Washington, D. C., February 17, 1866.
Robert E. Lee sworn and examined.
By Mr. Howard:
Question. Where is your present residence?
Answer. Lexington, Virginia.
Question. How long have you resided at Lexington?
Answer. Since the first of October last; nearly five months.
Question. Are you acquainted with the state of feeling among what we call secessionists in Virginia, at present, toward the government of the United States?
Answer. I do not know that I am. I have been living very retired, and have had but little communication with politicians. I know nothing more than from my observation, and from such facts as have come to my knowledge.
Question. From your observation, what is your opinion as to the feeling of loyalty towards the government of the United States among the secession portion of the people of that State at this time?
Answer. So far as has come to my knowledge, I do not know of a single person who either feels or contemplates any resistance to the government of the United States, or, indeed, any opposition to it. No word has reached me to either purpose.
Question. From what you have observed among them, is it your opinion that they are friendly toward the government of the United States, and that they will co-operate to sustain and uphold the government for the future?
Answer. I believe that they entirely acquiesce in the government of the United States, and, so far as I have heard any one express an opinion, they are for co-operating with President Johnson in his policy.
Question. In his policy in regard to what?
Answer. His policy in regard to the restoration of the whole country. I have heard persons with whom I have conversed express great confidence in the wisdom of his policy of restoration, and they seem to look forward to it as a hope of restoration.
Question. How do they feel in regard to that portion of the people of the United States who have been forward and zealous in the prosecution of the war against the rebellion?
Answer. Well, I do not know. I have heard nobody express any opinion in regard to it. As 1 said before, I have not had much communication with politicians in the country, if there are any. Every one seems to be engaged in his own affairs, and endeavoring to restore the civil government of the State. I have heard no expression of a sentiment toward any particular portion of the country.
Question. How do the secessionists feel in regard to the payment of the debt of the United States contracted in the prosecution of the war?
Answer. I have never heard any one speak on the subject. I suppose they must expect to pay the taxes levied by the government. I have heard them speak in reference to the payment of taxes, and of their efforts to raise money to pay the taxes, which I suppose are tor their share of the debt. I have never heard any one speak in opposition to the payment of taxes, or of resistance to their payment. Their whole effort has been to try and raise the money for the payment of the taxes.
Question. From your knowledge of the state of public feeling in Virginia, is it your opinion that the people would, if the question were left to them, repudiate and reject that debt?
Answer. I never heard any one speak on that subject, but from my knowledge of the people I believe that they would be in favor of the payment of all just debts.
Question. Do they, in your opinion, regard that as a just debt?
Answer. I do not know what their opinion is on the subject of the particular debt. I have never heard any opinion expressed, but I have never heard any expressed, contrary to it. Indeed, as I said in the beginning, I have had very little discussion or intercourse with the people. I believe that the people would pay the debts they are called upon to pay. I say that from my knowledge of the people generally.
Question. Would they pay that debt, or their portion of it, with as much alacrity as people ordinarily pay their taxes to their government?
Answer. I do not know that they would make any distinction between the two. The taxes laid by the government, so far as I know, they are prepared to pay to the best of their ability. I never heard them make any distinction.
Question. What is the feeling of that portion of the people of Virginia in regard to the payment of the so-called confederate debt?
Answer. I believe, so far as my opinion goes, (I have no facts to go upon, but merely base my opinion on the knowledge 1 have of the people,) they would be willing to pay the confederate debt too.
Question. You think they would?
Answer. I think they would if they had the power and ability to do it. I have never heard any one in the State with whom I have conversed speak of repudiating any debt.
Question. I suppose the confederate debt is almost entirely valueless, even in the market of Virginia?
Answer. Entirely, as far as I know. I believe the people generally look upon it as lost entirely. I never beard any question on the subject.
Question. Do you recollect the terms of the confederate bonds—when they were made payable?
Answer. I think I have a general recollection that they were made payable six months after a declaration of peace.
Question. Six months after the ratification of a treaty of peace between the United States and the confederate government?
Answer. I think they ran in that way.
Question. So that the bonds are not due yet by their terms?
Answer. I suppose, unless it is considered that there is peace now, they are not due.
Question. How do the people in Virginia, the secessionists more particularly, feel toward the freedmen?
Answer. Every one with whom I associate expresses kind feelings towards the freedmen. They wish to see them get on in the world, and particularly to take up some occupation for a living and to turn their lands to some work. I know that efforts have been made among the farmers, near where I live, to induce them to engage for the year at regular wages.
