Return to St. Augustine and the Civil War
Philip Fraser to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday,
January 5, 1865
Philip Fraser to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, January 05, 1865 (Affairs in Florida)
From Philip Fraser to Abraham Lincoln, January 5, 1865

Elizabeth New Jersey Jan 5th 1865


I hope you will find an excuse for my appealing to you again in behalf of the people of my state, in
the unprecedented condition of affairs now existing there-- Threatened by the rebels on one side,
Our rights as citizens of the United States disregarded and trampled upon by commanders of our
armies on the other, our property taken from us used, and in many cases greatly injured, without
compensation, our title to protection as American Citizens disputed, our cry when sent up to the War
Department treated with coldness or contempt, we appeal as a last resort to your Excellency, for that
protection to which we are entitled as free citizens of these United States, from the tyrannies of
commanders unused to the exercise of power-- I would rather fall to day by a rebel bullet fighting for
my country, than to be subjected day by day to the humiliation of submitting to the petty despotism
of small men in power, men who incapable of grappling, like Grant and Sherman and Thomas and
Sheriden and Porter and Farragut with this great rebellion fritter away their armies, through
weakness of head or want of heart for the cause in which they are engaged and expend the weight
of their power upon unoffending and unarmed citizens who have under the Constitution equal rights
with themselves-- I claim for loyal citizens of Florida all the rights and all the protection to which a
citizen of Illinois or of New York may be entitled, and I claim them properly or the rebel doctrine of
State rights must be conceded to be true-- Thanks to Gen Sherman we hope soon to see Florida
free and restored to her rightful position under the Government -- upholding constitutional liberty,
and rebuking tyranny with the ballot, as well as with the bullet--

I claim Mr President to be a loyal citizen ready to sacrifice what little I have not already sacrificed, to
restore the authority of the Government over the rebel states. I am ready to fight when men of my
physical ability are needed-- I will vouch for greater sacrifices than my own on the part of some of my
fellow citizens now in Florida. Can Gen Foster with truth claim any greater devotion to his country? Is
he in right of his commission privileged to take what little remains to us and deprive us of every
means of supporting our families and retrieving our fortunes? We do not believe that the
Government will sustain him in such designs. But if it does our citizenship becomes of less value
than we have hitherto believed. Some of the citizens who have lost large amounts of property on
account of their fidelity to the Union have purchased confiscated rebel property at Marshals sale--
Gen Foster refuses to give them possession, and alleges that he holds it as a military necessity--

When applied to by one of the purchasers, I am credibly informed that he replied -- "that if the U. S.
Court did not stop interfering with him he would evacuate Florida"-- The carrying out of such a threat
might exhibit good Generalship in escaping from a dangerous enemy viz: the U. S. Court, but I think
it will hardly be considered by Gen Grant a military necessity.

I wish myself to place no impediment in the way of military operations. The Court has not done so
thus far. Neither can it do so-- It is merely exercising its proper functions by enforcing the laws of
Congress. If the Government will sustain the Court it will continue to do so, if not it must discontinue
its business and adjourn until happier days--

I have the honor respectfully to request that the policy of the Government may in this matter be
indicated to me at an early day that I may determine what action to take in the premises--

I have the honor to be

Very Respectfully

Your Obdt Servant

Philip Fraser

U. S. Dist Judge

Northern Dist of Florida

(Library of Congress, Lincoln Collection)
Abraham Lincoln, 1865
John Gray Foster
Head the Department of the South