Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 27, 1865

The May 27, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly features a cover article on Lewis Payne, the would-be assassin of Secretary Seward, news of the capture of Jefferson Davis, and important information of Black Suffrage following the Civil War.  We have posted the entire newspaper in readable form.  Simply click on the thumbnail below to be taken to a large, readable version of that page.

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Black Suffrage

Black Suffrage

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

General Johnston's Surrender

General Joseph Johnston's Surrender

Joe Johnston Surrender

Johnston's Surrender to Sherman

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle for Mobile

Battle For Mobile Alabama

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb



MAY 27, 1865.]



South will be as anxious for the complete restoration of peace and trade as the North, and will not be prone to put the Government to much further expense for military operations. It is safe to estimate the revenue from customs and taxes at $350,000,000. For interest on the public debt about $150,000,000 will be required. This would leave $200,000,000 for the ordinary expenses of Government—say nearly three times as much as they used to be before the war.

Three thousand millions is, of course, a very large sum of money to owe. It may be said to amount to $100 a head for every man, woman, and child in the country ; the annual interest $5 a head. But Great Britain owes nearly $4,000,000,000, and has not a tithe of our resources. The debt of France, which may be set down in rough figures at $1,500,000,000, and that of Austria, $1,100,000,000, are heavier burdens, in proportion to the resources and progressive wealth of these countries, than $3,000,000,000 will prove in the United States. Dr. ELDER has shown, in an elaborate paper on the subject, that this large debt may be paid off, if deemed desirable, within the century, and that the annual interest charge will not be felt as oppressively as the taxes which European nations pay.

A question closely connected with the settlement of the national debt, and scarcely less important, is—How soon can specie payments be resumed? It took England six years to resume after the peace, though the Bank of England issues, at their highest figure, were less than one-fourth those of our Government. Precedents, however, are unsafe guides in such cases. The United States in 1865 are a very different country from Great Britain in 1865. Austria and Russia have never been able to resume ; but those countries are not progressive.

It is clear that no attempt to resume can be made until the necessity for borrowing currency to pay expenses has passed away. It is also clear that specie will command a premium—no matter how strong the confidence in the General Government—so long as we have $900,000,000 of irredeemable paper afloat. When the ordinary revenue from taxes and customs equals or exceeds the Government expenditure, a step toward resumption may be made by beginning to fund the legal tenders. But this can not be effected suddenly, or all at once. When Government begins to contract the currency, the money market will become stringent, a stagnation in business will ensue, and the revenue from customs and taxes will decline. From this cause the first attempt to resume in England proved a disastrous failure. It is to be hoped that our Government will profit by the example. A currency contraction, to be successful in its object, must be gradual, and should extend, probably, over more than two years.

Something will depend on the confidence placed in American securities by Europeans. Europe holds over $350,000,000 of our bonds. If the holders send them here for sale now, they can realize a large profit on their investment. Should they do so gold would rise, United States stocks would fall, and the difficulty of funding the currency would be increased. If, instead of selling the bonds they hold, Europeans should buy more, or if, as has been suggested, a special loan should be negotiated in Europe with the effect of placing $500,000,000 of gold at the disposal of our Government, gold would necessarily fall, bonds would rise, and the path would be smoothed for an early resumption. It is difficult to determine what course the European capitalists will pursue, but among the foreign bankers it seems to be believed that more bonds are likely to go out than will come home.

With the restoration of peace, the construction of the Pacific Railroad, and the establishment of steam lines across the Pacific, nothing is wanting to make New York the financial centre of the world but the resumption of specie payments.


THE London Spectator, commenting upon the sudden check of our jubilee of victory by the murder of Mr. LINCOLN, calls it the " irony of fate." So it may have seemed at the moment; but now it is clear that Fate was never so generous as in dealing with this rebellion. Within less than two months the great conspiracy, which had lasted long enough to gain the semblance of a power, suddenly reels, crashes, and crumbles utterly away. In the last struggle its expiring force is concentrated into one crime so black that the shuddering world every where recognizes the utterly devilish spirit of the rebellion ; and that the whole gamut of emotion may be swept, from the extreme of joy, through the most harrowing tragedy, to utter farce and contempt, while America and Europe are still aghast, a peal of inextinguishable laughter goes ringing round the globe as the chief conspirator, " the statesman who has created a nation," skulks tremblingly away in petticoats, and whines that it is too bad to pursue women and children !

So this rebellion, the most formidable in history, which, it is not too much to say, would have prevailed against any other government in

the world, is not only absolutely annihilated by the resistless energy of a truly popular Government, but ends without a sign of the dignity that lesser crimes sometimes assume, despicably and ridiculously. Even JUDAS ISCARIOT went out and hung himself. BOOTH, the murderer of one beloved man, at least died like a savage beast at bay. Nobody will ever smile at the mention of his name. But Davis, with the blood of untold thousands of brave and noble victims upon his soul, will go down to posterity, cowering under a petticoat, the object of mingled horror and derision.


