Executive Mansion, Washington, June 10, 1863.
Messrs. E. E. Mathiot, Bradish Johnston, and Thomas Cottman:
Your letter, which follows, has been received and considered:
To his Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States:
The undersigned, a committee appointed by the planters of the State of Louisiana, respectfully represent that they have been delegated to seek of the General Government a full recognition of all the rights of the State as they existed previous to the passage of an act of secession, upon the principle of the existence of the State Constitution unimpaired, and no legal act having transpired that could in any way deprive them of the advantages conferred by the Constitution.
Under this Constitution the State wishes to return to its full allegiance, in the enjoyment of all rights and privileges exercised by the other States under the Federal Constitution. With the view of accomplishing the desired object, we further request that your Excellency will, as Commander-in-Chief of the army of the United States, direct the Military Governor of Louisiana to order an election, in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the State, on the first Monday of November next, for all State and Federal officers.
With high consideration and respect, we have tho honor to subscribe ourselves your obedient servants,
E. E. Mathiot,
Since receiving the letter reliable information has reached me that a respectable portion of the Louisiana people desire to amend their State Constitution, and contemplate holding a Convention for that object. This fact alone, as it seems to me, is a sufficient reason why the general Government should not give the committee the authority you seek, to act under the existing State Constitution. I may add, that while I do not perceive how such a Committal could facilitate our military operations in Louisiana, I really apprehend it might be so used as to embarrass them.
As to an election to be held next November, there is abundant time without any order or proclamation from me just now. The people of Louisiana shall not lack an opportunity for a fair election for both Federal and State officers by want of any thing within my power to give them.
Your obedient servant,