Edward Bates - Lincoln's Attorney General

Edward Bates - Lincoln's Attorney General Visual Arts American History Social Studies Nineteenth Century Life

Edward Bates served as Abraham Lincoln's attorney general until he stepped away from the position in 1864. 

When Lincoln died, Bates wrote the following in his diary:

...besides a deep sense of the calamity which the nation has sustained, my private feelings are deeply moved by the sudden murder of my chief with and under whom I have served the country, through many difficult and trying scenes, and always with mutual sentiments of respect and friendship.  I mourn his fall, both for the country and for myself.

Despite his deep sense of loss, Bates did not agree that the conspiracy defendants should be tried by a Military Commission.  Even if they were guilty, he reasoned, "half the world" would look upon them as "martyrs" if they did not receive due process during their trial.

Media Credits

Image of Edward Bates, Attorney General, online courtesy Library of Congress.


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