A Republican Paper on Mr. Davis's Case

March 27, 1867


Former Confederate president Jefferson Davis has been held in prison for over two years without trial or consideration for his detainment. No branch of the government wants to deal with his trial which is leading to a bad reputation of the American system.


Senator Wilson has taken one step towards rescuing the country from further disgrace by his resolutions concerning the trial of Jefferson Davis. It is now very nearly two years since he was captured and consigned to prison : not under any process of law, but by military authority. Meantime the war has ended, the armies are disbanded, and Davis still remains in prison. He has never been arraigned for trial either before a civil or a military tribunal. He is not held under any authority known to the law of the land. No charges are on record against him, and no effectual steps have been taken to bring him to trial. Every now and then Congress denounces the President for not hanging him--the President explains that he has no power or authority even to try him, and the Chief Justice declines to meddle with the matter at all until the condition of Virginia is moro to his mind. Meantime Davis lies in prison, and nobody is responsible for it, or has the power, apparently, either to put him on trial or set him free. This state of things would be a disgrace to the worst days of the worst despotism of Europe. Startling stories used to be told of victims of Austrian tyranny being left to rot in the dungeons of Spielberg until even their names and existence had been forgotten. Our Government, by its treatment of the only conspicuous State prisoner they have had, seems likely to relieve the reputation of foreign despotisms from the unshared obloquy under which it has rested so long. We agree with the Massachusetts senator, that Davis should either be put upon his trial or set at liberty.
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Walker Black




“A Republican Paper on Mr. Davis's Case,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 7, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/553.