Question. Do you think there is a willingness on the part of their old masters to give them fair, living wages for their labor?
Answer. I believe it is so. The farmers generally prefer those servants who have been living with them before. I have heard them express their preference for the men whom they know, who had lived with them before, and their wish to get them to return to work.
Question. Are you aware of the existence of any combination among the whites to keep down the wages of the negroes?
Answer. I am not. I have heard that, in several counties, land owners have met in order to establish a uniform rate of wages; but I never heard, nor do I know, of any combination to keep down wages, or establish any rate which they did not think fair. The means of paying wages in Virginia are very limited now, and there is a difference of opinion as to now much each person is able to pay.
Question. How do they feel in regard to the education of the blacks? Is there a general willingness or a general unwillingness to have them educated?
Answer. Where I am, and have been, the people have exhibited a willingness that the blacks should be educated, and they express an opinion that that would be better for the blacks and better for the whites.
Question. General, you are very competent to judge of the capacity of black men for acquiring knowledge: I want your opinion on that capacity, as compared with the capacity of white men?
Answer. I do not know that I am particularly qualified to speak on that subject, as yon seem to intimate; but I do not think that he is as capable of acquiring knowledge as the white man is. There are some more apt than others. I have known some to acquire knowledge and skill in their trade or profession. I have had servants of my own who learned to read and write very well.
Question. Do they show a capacity to obtain knowledge of mathematics and the exact sciences?
Answer. I have no knowledge on that subject. I am merely acquainted with those who have learned the common rudiments of education.
Question. General, are you aware of the existence among the blacks of Virginia, anywhere within the limits of the State, of combinations having in view the disturbance of the peace, or any improper and unlawful acts?
Answer. I am not. I have seen no evidence of it, and have heard of none. Wherever I have been they have been quiet and orderly, not disposed to work, or rather not disposed to any continuous engagement to work, but just very short jobs, to provide them with the immediate means of subsistence.
Question. Has the colored race generally as great a love of money and property as the white race possesses?
Answer. I do not think it has. The blacks with whom I am acquainted look more to the present time than to the future?
Question. Does that absence of a lust of money and property arise more from the nature of the negro than from his former servile condition?
Answer. Well, it may be, in some measure, attributable to his former condition. They are an amiable, social race. They like their ease and comfort, and, I think, look more to their present than to their future condition.
Question. In the event of a war between the United States and any foreign power, such as England or France, if there should be held out to the secession portion of the people of Virginia, or the other recently rebel States, a fair prospect of grabbing their independence, and shaking off the government of the United States, is it, or is it not, your opinion that they would avail themselves of that opportunity?
Answer. I cannot speak with any certainty on that point. I do not know how far they might be actuated by their feelings. I have nothing whatever to base an opinion upon. So far as I know, they contemplate nothing of the kind now. What may happen in the future I cannot say.
Question. Do you not frequently hear, in your intercourse with secessionists in Virginia, expressions of a hope that such a war may break out?
Answer. I cannot say that I have heard it. On the contrary, I have heard persons (I do not know whether you would call them secessionists or not—I mean those people in Virginia with whom I associate) express a hope that the country may not be led into a war.
Question. In such an event, do you not think that many of that class of persons whom I call secessionists would join the common enemy?
Answer. It is possible. It depends upon the feelings of the individual.
Question. If it is a fair question, (you may answer it, or not, as you choose,) what, in such an event, might be your own choice?
Answer. I have no disposition now to do it, and I never have had.
Question. And you cannot foresee that such would be your inclination in such an event?
Answer. No. I can only judge by the past. I do not know what circumstances may produce. I cannot pretend to foresee events. So far as I know the feeling of the people of Virginia, they wish for peace.
Question. During the civil war, was it not contemplated by the government of the confederacy to form an alliance with some foreign nation, if possible?
Answer. I believe it was their wish to do so if they could. It was their wish so have the confederate government recognized as an independent government. I have no doubt that, if it could have made favorable treaties, it would have done so. But I knew nothing of the policy of the government. I had no hand or part in it. I merely express my own opinion.
Question. The question I am about to put to you you may answer, or not, as you choose: Did you take an oath of fidelity or allegiance to the confederate government?
Answer. I do not recollect having done so; but it is possible that, when I was commissioned, I did. I do not recollect whether it was required. If it was required, I took it; or, if it had been required, I would have taken it; but I do not recollect whether it was or not.
