme thus set forth in the Herald, is ascribed to me and certain confederates named. There is no mistaking the charge. I do not intend that the concoctor of it shall labor under any mistake as to my answer. There is not an iota or a shred or a particle of truth in the charge to save it from being stamped as a base libel and unmitigated falsehood. It is all false, and wickedly calumnious. I do not know whether this wretched story is the "inception" of the correspondent of the Herald, or whether he, by virtue of his office as a "snapper up" of every unconsidered rumor he might hear of, accepted this one from the originator of it, or found it in some lying circle with which he consorted. But whoever is the author of it, and whoever endorses and gives it currency, I am constrained to pronounce very knavish liars, though not bold and courageous ones, for they are careful to conceal themselves under the guise of anonymous correspondents, or to give currency to their falsehoods in a manner to save themselves from responsibility. I believe it is generally understood that such liars are cowards too. As to the "plan" spoken of, or any kindred plan, it is all news to me. If any "leading" democrat, or any other democrat in Illinois, ever openly or secretly advocated such a plan, or seriously or otherwise entertained it, or meditated its practical adoption, I never heard or knew of it, or was in anywise a party to their plans. When I was in Washington last winter, I noticed a paragraph or two in some papers of southern Illinois suggesting that Egypt would secede. But the impossibility and absurdity of such secession were so palpable that I viewed the suggestion as a broad burlesque upon the illegitimate and unconstitutional action of the south in this matter of secession, and I gave the subject no second thought, knowing that however it might become true that the Union could be and would be dissolved, the unity of Illinois never could be disturbed. My political enemies will have to invent some more plausible falsehood than this, of my having been guilty of the insanity of originating or abetting the alleged scheme of disturbing the internal relations of the state of Illinois. It will be believed only by old women and imbeciles, and will be charged only by those who have no scruples about bearing false witness against their neighbor.
The writer for the Herald seeks to give some dignity and body to this charge of conspiracy against the state, by associating with my name those of others, well known in southern Illinois, and to give some color of probability to this take, he apprises the public that those named are my immediate kindred, implying that we are a sort of nest of traitors — conspirators by family affinity — with treason bred in the blood.
To this charge of confederating with the parties named, or any other parties, for the accomplishment of the alleged design. I must return the answer already given — it is a very poor, incredible lie. I never confederated with them, nor they with me, for any such purpose. Neither I, nor one of them, to the best of my knowledge and belief, ever, by word or deed, planned or designed any such impossible scheme. It is all a fiction, without foundation, either in fact or probability.
It is, perhaps, proper, in this response, that I should travel beyond the mere letter of the charge against me, and add that I have never favored or advocated the secession of any state, or any portion of a state, either in congress or out of it. In no speech er letter of mine have I ever countenanced disunion as a remedy for any real or supposed grievances, or as in any sense reconcilable with the theory of our government and the letter and spirit of our constitution. I have not only not countenanced it, but I have both in speeches and letters entered my protest against it, and by every legitimate form of opposition set my face against it. I am willing now, or at any time, to compare me record, in and out of congress, with that of any gentleman, on the question of the Union. I shall not suffer by the comparison. And in this connection I may remark that it is a little singular that those who make the broad charge against me that I am a secessionist, furnish no proof of the charge — they quote no paragraph of a speech made by me — no sentence from a letter — no remark in a conversation — no act performed. It is all maked, unsupported assertion, made by no responsible person, and the public is asked to accept it as true. Perhaps those who make such charges do it on the principle avowed by the "scurvy fellow," and "jack-leg lawyer" of this city, who, in his capacity of paid calumniator for the Democrat, recently assailed one of the purest and most upright judges in the state as being open to the suspicion of treason. When smarting under the chastisement of the Register for his reckless detraction of so good and loyal a man as Judge Treat, this paid libeller and "scurvy fellow," as the Register calls him, responds in substance: "I charged Judge Treat with treason, so that if it was not true, his friends might have an opportunity to come out and deny it!"
Possibly it is upon this criminal principle that I have been assailed as a secessionist. There can be no doubt, however, concerning the execrable morality of thus requiring men to defend themselves against the unsupported charges of hired scriblers for the press, and to prove their innocence before they are proved to be guilty.
It is appropriate that I should mention here that, since returning from Washington last March, I have made three or four speeches while attending the courts in the ninth congressional district. In those speeches I very candidly deprecated the causes of our present troubles, and pointed to what appeared to me to be the concerted action between the abolitionists of the north and the secessionists of the south, to effect a dissolution of the Union. I said without disguise, as I say now, that the impertinent and intermeddling spirit of the anti-slavery party of the north was mainly chargeable for the state of feeling in the south which prompted the unconstitutional and revolutionary action of the states now constituting the Southern Confederacy. I did also express the opinion, which I still entertain, that a proper spirit of compromise, manifested by the republican party, or its leaders, in January and February last, would have been adequate to an adjustment of our national troubles without a resort to the arbitrament of the sword.
But while undisguised in the expression of opinion upon the policy of the administration, there was in no utterance of mine, an expression of disloyalty to the government, nor a sentiment that, save by lying perversion, could be made to mean secession in any of the shapes under which it might have succeeded or have been advocated in any of the seceding states or elsewhere.
