Lincoln Signed For Man Who Wants to "support the Constitution ... put down this wicked & uncalled for rebellion...face the enemy, now in our hour of danger"

In this brief endorsement to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln requests information about why a commission for Samuel S. Smoot was being withheld. This letter was the first of a series of interactions Smoot had with the federal government, trying to prove his loyalty. He had the misfortune to have the same surname as some supporters of the Confederacy in Washington, D.C., which may have led to a case of mistaken identity. He was later arrested and imprisoned for "willful neglect of duty" as a government contractor.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Endorsement Signed, to Edwin M. Stanton, September 19, 1862, Washington, D.C., on Samuel S. Smoot to Abraham Lincoln, September 18, 1862. 3 pp., 7.75" x 9.625". Mild toning along folds; vertical crease; very good.

Complete Transcript
Washington City / September 18th 1862.
His Excellency / Abraham Lincoln
President of the U. States
My Dear Sir
I address you these few lines as an American Citizen coming to you for justice, which is all I ask. I feel that you will give it to me. I have watched you all through the critical times when our country has been in great danger. I have seen that you have done all in your power as an honest and willing man to save the country, and give all that are loyal justice.
On or about June 3rd you sent my nomination to the U.S. Senate for the position of Assistant Quarter Master with the rank of Captain. On the 14th day of July the Senate confirmed me. I have been waiting ever since for my commission, ready for duty. The Secretary of War has refused to give it to me and at the same time not telling me why he refuses it. there has been no charge made against me but what are false. All I want is a hearing, and I will prove I am innocent. I am anxious to take the field, where duty calls me. I have no fears of danger. I will do all in my power to sustain and support the Constitution of the United States and put down this wicked & uncalled for rebellion. I am willing to give up this position and take a more active one and face the enemy, now in our hour of danger when the enemy are threatening our Capitol. Hoping you will give me all I ask, justice, I have the honor to be your Excellencys
Obt Sert
Very Respectfully &c
Saml. S. Smoot

[Endorsement in Lincoln's hand:]
I remember nothing of this case. Is this letter true? If so what are the reasons? Sec. of War, please answer.
A. Lincoln
Sep. 19, 1862.

Mr. Smoot was nominated and confirmed at the close of the last session of Congress. His commission was at once made out and sent up to the Secretary of War for signature—but has never been returned to this office, though one or two inquiries have been made for it.
Respectfully submitted
L Thomas / Adjt Genl
Oct. 3/62

The Commission in this case is witheld because of information communicated to the Secretary of War which induces him to believe that Mr Smoot is not a suitable person for the US Service
Oct 13/62 Edwin M Stanton / Sec of War

Historical Background
When the Civil War began, Samuel S. Smoot was living in Minnesota, where he had lived for several years and worked as a clerk in the district land office. In November 1861, he arrived in Washington with his new wife to visit his mother. In the Spring of 1862, he began recruiting a company for the 1st Virginia Infantry, then forming in Washington, but the War Department halted the recruitment of troops.

After failing to obtain his commission as an assistant quartermaster. Smoot entered the business of government contractor. . By the summer of 1863, he was providing the Union Army with oats and hay. He was arrested at the Metropolitan Hotel in New York in October 1863 by order of the War Department. According to Smoot, he appeared before U.S. Marshal Robert Murray, who told him he was under orders to arrest a brother of Luther R. Smoot who had just returned from Europe with information for the rebels. Samuel S. Smoot was not a brother of Luther R. Smoot, nor had he been to Europe. The marshal admitted that Smoot was not the man for whom he sought and that mistakes often happened in arrests.

It is unclear whether Smoot was then released and arrested again concerning his actions as a government contractor He was tried by a general court-martial in 1864 on the charge of willful neglect of duty. He was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000 and to be imprisoned at Fort Delaware until the fine was paid.

On April 22, 1864, Samuel S. Smoot wrote a lengthy letter to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. Smoot insisted that the War Department had confused him with "other Smoots" who were in Washington at the beginning of the war and had since moved to the Confederacy. Insisting that he had been and remained "a true and loyal man." Smoot asked Stanton for a hearing "so I can prove to the entire satisfaction of the government that I am true and loyal, and always have been."

On August 3, 1864, War Department Assistant Adjutant General E. D. Townsend sent a letter to Brigadier General Albin F. Schoepf, who commanded the prison camp at Fort Delaware on an island in the Delaware River, enclosing General Court Martial Order No. 222, which modified Smoot's sentence, and a bond to be completed by Smoot.

On September 22, the War Department issued a special order that Smoot, who had been sentenced by a court martial earlier in 1864 "to pay to the United States a fine of ten thousand dollars, and be confined at such place as the Secretary of War may designate, until such fine be paid, provided such imprisonment shall not exceed three years," was pardoned by President Lincoln and would be discharged immediately.

Samuel S. Smoot (1838-1909) was born in the District of Columbia and moved to Minnesota by 1857. In 1860, he was a clerk in St. Paul, Minnesota. In February 1861, he married Louisa J. Colgrave (1843-1908) in Minnesota, and they had at least three children. By 1870, he was living in Washington, D.C., where he was an engineer. By 1880, his occupation was listed in the census as "At Leisure." Around 1890, he moved to London, England. In 1905, Louisa J. Smoot filed five ejectment suits in Washington, D.C. to recover property she claimed he used to secure loans but which she never authorized. Between 1905 and 1909, Smoot was admitted several times to workhouses in London. He was listed as a stockbroker, and his wife was listed as living in New York. He died in the last quarter of 1909 in the St. Pancras district of London.

Edwin M. Stanton (1814-1869) was born in Steubenville, Ohio, and graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1834. In 1836, he married Mary Ann Lamson (1813-1844), and they had a son and a daughter, though their daughter died as a toddler. Stanton commenced his political life as an Ohio lawyer and antislavery Democrat. In 1856, he married Ellen Hutchinson (1830-1873), and they had four children over the next seven years. Stanton served as U.S. Attorney General under President James Buchanan in the winter of 1860-1861, during which time he strengthened the Administration's resolve against secession. Appointed as Lincoln's Secretary of War in early 1862, Stanton brought civilian-style order to the Army and War Department, improving the efficiency of the armed forces. His earlier success as a Pittsburgh lawyer honed his skills in negotiation and communication, allowing him to work with Congress and the president to ensure appropriate involvement in the conduct of the war by each branch of government, as specified by the Constitution. Continuing in the cabinet of President Andrew Johnson, Stanton clearly articulated the Army's role as a major agent in the implementation of Reconstruction policies. Disagreements over Johnson's position on Reconstruction led to Stanton's ouster and eventually to Johnson's 1868 impeachment. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Stanton to the Supreme Court, but Stanton died before he could take the oath of office.

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