The Temptation of Botts


“Botts, Botts,” sighed Abraham Lincoln in April 1861. “I have always been an Old-line Henry Clay Whig, and if your Southern people will let me alone, I will administer this government as nearly upon the principles that he would have administered it as it is possible for one man to follow in the path of another.” [1]

“Botts” (image shown) was John Minor Botts, a Whig from Virginia elected several times to Congress. During the presidential election of 1860, Botts, by then a member of the United States Constitutional Union Party, supported John Bell. (The Constitutional Union Party was the successor of the “Know Nothings.” Millard Fillmore had been the presidential candidate of the “Know Nothings” in 1856.) Although John Bell was not elected in 1860, Botts continued to support the principles of the Constitutional Union party, and was uncompromisingly Unionist in his sentiments while his native state moved toward secession and through the American Civil War, but Botts refused to fight against Virginia. [2]

The New York Times of December 6, 1860 reported, from Richmond, “The Breckinridge Electors, believing that BELL had carried Virginia, magnanimously resigned, whereupon the vote of the State was cast for BELL and EVERETT.” John Minor Botts, reported the New York Times, “has written a letter, which will soon appear, presenting his views as to the policy best calculated to preserve the Union.” (Also in the same New York Times report: “I learn from a well-known English capitalist, just arrived here, that every Englishman whom he had conversed with on the subject of disunion was in ecstasies over the impending ruin which overhangs the Union, and that they hoped to God it would eventually occur.”) [3]

On December 11, 1860, the New York Times declared that the just-published Botts letter “created quite a sensation. It is very generally circulated, and is pronounced patriotic and able. The question is being mooted, if the Union breaks up, whether the policy of New-England and North Eastern New-York will not be at once to establish an independent Confederacy, and build up a Government peculiarly adapted to the capital and manufacturing interests of that section. The proposition rather staggers the Cotton States.” [4]

By February 4, 1861, the New York Times was reporting on how a “proposition for the formation of associations to aid in the development of cotton culture by free labor in Central America and Mexico, attracts considerable attention.” The contemplated “independent Confederacy” of New England and North-Eastern New York might bypass the South by raising cotton with “free labor” (slavery) in Central America and Mexico. [5]

The next day, February 5, 1861, the New York Times reported on an “enthusiastic meeting of Union men” held in Richmond, on the evening of Feb. 1, at which John Minor Botts spoke, “and was received with the heartiest demonstrations of applause.” [6]

Later, in April 1861, Botts met with President Lincoln, who sighed, “Botts, Botts, I have always been an Old-line Henry Clay Whig.” (See above.)

During the ensuing Civil War, John Minor Botts tried to sit out the battle. But, as George W. Bush would say, “If you are not with us, then you are against us.” And thus it was that, in 1862, Botts was jailed without trial for his Unionist positions by the Confederate provost marshal John H. Winder. [2]

The days dragged by. Sad and alone in his prison cell, John Minor Botts thought back on his life. All seemed lost. It was at this low ebb that Satan, in the form of one “Captain Alexander,” entered Bottses dismal abode.

“Ah, Botts, Botts,” purred Captain Alexander (Satan). “What a shame that a man such as you should be confined in such a hole as this. But Botts, only say that you will accept it, and I will bring you a commission of Brigadier General in the Confederate Army in half an hour, and by to-morrow morning at this time you shall be placed at the head of ten thousand men.” [1]

(“…the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” — Matthew 4: 8-9)

Here was temptation! Botts pondered a moment, then replied, “Do you know what would be the first thing I would do?”

“No,” smirked Captain Alexander. “What would you do?”

With much vehemence Botts replied, “Before the sun went down, I would hang every scoundrel of you from Jefferson Davis down to you!”

Captain Alexander cackled nervously, then slunk away. [7]

(The above first appeared at my Melchizedek Communique web site on June 9, 2011.)

——- Notes ——-
[1] Botts, John Minor. The Great Rebellion. New York, NY: Harper & Bros., 1866
[2] “John Botts”, Wikipedia, June 8, 2011
[3] “In Virginia.; The Electoral Vote Cast For Bell–The English And Secession–Letter From Mr. Botts”,
New York Times, December 6, 1860
[4] “The National Crisis”, New York Times, December 11, 1860
[5] “Important From Washington”, New York Times, February 4, 1861
[6] “General Political Intelligence”, New York Times, February 5, 1861
[7] Redman, Brian. What Would Millard Do?. Published by, 2009. Also available as a Kindle e-book.


About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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  1. Pingback: Murdered Whig Presidents | Ersjdamoo's Blog

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