[CIVIL WAR]. DAVIS, Jefferson (1808-1889), President, C.S.A. Autograph letter signed ("Jeffn. Davis"), as former Confederate President, to I. D. Corse, Lennoxville, Quebec Canada, 11 November 1867. 1½ pages, 8vo, ruled paper, remnants of mounting on verso of first page and recto and verso of second page, closed tears repaired on verso, ownership stamp of Dr. Max Thorek on second page. With original autograph envelope.
DAVIS GROWLS AS WASHINGTON KEEPS HIM IN LEGAL LIMBO ON HIS TREASON TRIAL
An important Jefferson Davis letter from Canada, discussing his treason trial. "Notwithstanding the reports of an arrangement by which I should be relieved of the necessity of going to Richmond," he tells Corse, "the fact is that nothing has been done to assure us of a trial or to remove the obligation of attendance. When I leave here it will be my object to pass without delay to the end of the journey, it will not therefore be probable that I shall see you again before going. Will you send me a statement of the investment with which you allowed me to trouble you, such a description as will suffice for any use..."
The Federal government indicted Davis for treason in May 1866, and held him in strict confinement at Fortress Monroe into 1867. Hardliners like Secretary of War Stanton were convinced that Davis was behind the Lincoln assassination plot, and they wanted him to hang for it. On the other hand several prominent northerners urged his release as a gesture of sectional reconciliation and hoped the whole case would go away if Davis would only apply for a presidential pardon. This he adamantly refused to do so. He looked forward to a trial so that he might have a public stage on which to vindicate his actions. With evidence hard to muster in support of the indictment, a judge signed a habeas corpus writ, releasing him on bond in 1867 (Horace Greeley signed the bail bond). Davis and his wife repaired to Lennoxville, Quebec, where many other Confederate exiles like Corse lived. Administration officials remained sharply divided about what to do with him and he became a pawn in the power struggle between President Johnson and the Radical Republicans over whether to enact a harsh or conciliatory reconstruction policy towards the South. The government never did bring him to trial.