By Mr. Blow:
Question. In reference to the effect of President Johnson’s policy, if it were adopted, would there be anything like a return of the old feeling? I ask that because you used the expression “acquiescing in the result.”
Answer. I believe it would take time for the feelings of the people to be of that cordial nature to the government that they were formerly.
Question. Do you think that their preference for that policy arises from a desire to have peace and good feeling in the country, or from the probability of their regaining political power?
Answer. So far as I know the desire of the people of the south, it is for the restoration of their civil government, and they look upon the policy of President Johnson as the one which would most clearly and most surely re-establish it.
Question. Do you see any change among the poorer classes in Virginia in reference to industry? Are they as much, or more, interested in developing their material interests than they were?
Answer. I have not observed any change. Every one now has to attend to his business for his support.
Question. The poorer classes are generally hard at work, are they?
Answer. So far as I know, they are; I know nothing to the contrary.
Question. Is there any difference in their relations to the colored people—is their prejudice increased or diminished?
Answer. I have noticed no change. So far as I do know the feelings of all the people of Virginia, they are kind to the colored people. I have never heard any blame attributed to them as to the present condition of things, or any responsibility.
Question. There are very few colored laborers employed, I suppose?
Answer. Those who own farms have employed them more or less—one or two. Some are so poor that they have to work themselves.
Question. Can capitalists and workingmen from the north go into any portion of Virginia with which you are familiar and go to work among the people?
Answer. I do not know anything to prevent them. Their peace and pleasure there would depend very much on their conduct. If they confined themselves to their own business, and did not interfere to provoke controversies with their neighbors, I do not believe they would be molested.
Question. There is no desire to keep out labor and capital?
Answer. Not that I know of. On the contrary, they are very anxious to get capital into the State.
Question. Ton see nothing of a disposition to prevent such a thing?
Answer. I have seen nothing, and do not know of anything. As I said before, the manner in which they would be received would depend entirely upon the individuals themselves. They might make themselves obnoxious, as you can understand.
By Mr. Howard:
Question. Is there not a general dislike of northern men among secessionists?
Answer. I suppose they would prefer not to associate with them. I do not know that they would select them as associates.
Question. Do they avoid and ostracise them socially?
Answer. They might avoid them. They would not select them as associates, unless there was some reason for it. I do not know that they would associate with them until they became acquainted. I think it probable they would not admit them into their social circles.
By Mr. Blow:
Question. What is the position of the colored men in Virginia with reference to the persons they work for? Do you think they would prefer to work for northern men or for southern men?
Answer. I think it very probable that they would prefer the northern man, although I have no facts to go upon.
Question. That having been stated very frequently in reference to the cotton States, does it result from a fear of bad treatment on the part of the resident population, or from the idea that they will be more fairly treated by the new-comers? What is your observation in that respect in regard to Virginia?
Answer. 1 have no means of forming an opinion; I do not know any such case in Virginia; I know of numbers of the blacks engaging with their old masters, and I know of a good many who prefer to go off and look for new homes. Whether it is from any dislike of their former masters, or from a desire of change, or that they feel more free and independent, I do not know.
Question. What is your opinion in regard to the material interests of Virginia? Do you think they will be equal to what they were before the rebellion under the changed aspect of affairs?
Answer. It will take a long time for them to reach their former standard. I think that after some years they will reach it, and I hope exceed it; but it cannot be immediately, in my opinion.
Question. It will take a number of years?
Answer. It will take a number of years, I think.
Question. On the whole, the condition of things in Virginia is hopeful, both in regard to its material interests and the future peace of the country?
Answer. I have heard great hope expressed, and there is great cheerfulness and willingness to labor.
Question. Suppose that this policy of President Johnson should be all that you anticipate, and that you should also realize all that you expect in the improvement of your material interests, do you think that the result of that would be the gradual restoration of the old feeling?
Answer. That would be the natural result, I think, and I see no other way in which that result can be brought about.
Question. There is a fear in the public mind that the friends of the policy in the south adopt it because they see in it the means of regaining the political position which they lost in toe recent contest: do you think that that is the main idea with them, or that they really look to it, as you say, as the best means of restoring civil government and the peace and prosperity of their respective States?
