Executive Mansion, Washington D.C.
January 31, 1864
Major General Banks,
Yours of the 22nd. Inst. is just received. In the proclamation of Dec. 8, and which contains the oath that you say some loyal people wish to avoid taking, I said:
“And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the states wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal State governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State governments may be re-established within said States, or in any of them; and, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.”
And Speaking of this in the message, I said:
“Saying that reconstruction will be accepted if presented in a specified way, is not said it will never be accepted in any other way.”
These things were put into these documents on purpose that some conformity to circumstances should be admissible [sic]; and when I have, more than once, said to you in my letters that available labor already done should not be thrown away, I had in mind the very class of cases you now mention. So you see it is not even a modification of anything I have heretofore said when I tell you that you are at liberty to adopt any rule which shall admit to vote any unquestionably loyal free-state men and none others. And yet I do wish they would all take the oath. Yours truly