IF any eminent American statesman should be guilty of the public ignorance of current affairs which Earl RUSSELL displays in his speech, moving an address of sympathy to the Government of the United States, he would be universally ridiculed. Earl RUSSELL coolly says: " Upon another question the United States and the Confederates will have a most difficult task to perform."

The fall of Richmond, the surrender of ROBERT E. LEE, the flight of Davis, the general crash of the rebellion had not yet cleared his Lordship's mind of Mr. GLADSTONE'S famous idea that JEFFERSON DAVIS had " created a nation." He speaks of vanquished and scattered rebels as of a power with which the United States were to conclude a treaty for the settlement of difficulties : as if there were a portion of the citizens of this country who were to be known as " Confederates." It is as if he should say that, after the coronation of WILLIAM III., his Majesty and JAMES II. had a most difficult task to perform. The " Confederates" have performed their task as JAMES did his. In England then, as now in this country, there were the Government and its enemies, and no other parties or powers.

His Lordship proceeds to speak of the proclamation of President LINCOLN in these words: "At a later period he made a communication to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States forces in which he proposed that in certain States the slaves should be entirely free ; but at a later period he proposed, what he had a constitutional qualification to propose, that there should be an alteration in the Constitution of the United States by which compulsory labor should hereafter be forbidden." It is incredible that the man in all England whose peculiar business it is to know better should make such a statement. The President was himself the Commander-in-Chief, and by his order directly emancipated the slaves ; and the " later period" to which Earl RUSSELL alludes was the occasion of the call upon Mr. LINCOLN last June of the Committee to inform him of his nomination, when he expressed his especial satisfaction with the resolution of the Convention which approved a constitutional amendment of emancipation.

No honorable Englishman can expect us to forget what Earl RUSSELL said of our late war while it was in progress. If we were likely to forget, Earl DERBY, the Tory leader of the Lords, has reminded us. With all the instinctive hostility of aristocracy to triumphant democracy, and with venomous glee at the chance of contrasting Earl RUSSELL'S words of today with those of yesterday, Lord DERBY says: " There may be differences of opinion as to the merits of the two parties who are contending, the one for empire and the other for independence, in the United States. I follow the words of the noble Lord opposite."

It was a splendid sneer ; nor was it undeserved by Lord RUSSELL, who, while that famous phrase of his was still perfectly fresh in public memory, had the temerity to say that at the commencement of the contest he had declared that he did not believe "the great republic of the United States would perish in this war."

It is not of the neutrality, it is of the hypocrisy of the British Government that the loyal citizens of this country have complained. If Lord RUSSELL said that he did not believe our Government would be destroyed, he virtually said that he thought it ought to be. And the very House of Lords to which he proposed the address of condolence cheered Lord DERBY'S remark that the assassination was wholly alien to the " courageous," " manly," and " forbearing" spirit in which the rebels had made war upon loyal citizens.

We beg our real English friends not to suppose that we are deceived. We estimate at their ex-act value Lord RUSSELL'S delight in our success and Lord DERBY'S sympathy for our sorrow.


TREASON is the highest crime known to the Constitution. The treason of JEFFERSON DAVIS and his confederates has been prolonged and bloody beyond precedent. The Government of the United States owed it to itself to spare no effort to arrest the acknowledged chief of the conspiracy. It has secured him, and no sound reason can be urged why the law should not take its course. JEFFERSON DAVIS must be tried for treason. If convicted he must be sentenced. If sentenced he must be executed, unless for high reasons of state the President should commute his punishment.

The sole question will be, how DAVIS'S fate can be made the most emphatic warning. Would it be wiser to disable him forever as an American citizen; to banish him from the country under penalty of death upon his return, and so deprive him of the opportunity of making that final appeal from the scaffold as a political victim, which always awakens sooner or later the sympathy of mankind ; or to show the country and the world that a Senator of the United States, who deliberately resigns his office at the capital and withdraws to wage cruel and causeless war against the Government, however imposing his rebellion may be, however its scope and duration may convulse his country to the heart and command the attention of the world and the sympathy of an aristocracy every where, is still a criminal ; and when arrested by the law will be brought to trial, and upon lawful conviction will be made to suffer the penalty, exactly like the obscurest thief, and will not be shielded from punishment on the ground that his crime has involved the desolation of the country, the slaughter of thousands of innocent citizens, and the national embarrassment of a colossal debt? Can any lesson be so permanently impressive as the final proof by the solemn sanction of the supreme authority that treason against the United States is not a political difference of opinion, but a crime whose enormity will not remit the legal penalty ?

