July 21, 1863: Grant recommends caution on trade

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant had been suspicious of war profiteers for some time, and had gotten in some trouble over a clumsy effort to suppress their activities. Here he once again admonishes the government to be cautious about allowing trade with the newly conquered Mississippi valley.

Official Records:


HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENN., Vicksburg, July 21, 1863.
Honorable SALMON P. CHASE,
Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D. C.:

Your letter of the 4th instant to me, inclosing copy of letter of same date to Mr. Mellen, special agent of the Treasury, is just received. My assistant adjutant-general, by whom I shall send this letter, is about starting for Washington; hence I shall be very short in my reply. My experience in WEST Tennessee has convinced me that any trade whatever with the rebellious States is weakening to us of at least 33 percent. of our force. No matter what the restriction thrown around trade, if any whatever is allowed it will be made the means of supplying to the enemy all they want. Restrictions, if lived up to, make trade unprofitable, and hence none but dishonest men go into it. I will venture that no honest man has made money in WEST Tennessee in the last year, whilst many fortunes have been made there during the time.

The people in the Mississippi Valley are now nearly subjugated. Keep trade out but for a few months, and I doubt not but that the work of subjugation will be so complete that trade can be opened freely with the States of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi; that the people of these States will be more anxious for the enforcement and protection of our laws than the people of the loyal States. They have experienced the misfortunes of being without them, and are now in a most happy condition to appreciate the blessings. No theory of my own will ever stand in the way of my executing in good faith any order I may receive from those in authority over me, but my position his given me an opportunity of seeing what could not be known by persons away from the scene of war, and I suggest, therefore, great caution in opening trade with rebels.

U. S. GRANT.

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