Monday, June 10, 2013

June 11, 1863 (Thursday): Hunter Plans Destruction

General David Hunter

PRIVATE.] SAINT NICHOLAS, N. Y., August 31, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington:
    DEAR SIR: From all I can see and hear at the North and from the hopeless state of the rebels I am fully convinced you will shortly be overwhelmed with the cry for "The Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is." Slavery will thus be fixed on us forever, and all our blood and treasure will have been expended in vain. Cannot this be prevented by a general arming of the negroes and a general destruction of all the property of the slaveholders, thus making it their interest to get rid of slavery?
      Let me take the men you can spare from this city, land at Brunswick, Ga., march through the heart of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to new Orleans, arming all the negroes and burning the house and other property of every slaveholder. A passage of this kind would create such a commotion among the negroes that they themselves could be left to do the rest of that work. I am a firm believer in the maxim that 'Slaveholders have no rights a negro is bound to respect."
     I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 

    D. HUNTER,

 Official Records, Series III., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 740.

Hunter had the distinction of traveling with Lincoln when he came to Washington as President in 1861 and going home with his body to Springfield in 1865.  He served in Kansas prior to the war and had corresponded with Lincoln on affairs there.  It may have been there where he developed his views on the limits, or lack thereof, to warfare against the South.  These views were held by many in the Republican Party, but fewer outside it.  Here he expresses a fear held within those circles, that the war would end too early with too little damage inflicted upon the South and its institutions.

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