Stephen Riggs urges temperance in dealing with the Dakota prisoners

Excerpt of letter from Stephen Riggs to President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 17, 1862

"My long connection with these Indians and personal acquaintance with many of those who are condemned, would naturally lead me to desire that no greater punishment should be inflicted upon them than is required by justice. But knowing the excited state of this part of the country -- the indignation which is felt against the whole Indian people in consequence of these murders and outrages -- this indignation being often unreasonable and wicked, venting itself on the innocent as well as the guilty -- knowing this I feel that a great necessity is upon us to execute the great majority of those who have been condemned by the Military Commission. This is required as a satisfaction to the demands of public justice. It is required also as a guaranty of safety to the women and children and the few men who in the great uprising proved themselves loyal to our government and people. Having said this I may say also that I think there is room for the exercise of your clemency. Among those condemned there are various grades of guilt from the men who butchered women and children to the men who simply followed with a party for the purpose of taking away spoils from the homes of settlers who had fled."

Abraham Lincoln Papers (Library of Congress), translated and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

Memories of War U.S. Military Non-Combatants Dakota "Peace Party" Dakota Soldiers