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Letter signed W.G. Eliot to Gov. H.R. Gamble, December 1, 1862

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Identifier: D03883

Title: Letter signed W.G. Eliot to Gov. H.R. Gamble, December 1, 1862

Description: Petitions Governor Gamble by saying that the loyalty assessment policies currently in progress, which are levied upon assumed secessionists and southern sympathizers, are ineffective and evil, and writes that any assessment of loyalty should be based on clear evidence and careful investigation.


His Excellency, Gov. H. R. Gamble [Hamilton R. Gamble].


The undersigned, your memorialits, who is are now and always has have been Unconditional Union men & hearty supporters of the Government, most respectfully represent:

that the assessment now in progress, to be levied upon Secessionists and Southern Sympathizers, is working evil in this community and doing great harm to the Union Cause.

Among our citizens there are all shades of opinion, from what is that kind called of neutrality which is little better than Treason, through all the grades of lukewarmness, and hesitating zeal, up to the unqualified loyalty which your memorialists , in common with yourself, claim to possess. To assort and classify these, so as to indicate the dividing line of loyalty & disloyalty, and to establish the rates of payment by those falling below it, is a task of great difficulty. If it can be done at all, it must be by patient investigation, and after hearing evidence on both sides, giving each person the opportunity of self-defence. It would require, not only a competent tribunal, sitting for a great length of time & possessed of full authority to call & examine witnesses under oath, but also a kind & degree of scrutiny inconsistent with Republican Institutions. Such an investigation so far as practicable has been attempted in

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in the present case, and but although the character & standing of the members of the Assessment Board give assurance that the faithful endeavor to be just & impartial has been made, yet they have been compelled to hear admit hear-say evidence, rumors, & “general impressions”, and have in no case required witnesses to testify under oath. The unavoidable consequence has been that many feel themselves deeply aggrieved, not having supported themselves liable to the suspicion of disloyalty; many escape assessment who if any, deserve it; and a general impression of inequality in the rate rule and ratio of assessment prevails. This was unavoidable, because no two persons tribunals could agree upon the details of such an assessment, either as to persons or amounts to be assessed, without more complete knowledge of facts than can be obtained from ex parte testimony & current reports. Nothing short of a thorough, judicial investigation could lead to a satisfactory result.

Your memorialists also respectfully represent that nothing but clear evidence of disloyalty would justify assessment and that where such evidence exists the party so proved guilty should not be permitted to remain in the community without coming under heavy bonds, and in extreme cases should be required to go “beyond the lines,” To keep such persons here, especially after they have been

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exasperated by fines & held up to public contempt, is dangerous to the public peace and gives the most favorable opportunity for treasonable practice. The great object is to free the community from all who are determined to promote disorder, and to give every encouragement to those who remain, to fulfill the duties of loyalty & good citizenship. The doubtful should be brought back if possible, the wavering should be confirmed, and a door should be opened for the return of those who see the error of the past. The wise & energetic measures taken in this State, the last six months & since the assessment was ordered, have wrought a great change in these respects. The hope of. . . .

Rights: NoC-US

Place: United States

Dates: 1862-12-01

Type(s): Letter

Maker/Creator: Eliot, William Greenleaf, 1811-1887

Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Politics and government


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