[Faust OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.] New York, August 4, 1865.
Two subjects of commanding interest have been brought pro- minently to public attention here within the past few days. One is the degree and the kind of interference which the Government is justified in exerting in the internal affairs of the States lately under rebel rule. This subject is hedged about and penetrated with difficulties which can hardly be appreciated by any person not intimately acquainted with the public affairs and the people of the whole country, and which I frankly confess make me slow to undertake its presentation in the columns of the Spectator. The present case in point is a recent election for city officers in Richmond. The election was as purely a local affair as possible ; and according to any existing law, national or local, or any pro- clamation of the President, or military order, the Richmond people had a right to elect for mayor, and other city officers, any one of their fellow-citizens who was not excluded from the benefits of the amnesty proclamation, or who having been ex- cluded had received special pardon, and who had taken the oath of allegiance. Upon the holding of the election it proved not only that the mayor and nearly all the other officers elected had been notoriously prominent supporters of the rebellion, but that they had been chosen especially on that ground. Whereupon General Turner, the military officer commanding the city, issued an order declaring the election null and void. A Russian officer in Poland could have done no more unless he had knouted the elect for having the audacity to be chosen. I am obliged to admit this, although I need hardly say that I have no particular sympathy with the gentlemen who were thus elected. It is possible that the maintenance of the authority of the Government requires that for some time to come the- people of the States lately in rebellion should be held under stern military rule, and that they should be told that so long as they manage their local affairs in a manner and through instrinnents entirely acceptable to the President and Congress, their arrangements will not be disturbed, but that as soon as their proceedings have in the judgment of Wash- ington a dangerous look, they will be quashed by the strong aria of military power. This, however, has not yet been said. The President has told them, in effect, and he did so at first with the general approval of the whole country, that they were at liberty to go to the work of re-organizing themselves as self-governing communities immediately, re-electing their State and other local officers, and making such changes in their local laws as their new condition rendered necessary, and returning as rapidly and as completely as possible to their condition before the war, minus slavery ; and that they could, do this trammelled by only one proviso—loyalty to the Republic and obedience to all its laws and to the orders of its executive officers. This done, how- ever sore the Southern people might feel at their subjugation, and whatever their " sentiments " on public questions or their per- sonal preferences, peace would be established, military rule might be withdrawn, and prosperity would begin to efface present wretchedness and desolation. According to the political consti- tution of society here the Government has no right to ask any more than this, and if because these conditions are not complied with, or for any other reason, however good and imperative, it becomes necessary to continue arbitrary military rule at the South, or to dictate, or even attempt to modify the course of the Southern people in regard to their local affairs, the process is one, not of re-organization according to our recognized system, but of disor- ganization,—one of revolution in fact, and revolution which has its source and motive power from without. Now to peaceful change, however radical in its nature, when effected by those directly concerned in it, we have no objection whatever, but from revolution by force we shrink with a dread which can hardly be overrated, from a revolution effected by a force applied from with- out almost with horror. There is hardly any political good which we could bring ourselves to accept through such means, except in such an extremity as we have net yet even approached. Therefore, although there are some people among us, intelligent, thoughtful, and honest, who believe that it is not prudent yet to admit the communities lately in rebellion to the exercise of any political power whatever, even in the merest local affairs, a much larger number, equally intelligent, thoughtful, and honest, to whom are to be added the great mass, who although they are intelligent and honest cannot be called thoughtful, and who are guided by a kind of political instinct, believe that the only safe and sure, and even the only speedy way of re-organizing and regenerating the South is by doing it from within,—and these are for admitting the people of the late rebel States immediately to the exercise of all political rights in the national Government and in their local affairs, sub- ject only to the disabilities laid upon them by the law and the President's proclamations. Those who adopt this view believe that the attempt to impose measures, however wise and good they may be essentially, upon the Southern people by force, will fail of attaining its end by reason of the means employed, and that the only result will be confusion, violence, the perpetuation of enmity, and the establishment of a military despotism over half the country. Those who take the former -view sustain General Turner's order ; those who are of the latter opinion think that it was unwise, and that he should have waited before interfering until the City Government placed in power by this election had adopted a reactionary or a rebellious policy, if it were elected for that purpose, and not have suppressed it by a stroke of the pen on account of the past condoned deeds and present sympathies of its members. The view of the question involved in this ease is taken by people so "radical" upon the other great question in the problem of re-organization, that they would give immediately full political privileges to all the negroes in the Southern States. No one who knows the people of those States can fail to see that if admitted at once to the manage- ment of their local affairs and to their place in the national Govern- ment, their local legislatures, and their delegates to Congress will be in the main composed of men who were secessionists at heart, if not active in the rebellion. It is equally clear that in this event there will be an attempt by these Southern representatives and a body— it can hardly yet be called a party—at the North, to form a co- alition which possibly may be strong enough to obtain control of the Government. The answer made to this objection is, that such a combination is possible, but it cannot be helped, and what is more, it ought not to be prevented except by moral means. We
have not the right to control the political action of men who respect the Government and obey the laws. Bad as such a com- bination would be, it would be not so bad as a revolution in local affairs enforced by a standing army, or as universal suffrage at the South after the fashion of that which placed Louis Napoleon upon the throne.
The probable movement of political parties is seen so clearly that it has already become the subject of comment by correspon- dents-of the minor newspapers. I found in a Cincinnati paper a letter touching this question professing to have been written by one Petroleum V. Nasby, who describes himself as " lait Paster uv the Church uv the Noo Dispensashun." The reverend gentleman thus opens his letter :—
"1 hey bin in Washintou, and while ther I wuz intordoost to Gineral Marion Sumpter Fitzhoo Gusher, uv Mississippy. I wuz anxious 2 meet with a Representativ Dimekrat uv the South, 2 interchange views, to hey soothin contldencis, to unbuzzum, becoz for the past 4 yeers the Dimekmtik party hez bin trooly seckshnal, and the seckshtm it has okkepied is not the identikle aeckshun onto *rich the orflses is lokatid, and only by a perfock union with our wunst-loved brethren tiv the South, kin we ever git onto trooly Nashnel ground."
You see by this exactly the stripe of the Reverend Petroleum's cloth, and you will probably not be surprised that General Gusher unbosoms himself very freely to such a sympathizing friend. From a long letter I quote these paragraphs. Gusher loquitur
"I, and I speak for thousands uv the shivelrous suns uv the south who would like a good square meal wunst more, am willin to be con- siliatid. The oppertoonity is now offered the Guverment to consiliato us. We are returnin prodygle sons—kill yoor fattid veel and bring out yoor gold rings and purple robes and Bich. We ask condishns—we shel insist on terms, but we air disposed to be reasonable. We air willin to acknoledgo the soopremacy uv the Guyerment, but there must be no humiliashen. A proud, high-spireted people like us uns, won't stand it —no, sir, we can not. Thor must be no hangin, no conlIsticashen, no disfranohisin. We are willin to stop back jest oz we stept out, resoomin our old status, trustin to ongineerin to git sech uther pints ez air not here enootneratid. Without them conclishns the union wood not be wan uv hart—twood be holler mockery. \Vat we are goin for is a union fottndid on lily, wish is strongerer and more solider than muskits. Harts is trumps—let the platform be harts and all is well.'—'But Gineral,' sex I, 'in all this wat do yoo perpose for us northern Dimocrats ? To- wards them our bowils melt with luv. We forgive yoo. Ef yoo kin take the old attitood, well and good—el not—'"
The "lit paster " explains that all the Northern Democrats want are the small offices, and the General replies :—
" Uv course them positions yoo kin hey—we don't want em. All we ask is to make the platforms, and hey sich offisis ez hawty, high-toned men kin afford 2 take, and yoo uns kin hey the rest.'" The account of this touching interview thus concludes, the General being again the principal speaker :— " Ez soon ez I hey took the oath, I shol immejitly go hunt and run for Congris—see to it that yes hey enuff Dimocrats thor that we, jintly, kin control things. Uv coarse, in a Union uv lay, tiler must be equality. Linkin's war debt must never be pade, onless ourn is—his hirelins must never be pensioned unless our patriots is. Wat a deliteful spoktaclel ! Men who, yesterday, wits a gougin eech other onto the feeld of battle, to-day a drawin penshuns amikably, from the same treasury! The Eagle wood flop his wings with goy, and angels wood exclaim+, Bully!' I am dis- abled from wounds received on the feold, and rejoice that our penshun laws is so libral. 'Go home, my frend, and marshol fer the conflict. Tell yoor control committis to collect expense mutiny, and I, and Ginral Forist, and Kernel Moseby, and Champ Ferguson, and Dick Turner, and Boregard, and perhaps that noble old hero (take on yoor hat while' I pernounce his gellorus name,) Ginral Robert E. Lee, will cum up and stump the North fer yoor tikits. I hey dun. I go. 'Noble man,' thot I, ez he stalkt magestically away, takin, in a abstractin manner, my new hat and umbroller, leavin his old wuns, who coodent feller thee, and sich ez thee, forever and forever.'"
Mr. Nasby has painted a very faithful picture. The Gushers are willing to resume their old status, " trustin to engineerin to git sech other pints ez air not here enoomerated," and the Nasbys are willing to be forgiven. Our safety is only in the fact that the Gushers are fewer and the Nasbys vastly fewer than they were five years ago, and that the war has freed some millions of white as well as of black slaves, upon whose debased condition the Southern oligarchy rested. We may be sure that the freedom of neither has been won in vain, but to look for an immediate appreciation and right use of the great gift in either case would be un- reasonable.
The other subject to which I referred, and which has a very lively interest for us, although I suppose that you have heard more
than enough of it, is the treatment of our soldiers at the stockade prison at Andersonville. Captain Wertz, who was superintendent of the prison, is now a prisoner himself in the hands of the Government, and is about to be tried before a military commis- sion, and very properly so tried, considering the nature of the offence. The case naturally calls out much comment, and Cap- tain Wertz's counsel have published a letter, in which they beg a suspension of public judgment against their client in advance of proofs, which they say will exonerate him from all responsibility for "any atrocities which may have been perpetrated upon Union prisoners," which they "neither expect to extenuate nor to justify," and they thereupon protest against "trying the Southern Con- federation in the person of Captain Wertz." Simultaneously with this letter, which seems to be a pretty plain confession of the cruelties, and an admission that they were inflicted in virtue of superior orders, appears one from a Georgian planter, a Union man, who lived near Andersonville, which gives a long detailed account of what he knew of the frightful doings there. Not to weary my readers with the subject, this letter confirms in every particu- lar the accounts previously published. Such deliberate and bar- barous cruelty would be incredible of civilized people, were it not for the concurrent testimony to it from all quarters. The gentle- man who writes this letter is not known to me personally, but I know his family well. They are people of high respectability and social position, and his father was, twenty-five years ago, a Cabinet Minister. I myself have had the same story told me by two young men, British subjects—one English, the other a Canadian Scotchman—who served in our army, and who were taken prisoner, one of them having been kept six months in this prison. One of them mentioned, for instance, that he had seen men staggering about in the evening, starved with cold and hunger, naked except for a bit of blanket, almost idiotic with wretchedness, and in the morning found them dead and frozen to the ground, which was so damp as to be muddy. The winter was unusually cold, and although there was plenty of wood near, General Winder and Captain Wertz would not let the men go under guard to cut it and build themselves cabins. Remember that this is not the evidence of A YANKEE.