In Norfolk there was a society called “Perfectionists,” and in their behalf some ten or twelve of them addressed a letter to the Commanding General of that department, setting forth their objections to swearing allegiance to any earthly government. The subject was disposed of by Gen. Butler in the following characteristic manner:
HEADQUARTERS OF EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
FORT MONROE, VA., January 13, 1864.
J. F. Dozier, E. H. Beaseley, and others:
GENTLEMEN: I have read your petition to Gen. Barnes, setting forth your objections to swearing allegiance to any earthly government.
The first reason which you set forth is that “all human governments are a necessary evil, and are continued in existence only by the permission of Jehovah until the time arrives for the establishment of his kingdom, and in the establishment of which all others will be subdued unto it, thus fulfilling that declaration in the eighth of Daniel, fourteenth verse,” &c.
You therein establish to your own satisfaction three points:
First. That government, although an evil, is a necessary one. Second. That for a time it is permitted to exist by the wisdom of Jehovah. Third. That the time at which a period is to be put to its existence is not come.
Therefore you ought to swear allegiance to the government of the United States:
First. Because though an evil, you admit it to be necessary. Second. Although an evil, you admit that it is permitted by the wisdom of Jehovah, and that it is not for his creatures to question the wisdom of his acts. Third. You only claim to be excused when Jehovah’s government is instituted, which period, you admit, has not yet arrived.
Your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER.