John Minor Botts reflects on his “crimes” against the Confederacy

Posted on February 28, 2011 by



John Minor Botts

In the wake of my post, yesterday, at Southern Unionists Chronicles (and recalling the suspension of habeas corpus and declaration of martial law, under the administration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis)…


An Interesting Document – Why John Minor Botts was Imprisoned.
From the Richmond Republic. [as reprinted in the January 22, 1866 edition of the New York Times].

The sayings and doings of a distinguished political prisoner during his imprisonment are ever after a subject of interest. The document below, in the handwriting of Hon. JOHN M. BOTTS, was sent us sometime since by a gentleman in the county, to whom Mr. BOTTS had given it. It will be found interesting when we remember when and where it was written. Read it:

Reasons, as they passed through my mind on the night of the 27th April, 1862, as I lay after eight weeks’ solitary confinement in a negro jail, as the causes of my confinement:

1. Because I would not aid in the breaking up the Union formed by WASHINGTON and his compeers, which, from infancy, I had been taught to venerate and adore as the only sheet-anchor of national greatness, prosperity and freedom.

2. Because I would not aid in the destruction of the best government the world has ever looked upon.

3. Because I would not aid in bringing civil war, desolation and famine upon my own section of the country.

4. Because I would not aid in the dismemberment, impoverishment and ruin of my native State, and desolation of the whole South.

5. Because I would not aid in the slaughter of the hundreds of thousands that have been and will be sacrificed.

6. Because I would not aid in breaking up the social ties and life-long and personal and family intimacies that for generations have existed.

7. Because I would not aid in making widows and orphans unnumbered and untold.

8. Because I would not aid in turning the instincts of humanity into that of wolves and other brutes.

9. Because I would not practice a low deception and an unworthy trick, as thousands have done, from motives of selfishness, ambition or fear.

10. Because I would not adopt for myself, or recommend for others, a policy by which the fruits of a country’s labor must be thrown away.

11. Because I had the firmness to adhere with fidelity to the principles I had cherished, and labored for thirty years to establish, and which my State had just adopted at the polls, but which she renounced and repudiated at the dictation of a daring and corrupt Democracy.

12. Because I preferred living under a permanent and enduring government to one that was constructed on the principles of a bomb-shell, containing the elements of destruction within itself, and sooner or later must explode and leave a wreck behind.

13. Because I preferred a government that would protect its citizens and their property, to one that would oppress and rob them.

14. Because I preferred rational civil liberty under a constitutional form of government to a hateful military despotism.

15. Because I would not sacrifice the best interests of the people, to perpetuate the power of Democracy under a Southern Confederacy, when they lost it under the national government.

16. Because I cared more for the interests and freedom of the people than I did for their caresses, and tried to take better care of them than they did of themselves.

17. Because I would not become a rebel and a traitor to my country when it had done no harm to me or my State.

18. Because I was honest, in earnest, and patriotic when I voted for “the Union, the constitution, and the enforcement of the laws,” and will not now stultify myself by repudiating all.

19. And lastly – because I was not born either a fool or a knave.

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