Among my hearers were republicans, of whom some have been busy in circulating rumors intended to operate to my prejudice and to cloud my loyalty with suspicion What ulterior sinister purpose they may have entertained in regard to me, or what they would do if they possessed the courage and the power, I leave for others to judge. I am free to say, however, that I did not seek to conciliate the good will of a class of republicans whose pretended patriotism is bounded by their selfish party considerations. To win the praise of such I did not feel bound to depart from truth so far as to declare that Mr. Lincoln and his administration, so far, had proved a "brilliant success."
Because of this I have been traduced and maligned by nameless foes, and every little "pen...[missing lines]
Quite triumphantly some persons have directed my attention to the resolutions passed by some obscure and unknown "home guard" in Jackson county, as furnishing a sort of proof of my known want of loyalty. I have noticed those resolutions, and the request in one of them that I should resign my seat in congress, and their protestation that I should never have their vote for any officer. Permit me to inquire, who or what is this "home guard?" Is it made up of men or women? boys or girls? Is it a reality? or a myth? No names appear. Ambitious as most military gentlemen are upon whom epaulettes and spurs are conferred, to have it known, no captain, lieutenant, sergeant or corporal appends his name to the resolutions of said "home guards," or has courage enough to assume the responsibility of their passage and their publication. I may inquire, too, how many composed that reported meeting of protestors against my course, and whether in menacing me with a withdrawal of their support, they mean to imply that they ever supported me with their votes or sustained me by their influence? What do I owe them? What obligations am I under to them, such that they are warranted in soliciting me to tender my resignation of the office to which I was elected by an overwhelming majority of the voters of the ninth congressional district, who still heartily endorse my course, and have afforded me numerous evidences of their approbation? Are they men who would be put forward by my constituents to represent their views, or would they be suffered for an instant to dictate any policy which that district should sustain? Let them speak out and give their names, that the public may know who and what they are. I venture to predict that they will do no such thing, for the simple reason that neither in number or character are they sufficiently respectable to warrant their assumption of the lofty tone they have adopted.
In reference to the ninth congressional district, which has been visited with the reproaches and slanders of pretended patriots in various sections of the state, I may be allowed to say, that the citizens there are as loyal as those of any other district or state in the republic. They have always been, and are still, as well entitled to the name of Union men, as others elsewhere who have imputed to them disloyalty; making a noisy parade of their own devotion to the Union, without, however, proving their devotion by enlisting for the war, or rendering any substantial service to their country. The people of the 9th district have in times past manifested in a practical way their devotion to the Union, and have upheld its flag in scenes of danger and death. They are for the government now, and watchful for its triumph over the designs of foreign foes and for the extinguishment of rebellion at home. The fact that a few misguided boys in the district, without the knowledge of their immediate friends, or of others who might have had the influence over them, saw fit a few days since, in the face of every consideration of loyalty and of prudence, to cast in their lot with the fortunes of the Confederate States, furnishes no sufficient ground for imputing, indiscriminately, disloyalty to the district, or any county therein. Bravo and self-sacrificing volunteers there, by the thousand, have responded to the call of their country, who on the battle field will prove themselves in this unhappy war as steady and brave as those who have gone forth from any section or country in the Union. Go into the ranks of the regiments of southern Illinois, and find there thousands of the democratic voters of Egypt, and the sons of democrats, who cast party considerations aside, and wished only to know whether their beloved country needed them, and the best answer will be given to the slanders of those who sit quietly at their desks and pen lying paragraphs about those whose patriotism is more effectually proved than their own. And when those regiments need recruits, there are hundreds of the sturdy democracy of the ninth district standing ready to supply the need.
So far as I myself am concerned, while avowing here and everywhere my devotion to the Union and the government, and my unqualified condemnation of those who are responsible for the rupture of the ties which have bound the states together so happily and prosperously, I am bound to say that no attacks of party presses will lead me to swerve from any line of policy which, according to my best judgment, will conduct to the best interest of the republic, and rescue the country at the earliest possible period from the sea of troubles in which it is now engulfed. Newspaper assaults upon me are not a new thing. They commenced when I was but a boy, in 1853, and have been well sustained every year since, and have lost none of their vigor now. But the public is fast learning that the fact that a statement is made in a newspaper, is very slender evidence of its truth, when that statement is made by an editor or scribbler whose vision is obfuscated by party prejudice and malevolence.
In connection with the unsupported accusation that I have acted in concert with rebels, and have winked at the organization of enterprises designed to furnish aid and comfort to the southern rebellion, all of which is known to be an infamous falsehood by whomsoever it was originated, it has been reported by some unblushing fabricator of lies, up and down the line of the Illinois Central Railroad, that Gen. Prentiss said to me at Cairo, in a menacing manner, that I had "but one step further to take to commit actual treason," and this has been quoted as something like evidence against me. I am not certain that I know the author of this story. But I think I do, and if this letter meets his eye let him read that I pronounce him a liar, with the double nature of coward and villian. I never had but one conversation with Gen. Prentiss, and that was in the presence of several gentlemen at the headquarters at Cairo. In that interview there was nothing said on either side that was not perfectly kind and courteous. The bearing of Gen. Prentiss toward myself and others present was that of friendly civility, not one word being uttered by him that brought into question his character as a gentleman, or was calculated to wound me or excite in me a sensation of displeasure. The entire story is a miserable fabrication by its lying author.
I do not deem it necessary to prolong this letter to any greater length. My object is accomplished in having characterized in fitting terms though not in soft ones, the reported slanderous imputations of newspaper scribblers and other persons, upon my loyalty to the government of the United States.
JOHN A. LOGAN.