Answer. As to the first point you make, I do not know that I ever heard any person speak upon it. I never heard the points separated. I have heard them speak generally as to the effect of the policy of President Johnson. The feeling, so far as I know, now is that there is not that equality extended to the southern States as is enjoyed by the north.
Question. You do not feel down there that while you accept the result, that we are as generous as we ought to be under the circumstances?
Answer. They think that the north can afford to be generous.
Question. That is the feeling down there?
Answer. Yes, and they think it is the best policy—those who reflect upon the subject and are able to judge.
Question. I understand it to be your opinion that generosity and liberality towards the entire south would be the surest means of regaining their good opinion?
Answer. Yes, and the speediest.
By Mr. Howard:
Question. I understood you to say, generally, that you had no apprehension of any combination among the leading secessionists to renew the war, or anything of the kind?
Answer. I have no reason in the world to think so.
Question. Have you heard that subject talked over among any of the politicians?
Answer. No, sir; I have not. I have not heard that matter even suggested.
Question. Let me put another hypothetical state of things: Suppose the executive government of the United States should be held by a President who, like Mr. Buchanan, rejected the right of coercion, so-called, and suppose a Congress should exist here entertaining the same political opinions, thus presenting to the once rebel States the opportunity again to secede from the Union, would they, or not, in your opinion, avail themselves of that opportunity, or some of them?
Answer. I suppose it would depend upon the circumstances existing at the time. If their feelings should remain embittered, and their affections alienated from the rest of the States, I think it very probable they might do so, provided they thought it was to their interest.
Question. Bo yon not think that at the present time there is a deep-seated feeling of dislike towards the government of the United States on the part of the masses of the secessionists?
Answer. I do not know that there is any deep-seated dislike. I think it is probable there may be some animosity still existing among some of the people at the south.
Question. Is there not a deep-seated feeling of disappointment and chagrin at the result of the war?
Answer. I think that, at the time, they were disappointed at the result of the war.
Question. Do you mean to be understood as saying that there is not a condition of discontent against the government of the United States among the secessionists generally?
Answer. I know of none.
Question. Are you prepared to say that they respect the government of the United States and the loyal people of the United States so much, at the present time, as to perform their duties as citizens of the United States and of the States faithfully and well?
Answer. I believe that they will perform all the duties that they are required to perform. I think that is the general feeling, so far as I know.
Question. Do you think that it would be practicable to convict a man in Virginia of treason for having taken part in this rebellion against the government, by a Virginia jury, without packing it with direct reference to a verdict of guilty?
Answer. On that point I have no knowledge, and I do not know what they would con-sider treason against the United States. If you mean past acts—
Mr. Howard. Yes, sir.
Witness. I have no knowledge as to what their views on that subject in the past are.
Question. You understand my question: Suppose a jury was impanelled in your own neighborhood, taken up by lot; would it be practicable to convict, for instance, Jefferson Davis for having levied war upon the United States, and thus having committed the crime of treason?
Answer. I think it is very probable that they would not consider he had committed treason.
Question. Suppose the jury should be dearly and plainly instructed by the court that such an act of war upon the United States, on the part of Mr. Davis, or any other leading man, constituted in itself the crime of treason under the Constitution of the United States; would the jury be likely to heed that instruction, and if the facts were plainly in proof before them, convict the offender?
Answer. I do not know, sir, what they would do on that question.
Question. They do not generally suppose that it was treason against the United States, do they?
Answer. I do not think that they so consider it.
Question. In what light would they view it? What would be their excuse or justification? How would they escape in their own mind? I refer to the past.
Answer. I am referring to the past and as to the feeling they would have. So far as I know, they look upon the action of the State, in withdrawing itself from the government of the United States, as carrying the individuals of the State along with it; that the State was responsible for the act, not the individual.
Question. And that the ordinance of secession, so-called, or those acts of the State which recognized a condition of war between the State and the general government, stood as their justification for their bearing arms against the government of the United States?
Answer. Yes, sir. I think they considered the act of the State as legitimate; that they were merely using the reserved right which they had a right to do.
Question. State, if yon please, (and if you are disinclined to answer the question you need not do so, ) what your own personal views on that question were?
Answer. That was my view; that the act of Virginia, in withdrawing herself from the United States, carried me along as a citizen of Virginia, and that her laws and her acts were binding on me.
Question. And that you felt to be your justification in taking the course you did?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. I have been told, general, that you have remarked to some of your friends in conversation that you were rather wheedled or cheated into that course by politicians?
