RICHMOND, VA., April 9, 1865.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
On Friday evening I asked Weitzel incidentally what he was going to do about opening the churches on Sunday. He answered that all were to be allowed to be opened on condition that no disloyalty should be uttered and that the Episcopal ministers would be required to read the prayer for the President of the United States. I told him this was all right. Last evening he sent Shepley to me to ask that this order might be relaxed, so that the clergy would only be required not to pray for Jeff. Davis. Shepley said this was what had been determined on by General Weitzel before I gave orders to the contrary. I answered I had given no orders at all, having received none from Washington, and that Weitzel must act in the matter entirely on his own judgment. It appears that Judge Campbell thought it very desirable that a loyal prayer should not be exacted, and that Weitzel had consented to it; but when I asked him the question, for some unexplained reason, he gave me an answer opposite to the reality. I report the fact, confessing that it shakes a good deal my confidence in Weitzel. Weather fine.
C. A. DANA,
Washington, D.C., April 9, 1865—8 p.m.
Major-General Weitzel, Richmond.
It has just been reported to this Department that you have, at the instance of Mr. Campbell, consented that service should be performed in the Episcopal churches of Richmond to-day without the usual prayer said in loyal churches of that denomination for the President of the United States, and that you have even agreed to waive that condition. If such has been your action it is strongly condemned by this Department. As I am unwilling to believe that a general officer of the United States, commanding in Richmond, would consent to such an omission of respect to the President of the United States, you are directed immediately to report by telegraph your action in relation to religious services in Richmond, and the prayer for the President in Episcopal churches, and also to state what took place between you and Mr. Campbell on the subject. You are, moreover, directed to hold no further conference with Mr. Campbell on any subject without specific authority, to be given by the President or this Department; but if he desires to make any communication to you it must be in writing, and transmitted by you to this Department for instructions.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
RICHMOND, VA., April 10, 1865—4 p.m.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
Telegram respecting omission of prayer just received. Permission was given to open all the churches yesterday on the general condition that no disloyal sentiments should be uttered. No special authority was given to omit the prayer for the President, but it was distinctly understood that that prayer would not be said in the Episcopal churches. As I have already reported, Weitzel is of opinion that this prayer should be required of all those denominations of whose service it forms a regular part, but on the urgent advice of Shepley, military governor, and Brevet Brigadier-General Ripley, he did not give a positive order enforcing it. In bringing about this result, as I was informed by Shepley, the influence of Campbell was exerted, but I now learn that he had no interview with Weitzel upon the subject, but with Shepley alone. Weitzel’s decision not to give a positive order was also in a great measure the result of the President’s verbal direction to him, to let them down easy. Shepley also adduced in favor of his advice the examples of New Orleans, Norfolk, and Savannah, in all of which places, as he said, the rule was not at first enforced. I cannot learn that the prayer for the President was said in any church, though it is reported to me that in all the Episcopal churches, while the President was omitted from the prayer, the words “all of those in authority” were included..
C. A. DANA,
Assistant Secretary of War.
RICHMOND, VA., April 10, 1865.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
The orders in relation to religious services in Richmond were verbal, and were applicable alike to all religious denominations, without distinction of sect. They were, in substance, that no expression would be allowed in any part of any church service, in the form of prayer, preaching, or singing, which in any way implies a recognition of any other authority than that of the United States, or gave any countenance to the rebellion. The clergy were notified that any prayers for the rebel Government or officials, or for the success of the rebellion, would be considered as treason, and punished as such. As in the ritual in use in the Episcopal churches here there was a form of prayer for the rebel authorities they were ordered to omit it. No orders were given as to what would be preached or prayed for, but only as to what would not be permitted. Neither in New Orleans, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, or any other captured city, as I have been informed, have the Episcopal churches been ordered at first to adopt the form of prayer for the President of the United States. Do you desire that I should order this form of prayer to be used in the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Hebrew, and other churches where they have a prescribed liturgy and form of prayer? I have had personally but three interviews with Judge Campbell—two of them in the presence of, and the other by the written command of, the President of the United States. In neither of these interviews was any question discussed in relation to church or prayers. Those interviews were all held with a view to attain a certain result, and to attain this result I was advised by the President to make concessions in small matters. The above was done in accordance with this advice. The autograph order from the President, which I now have, compels me to hold conference with Judge Campbell on a certain subject. The surrender of Lee’s army removes the necessity for further conference. Shall I stop it? The Rev. Green Clay Smith has just called on me, and says that in the Episcopal church which he attended prayers were offered for those in authority. Similar prayers, I am told, were offered in other Episcopal churches, and all present understood them to refer to our Government.
In the course I have pursued, by following the advice of the President, I have intended to show him the greatest respect, instead of any disrespect. One of my staff conferred with Mr. Dana, the Assistant Secretary, and distinctly understood him to authorize and sanction my course upon this subject.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE JAMES,
Richmond, Va., April 28, 1865.
Major-General Ord, Commanding, &c.
General—Churches which have been closed in Richmond on account of a refusal by the officiating clergyman to read the prescribed prayer for the President of the United States, will be opened for service by any other clergyman of the same denomination who will read Such service.
H. W. HALLECK,
RICHMOND, VA., April 29, 1865.
Major-General Halleck, Commanding.
General—The undersigned have received your order of Friday, 28th, in relation to the opening of churches in this city. In reply they respectfully state that they do not refuse to use the prayer for the President of the United States, as might perhaps be inferred from your order. They have only delayed their action because they confidently hoped to communicate with their ecclesiastical superiors and receive their sanction, according to the general usage of the church. Having endeavored in vain to reach the bishop, either by letter or message (owing to the remoteness of his residence), knowing it to be impossible to assemble a church council to insert a prayer not now in our authorized liturgy, and yet recognizing it as a scriptural duty to pray for those in authority, we had already determined to assume the responsibility, and without waiting another week for ecclesiastical sanction, to offer prayer for the President of the United States. We make this statement as due to you and to ourselves, that our position as members of a strictly religious organization may be fully understood.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
Rector of the Monumental Church.
Rector of Saint James’ Church.
F. M. BAKER,
Rector of Grace Church.