In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to William W. Belknap, 6 September 1871

Date: September 6, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.03318

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Anthony Dreesen

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Sept. 6, 1871.

Hon. W. W. Belknap,

Secretary of War.


In the defence of suits in the Court of Claims, it sometimes becomes important to use as evidence papers which are found in the rebel archives now under control of the War Department. Such papers as original tenders of service to what was called the Confederate Government, and original subscriptions to cotton loans to that Government, are instances. In order to make them useful in the court it is necessary that they should be exhibited to witnesses who can testify to their genuineness. As testimony in such cases is taken by depositions, it is important, in order to make the testimony available, that the original paper should be attached to the deposition of witnesses. Aware of the importance of preserving these papers, I reluctantly request any disposition of them attended with the slightest risk. But it seems to be necessary for the protection of the Government against fraudulent claims, that they should be used as I have indicated. In the present perfection of the photographic art, fac-similes of the papers can be preserved—and this, in the event of the loss of the originals, will answer future historical, and perhaps other purposes. I will promise, moreover that every precaution which the nature of the case demands, will be used by this Department for the preservation of the originals.

I therefore have the honor to request that when such original papers are wanted by the Assistant Attorney General having in charge the representation of the Government in the Court of Claims, you will let him have them—this Department agreeing in every case to replace the original by a photographic fac-simile, before it is sent from Washington, and also to return the original to the War Department as soon as it shall have done its office in court.

Very respectfully, &c.

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

p 215
request for papers from Rebel archives.


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