It is clear that, if DAVIS shall be lawfully convicted, the question must be finally settled whether treason shall ever be punished in this country as a capital crime. If in his person the penalty is remitted it can never be enforced upon any other offender. Treason so towering, so sanguinary, so causeless can never again be committed. If magnanimity or good policy require that Davis shall not suffer, they require that treason shall cease to be accounted a capital crime.


THE kind letter of sympathy which the Queen of England has written to Mrs. LINCOLN is doubtless dictated not only by her acute sense of the affliction which has befallen the late President's widow, but also by her pious remembrance of the friendship for this country of the late Prince Consort. The letter is also, whether intentionally or not, a masterly stroke of state policy. It is a further and extraordinary earnest of the feeling which the head of the British Government cherishes for this country, and will naturally tend to soothe the disagreeable remembrance of the occasional conduct of her ministers.

We are very sure that the great mass of the people of England rust understand that while we have marked every word spoken in Parliament and elsewhere in the progress of the war, and do not change our opinions of their spirit and significance, we yet cherish no national hostility. We do not forget that we have had no more constant friends than certain illustrious Englishmen, whose names we honor, and whose principles we should gladly see administering the Government of her friendly Majesty.


" Kate Kennedy" (HARPERS) is the title of a pleasant novel, " the old, old story of honest, true, and devoted love," which has something of the delightful plot of the ballad of "The Lord of Burleigh," and will be a welcome summer companion for the mountains or sea-side.

" Lovers and Thinkers" (CARLETON) is an American tale of to-day. Its earnest, noble spirit, its generous sympathy with every humane aspiration and movement, and its tranquil and scholarly tone will win hosts of friends among those classes for which it is happily named.

WE are courteously reminded by a gentleman who knows, that we were in error in supposing that Louts NAPOLEON was ever a denizen of Leicester Square, in London. During his English residence he was regarded as the head of his house.


WEALTH is something more than gold,

More than luxury and ease ; Treasures never to be told

May be found apart from these. Men who great possessions own

May be needy none the less: They are rich, and they alone,

Who have store of nobleness.

Palaces are dreary domes;

Fair demesnes, but deserts wild;

If there be not happy homes,

Gentle thoughts, and manners mild.

Trust me, though his lot be small, And he make but slight pretense,

He who lives at peace with all Dwells in true magnificence.

If you'd prove of noble birth,

0 beware of judgments rash; Scorn to measure human worth-

By the sordid rule of cash. Gold and silver may depart,

Proudest dynasties may fall ;



AMONG the many blessings which come to the loyal people of this country through the return of peace it is not to be reckoned as the least that we are henceforth secure not only against overt warfare against our Government, but also against the infernal schemes which have been concocted for the murder and robbery of peaceful citizens.

The examination of Dr. Blackburn at Bermuda has fully established the fact of his conspiracy, with a resident of that place named Swan, to take to New York, Philadelphia, and other Northern cities, trunks containing infected clothing, with the object of thus introducing yellow-fever. Blackburn hails from Canada, and the funds used in carrying out his nefarious plot were drawn from the Confederate exchequer.

Several important rebels are now under arrest. Davis has been captured. Governor Brown, of Georgia, and R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, are under arrest.


The Government has decided to reduce the army to from 125,000 to 150,000 men. The mustering-out will go on as rapidly as possible, but much time will be required to arrange reports, rosters, and accounts.

A correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer states that the rebel archives have taken their departure for Washington. Ninety-three large boxes, packed with the papers of the late rebel Government, and directed to Hon. C. A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, were so many witnesses that the rebellion is over.

We learn, by way of Panama, that the pirate Shenandoah sailed from Melbourne on the I8th of February. Her destination was unknown, but it was generally supposed that she would undertake a cruise on the Pacific coast in the track of vessels bound for California.

Major-General Rosecrans visited the Representatives' Hall at the State House, Boston, on the 11th, and at the close of the session made a speech, in which he emphatically denied the truth of the report that he was gathering a force of 20,000 men for the invasion of Mexico and the enforcement of the Monroe doctrine.

Major-General N. J. T. Dana, United States Volunteers, is relieved from command of the Department of the Mississippi, and Major-General G. K. Warren, United States Volunteers, is assigned to the command.

The Times Washington correspondent makes the following statement in regard to the affair between Halleck and Sherman : " Painful stories of discourteous conduct on the part of General Sherman to a brother officer at Richmond are in circulation here, and are founded on fact. When General Sherman arrived at Petersburg from Raleigh, via City Point, General Halleck sent word to him that he had secured a residence in Richmond for his (Sherman's) use, as long as his headquarters should be in the city, and tendering him the hospitalities and civilities due to his position. General Sherman replied curtly, declining the proffered courtesy, and adding that he could not recognize General Halleck. The latter replied in a friendly tone, and expressed the hope that General Sherman would not consider a friendship of twenty years' standing severed because he (Halleck) had been compelled to officially perform an unpleasant duty, and expressing a hope that he might have the pleasure of reviewing General Sherman's troops on their passage through Richmond. To this General Sherman replied in substance that he could not recognize General Halleck, and that his corps commanders were instructed that if they found him in their march through Richmond in a position to review the troops they must change the direction of their march and avoid him. The Committee on the Conduct of the War, it may be added, sent a message to General Sherman, asking, in view of their early adjournment, that he proceed from Richmond to Washington by boat, and appear before the Committee at an early day. He declined peremptorily, and proceeded to march onward with his troops."


THE United States Minister to Portugal makes the following statement respecting the difficulty in Lisbon Harbor in March in a letter to the London Times:

"The ram Stonewall came into the Tagus on Sunday morning, the 26th of March, and moored at the anchorage assigned to ships of war. A notice was soon afterward served by his Majesty's government, requiring the ram to quit the port within twenty-four hours, which limitation expired on Monday, the 27th, about 2 rm. The vessel remained in the Tagus until 10.30 A.M. on Tuesday, the 28th of March, that is to say, some twenty hours beyond the time fixed by the notice. There was no pretense of force majeure to warrant this delay, for the ram had just issued from the port of Ferrol after a stay of seven weeks for repairs; had made the voyage between the two places with remarkable speed, and the weather was fine.

" The United States ships Niagara and Sacramento entered the Tagus on Monday evening, the 27th of March, five hours after the time for the departure of the Stonewall had expired, and came to anchor at o' clock, about three-quarters of a mile above Belen Castle, which marks the conventional line of inner entrance to the port, and is some two and a half miles below the regular anchorage of ships of war. Fort St. Julian guards the outer entrance at the bar, five miles beyond Helen Castle.

" His Majesty's guard-ship Sagres was moored above Belen Castle when the Niagara and Sacramento entered, and a subordinate officer of that ship came off and conveyed, by means of a person called an interpreter, a verb-al request to the effect that, as the presence of the Stone-wall had excited much anxiety, it was desired that the two ships should remain near the castle, and should not go out for twenty-four hours after the Stonewall.

"The Stonewall started out on Tuesday morning, the 28th of March, at 10.30 o'clock. When all alarm was sup-posed to have subsided, orders were given at 3.15 P.M. nearly five hours afterward, and when the idea of pursuit was absurd—to move the ships to the usual moorings, for convenience to the city. Owing to the state of the tide the bows of all the shipping in port were pointed toward Belen Castle. The Niagara and Sacramento were under the exclusive direction of Portuguese pilots, wearing the uniform and other insignia of his Majesty's Government. The Sacramento never advanced an inch from her first position, but backed and turned. Owing to the great length of the Niagara the Portuguese pilot did not see fit to attempt it similar movement, but, with a sweep in the river, described the are of a circle, to carry her to her new anchorage-ground. In executing that movement the Niagara passed near to his Majesty's ship Sagres, then lying between the Niagara and Helen Castle, from which all the verbal messages had come, and which is charged with the special duty of enforcing the regulations of the port, and all orders of the Government relating to foreign ships. No objection or opposition of any sort was intimated by the Sagres, and that fact was plainly visible at Helen Castle. As the Niagara was proceeding on her way, and at no time within several hundred yards of the conventional line of exit from and entrance to the port, Belen Castle, without warning, inquiry, or precaution, opened is fire against the ship of three spotted guns in quick succession. The flag of the Niagara was immediately dipped in sign of acknowledgment. The firing ceased during the space of a few minutes, and was then suddenly returned, when the flag of the Niagara was hoisted at the peak, not-withstanding which, and while her bow was actually turned. to the city, the firing continued, one ball striking the port quarter,' and two others elsewhere. While the firing was going on, an officer of the guard-ship Sagres presented himself on board the Niagara, to express regret for tide violence, stating, at the sank, time, that it must have originated in some strange mistake, as his ship had received orders to permit the Niagara and Sacramento to proceed to sea at 2 P.M. that day—an hour and a quarter before they began to move at all—if such was the desire of the Commodore.

"By a providential interposition no life was lost, and no injury was inflicted. Commodore Craven, with rare self-command, in the face of such marked provocation, did not return the fire of the castle, and to his discretion alone may be attributed the happy exemption from causes of mourning, which every friend of humanity will appreciate and rejoice at."




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