Kentucky’s Vichy Government
Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin replied to Lincoln’s illegal request for troops in April 1861 with “I will send not a man nor a dollar for the wicked purpose of subduing my sister Southern States.” His State government tried in vain to maintain neutrality while he personally championed a peaceful settlement between North and South, and acceptance of the Crittenden Compromise proposed by fellow Kentuckian, John J. Crittenden. With the increasing number of Northern troops in his State and the consequent political intimidation, he was forced from office in favor of a Lincoln-appointed military proconsul. By waging war against a State and adhering to its enemies, Lincoln committed treason as defined in Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
Kentucky’s Vichy Government
“On August 18, 1861, a meeting was held in Scott County, Ky., of a number of prominent Democrats; and after a full discussion of the situation, it was determined to send commissioners to Washington and Richmond, with a view to ascertaining, if possible, whether the neutrality of Kentucky would be respected by both sides.
Upon the recommendations of this conference, Governor Magoffin appointed Frank K. Hunt and W.A. Dudley, both Union men, as commissioners to Washington, and George W. Johnson commissioner to Richmond.
In the letter to President [Jefferson] Davis sent in response to that written him by Governor Magoffin, an borne by Mr. Johnson, appears the following language, which certainly very logically and properly summed up the situation:
“The government of the Confederate States has not only respected most scrupulously the neutrality of Kentucky, but has continued to maintain the friendly relation of trade and intercourse which it has suspended with the United States generally. But neutrality, to be entitled to respect, must be strictly maintained by both parties . . .”
Mr. Lincoln replied that he did not believe that it was “the popular wish of Kentucky that the Federal force already there should be removed, and with this impression I must decline to remove it.”
This declaration made it plain to men of all shades of political opinion in Kentucky that the occupation of the State by Federal troops would be continued, and that their number would be increased, not only to completely suppress any sentiment in favor of the Confederacy and action taken in that behalf, but in order to make Kentucky a base of military operations against the States further South.
In a very short time after this declaration by Mr. Lincoln, numerous arrests were made of Kentuckians of known Southern sympathies, or of prominent men who ventured even to question the legality of the aggressive acts committed by Union leaders.
George W. Johnson was one of the first and boldest to denounce such tyranny. He escaped arrest by quitting his home and seeking the Tennessee border within a few hours before the soldiers who were ordered to make him a prisoner arrived at his house.”
(Reminiscences of General Basil W. Duke, CSA, Cooper Square Press, 2001 (original 1911), excerpts, pp. 148-149)