[1864–1865 Baltimore, Maryland Civil War Manuscript 11-Page Draft Document concerning the U.S. Presidential Election of 1864 and a Disloyal, Confederate Sympathizer in Maryland].
Baltimore grand jury indictment alleging perjury to election judges by “a wicked and disloyal” rebel with secessionist sympathies
Intriguing 11-page draft manuscript indictment by jurors in Baltimore alleging perjury to and contempt of election judges and disloyalty to the federal and state governments during the Civil War. There are references in the indictment to “Secessionists and Secession-Sympathisers.”
The draft of the grand jury indictment refers to a specific incident in the 2nd Precinct, 14th ward of Baltimore on November 8, 1864. This was the date of the U.S. Presidential (Abraham Lincoln vs. Gen. George McClellan) and Maryland state elections. The document, however, consistently leaves the name of the defendant blank.
Under questioning by the election judges, Jacob Deems, Samuel H. Lyeth, and William Parsons, the defendant is alleged to have lied about being loyal to the United States. The words “Confederate” or “Confederacy” are never used in the indictment, the jurors refusing to dignify the rebel imposture.
And the Jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present That upon the said examination instituted and made aforesaid [by the election judges] touching the qualifications and right of him the said__________to vote and poll at the said Election… Whether he the said__________has ever in conversation attempted to Justify the course…[or] rebellious conduct and action of the States (that is to say certain States of the United States commonly called the Southern States) in rebellion… And Whether he…had at any time during the Insurrection aforesaid in conversation discouraged the cause of the Federal Government in its conflict… And Whether he…had at any time…rejoiced over the defeat of arms or measures…of the Federal Government. ...and intending and devising to deceive and impose upon the aforesaid Judges of election and to vote and pole then and there in violation of the Constitution and laws of this State did…falsely willfully wickedly and corruptly answer say depose and swear in substance and to the effect following I (meaning he the said__________[)] have never so done. (pp[3–5])
Despite the defendant’s denials of perjury and disloyalty, the grand jury decided that he did, in fact—since the first day of the Civil War, April 15, 1861 until election day 1864, justify “rebellious conduct,” discourage “the cause of the Federal Government in its conflict with the Insurrection,” and rejoice “over the defeat of arms and measures of the Federal Government.” (pp[7–8])
The indictment further cites three specific dates in 1862 when the defendant discouraged the Federal cause in conversation with those “...commonly called Secessionists and Secession-Sympathisers…” in Baltimore. (p)
The document makes a reference to the Maryland Constitution of 1864 which went into effect on November 1, 1864, just one week before the election and the defendant’s alleged perjury. This constitution abolished slavery in Maryland and was quite controversial.
Despite widespread fear and opposition to emancipation in Maryland, the forces of transformation that were unleashed during the war were too powerful for many traditionalists and conservatives to resist. Although it is said that “soldiering provided the acid that dissolved slavery in the state,” the new state Constitution settled this matter once and for all. When the document came up for a vote in the fall of 1864, the divisions among the state’s residents were never more apparent. While some secessionists were willing to risk perjury and take the oath of allegiance in order to weigh in on this issue, most were excluded from the franchise.¹
The present defendant appears to have been quite willing to perjure himself.
The indictment is not signed nor are any of the jurors named. A note at the end says “The State’s Att[orne]y &c.” and there is a docket note, perhaps an attorney’s fee for drawing up or a clerks fee for recording the indictment: “Costs 3.75 cts.”
A most unusual document.
Description: [1864–1865 Baltimore, Maryland Civil War Manuscript 11-Page Draft Document concerning the U.S. Presidential Election of 1864 and a Disloyal, Confederate Sympathizer in Maryland].
Baltimore, Maryland, 1864–1865. pp. Indictment. Three bifoliums; docketed on verso. Some emendations and corrections; name of defendant left blank throughout. Folds; short tears at some folds; brief toning not affecting legibility; very good.
Note. 1. Floyd, Maryland Women in the Civil War (Charleston, S.C., 2013).