Answer. I do not recollect making any such remark. I do not think 1 ever made it.
Question. If there be any other matter about which you wish to speak on this occasion, do so freely.
Answer. Only in reference to that last question you put to me. I may have said, and I may have believed, that the position of the two sections which they held to each other was brought about by the politicians of the country; that the great masses of the people, if they understood the real question, would have avoided it; but not that I had been individually wheedled by the politicians.
Question. That is probably the origin of the whole thing?
Answer. I may have said that; but I do not even recollect that. But I did believe at
the time that it was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.
Question. You say that you do not recollect having sworn allegiance and fidelity to the confederate government?
Answer. 1 do not recollect it, nor do I know that it was ever required. I was regularly commissioned in the army of the Confederate States, but I really do not recollect that that oath was required. If it was required, I have no doubt I took it; or if it had been required, I would have taken it.
Question. Is there any other matter which you desire to state to the committee?
Answer. No, sir; I am ready to answer any question which you think proper to put to me.
Question. How would an amendment to the Constitution be received by the secessionists, or by the people at large, allowing the colored people or certain classes of them to exercise the right of voting at elections?
Answer. I think, so far as I can form an opinion, in such an event they would object.
Question. They would object to such an amendment?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Suppose an amendment should, nevertheless, be adopted, conferring on the blacks the right of suffrage, would that, in your opinion, lead to scenes of violence and breaches of the peace between the two races in Virginia?
Answer. I think it would excite unfriendly feelings between the two races. I cannot pretend to say to what extent it would go, but that would be the result.
Question. Are you acquainted with the proposed amendment now pending in the Senate of the United States?
Answer. No, sir; I am not. I scarcely ever read a paper. [The substance of the pro- posed amendment was here explained to the witness by Mr. CONKLING.] So far as I can see, I do not think the State of Virginia would object to it.
Question. Would she consent, under any circumstances, to allow the black people to vote, even if she were to gain a larger number of representatives in Congress?
Answer. That would depend upon her interests. If she had the right of determining that, I do not see why she should object. If it were to her interest to admit these people to vote, that might overrule any other objection that she had to it.
Question. What, in your opinion, would be the practical result? Do you think that Virginia would consent to allow the negro to vote?
Answer. I think that, at present, she would accept the smaller representation. I do not know what the future may develop. If it should be plain to her that these persons will vote properly and understandingly, she might admit them to vote.
By Mr. Blow:
Question. Do you not think it would turn a good deal, in the cotton States, upon the value of the labor of the black people—upon the amount which they produce?
Answer. In a good many States in the south, and in a good many counties in Virginia, if the black people now were allowed to vote, it would, I think, exclude proper representation; that is, proper, intelligent people would not be elected; and rather than suffer that injury they would not let them vote at all.
Question. Do you not think that the question, as to whether any southern State would allow the colored people the right of suffrage in order to increase representation, would depend a good deal on the amount which the colored people might contribute to the wealth of the State in order to secure two things: first, the larger representation, and, second, the influence derived from these persons voting?
Answer. I think they would determine the question more in reference to their opinion as to the manner in which those votes would be exercised, whether they consider those people qualified to vote. My own opinion is, that, at this time, they cannot vote intelligently, and that giving them the right of suffrage would open the door to a great deal of demagogism, and lead to embarrassments in various ways. What the future may prove, how intelligent they may become, with what eyes they may look upon the interests of the State in which they may reside, I cannot say more than you can.
Question. Is there any sympathy felt in the south for those schemes of emigration to Mexico?
Answer. I believe that the masses of the people have not any sympathy with them. There are individuals who think that their interest would be benefited, and, indeed, that their prospects at home are so poor now that it is like losing their lives to remain. That feeling was stronger at the first cessation of hostilities than it is now. At this time it seems to be subsiding.
By Mr. Howard:
Question. I will put one question to you to which you may respond or not, as you please: I wish to inquire whether you had any knowledge, while you were in command at Richmond, of the cruelties practiced towards the Union prisoners at Libby prison and Belle Isle?
Answer. I never knew that any cruelty was practiced, and I have no reason to believe
that it was practiced. I can believe, and I had reason to believe, that privations may have been experienced among the prisoners, because I know that provisions and shelter could not be provided them.
Question. Were you not aware that those prisoners were dying from cold and starvation? Answer. I was not.
Mr. Howard. I desire that you shall speak your mind fully and freely on this subject, for it is useless to conceal from you the fact that those scenes have created a sad feeling in the hearts of the people at the north.
