Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson Letter Signed to Ulysses S. Grant. One page, on State of Tennessee, Executive Department letterhead, 5" x 8", Nashville, February 1, 1865. With this letter, Johnson introduces a friend and asks that General Ulysses S. Grant meet with him. In full: "Genl, Please permit me to introduce to your favorable consideration Mr. J.J. Giers of Ala., now a resident of this City for some time personally known to me. Mr. G is a man of high character, standing & integrity, thoroughly loyal to the Federal Gov't. Any statement he may make can be relied upon with implicit confidence. He desires a short audience with you, which I hope will be granted. Very respectfully, Your obdt. Servt., [signed] Andrew Johnson."

    J.J. Giers was a leader of the State Rights Party, a strong pro-peace party based in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi whose members were eager for their states to rejoin the Union as quickly as possible. The State Rights Party also fought for Union protection of their deserting soldiers, many of whom were never pro-secession and had been deserting the Confederate Army in increasing numbers for more than a year. Finding that his schedule prevented travel to Washington, on February 6th, Giers sent a lengthy letter to General Grant, enclosing the letter offered here. Giers made his case for state rights, implied that Alabama's citizens had essentially been forced into rebellion, and petitioned General Grant to revise military law concerning deserters from Alabama, saying: "I would most respectfully suggest to you the propriety of extending your most excellent laws and regulations in regard to deserters (now applicable only to Tennessee and Kentucky) to that part of Alabama contained within your lines, as in my humble opinion North Alabama has always been and is at this time more loyal than the former States."

    Research has not brought to light a response from General Grant, but it should be noted that per Grant's General Orders No. 10 (December 12, 1863), any deserter that wished to quit his Confederate military service needed only to make that statement to a commanding Union officer and take an oath swearing allegiance to the United States and the Constitution. Further, Grant ordered that "Passes and rations may be given to deserters to carry them to their homes, and free passes over military railroads and on steamboats in government employ... Employment at fair wages will, when practicable, be given to deserters... To avoid the danger of re-capture of such deserters by the enemy, they will be exempt from the military service in the armies of the United States." Four months later in Alabama, following the establishment of a provisional government, all prisoners who claimed to be union sympathizers were released and military authorities refused to bring individuals to trial for offenses committed during the war, provided they asserted their unionist sympathies.

    Letter is beautifully penned; faint toning; small section of paper loss at upper right corner.

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