Answer. As regards myself, I never had any control over the prisoners, except those that were captured on the field of battle. Them it was my business to send to Richmond to the proper officer, who was then the provost marshal general. In regard to their disposition afterwards I had no control. I never gave an order about it. It was entirely in the hands of the War Department.
Question. And not in your hands?
Answer. Not in mine.
Question. Did these scenes come at all to your knowledge?
Answer. Never. No report was ever made to me about them; there was no call for any to be made to me. I did hear (it was mere hearsay) that statements had been made to the war department, and that everything had been done to relieve them that could be done; even, finally, so far as to offer to send them to some points (Charleston was one point named) if they would be received by the United States authorities and taken to their homes; but whether that is true or not I do not know; it was merely a report that I heard.
Question. Were you in the same ignorance of the scenes at Andersonville and Salisbury?
Answer. I never knew who commanded at Andersonville until I saw by the papers, after the cessation of hostilities, that Captain Wirz had been arrested on that account, nor do I know now who commanded at Salisbury.
Question. And of course you knew nothing of the scenes of cruelty, about which complaints have been made, at those places?
Answer. Nothing in the world. As I said before, I suppose they suffered from the want of ability on the part of the Confederate States to supply their wants. At the very beginning of the war I knew that there were sufferings of prisoners on both sides, but, as far as I could, I did everything in my power to relieve them, and urged the establishment of the cartel which was established.
By Mr. Blow:
Question. It has been frequently asserted that the confederate soldiers feel more kindly toward the government of the United States than any other portion of the people of the south. What is your observation on that point?
Answer. From the confederate soldiers I have heard no expression of any other opinion. They looked upon the war as a necessary evil and went through it. I have seen them relieve the wants of federal soldiers on the field. The orders always were that the whole field should be treated alike. Parties were sent out to take in the federal wounded as well as the confederate, and the surgeons were told to treat the one as they did the other. These orders have been given by me repeatedly on every field.
Question. Do you think that the good feeling of their part toward the rest of the people has continued since the close of the war?
Answer. I know nothing to the contrary. I made several efforts to exchange the prisoners after the cartel was suspended; I did not know why it was suspended; I do not know to this day which side took the initiative; I knew that there were constant complaints made on both sides; I merely knew it from public rumor. I offered to General Grant, around Richmond, that we should ourselves exchange all the prisoners in our hands. There was a committee from the Christian Association, I think, which reached Petersburg and made an application to me for a passport to visit all the prisons at the south. My letter to them I suppose they have. I told them that I had not that authority; that it could be only obtained from the war department at Richmond, but that neither they nor I could relieve the sufferings of the prisoners; that the only thing to be done for them was to exchange them; and to snow that I would do whatever was in my power, I offered then to send to City Point all the prisoners in Virginia and North Carolina, over which my command extended, provided they returned an equal number of mine, man for man. I reported this to the war department, and received an answer that they would place at my command all the prisoners at the south, if the proposition was accepted. I heard nothing more on the subject.
Question. Has there been any considerable change in the number of the negro population in Virginia during the last four years?
Answer. I suppose it has diminished, but I do not know.
Question. Diminished in consequence of more negroes going south than was made up by the natural increase?
Answer. My general opinion is that the number has diminished, and for the reason yon give.
Question. I suppose that the mass of the negroes in Virginia, at the present time, are able to work; that there are not many helpless ones among them?
Answer. There are helpless ones, certainly, but I do not know to what extent.
Question. What is your opinion about its being an advantage to Virginia to keep them there at all. Do yon not think that Virginia would be better off if the colored population were to go to Alabama, Louisiana, and the other southern States?
Answer. I think it would be better for Virginia if she could get rid of them. That is no new opinion with me. I have always thought so, and have always been in favor of emancipation—gradual emancipation.
Question. As a question of labor alone, do you not think that the labor which would flow into Virginia, if the negroes left it for the cotton States, would be far more advantageous to the State and to its future prosperity?
Answer. I think it would be for the benefit of Virginia, and I believe that everybody there would be willing to aid it.
Question. Do you not think that the State of Virginia is absolutely injured and its future impaired by the presence of the black population there?
Answer. I think it is.
Question. And do you not think it is peculiarly adapted to the quality of labor which would flow into it, from its great natural resources, in case it was made more attractive by the absence of the colored race?
Answer. I do.