Grover Cleveland

Executive Order

April 30, 1887



Secretary of War.

SIR: I have the honor to state that there are now in this office, stored in one of the attic rooms of the building, a number of Union flags captured in action, but recovered on the fall of the Confederacy and forwarded to the War Department for safe-keeping, together with a number of Confederate flags which the fortunes of war placed in our hands during the late Civil War.

While in the past favorable action has been taken on applications properly supported for the return of Union flags to organizations representing survivors of the military regiments in the service of the Government, I beg to submit that it would be a graceful act to anticipate future requests of this nature, and venture to suggest the propriety of returning all the flags (Union and Confederate) to the authorities of the respective States in which the regiments which bore these colors were organized, for such final disposition as they may determine.

While in all the civilized nations of the world trophies taken in war against foreign enemies have been carefully preserved and exhibited as proud mementos of the nation's military glories, wise and obvious reasons have always excepted from the rule evidences of past internecine troubles which by appeals to the arbitrament of the sword have disturbed the peaceful march of a people to its destiny.

Over twenty years have elapsed since the termination of the late Civil War. Many of the prominent leaders, civil and military, of the late Confederate States are now honored representatives cf the people in the national councils, or in other eminent positions lend the aid of their talents to the wise administration of affairs of the whole country; and the people of the several States composing the Union are now united, treading the broader road to a glorious future.

Impressed with these views, I have the honor to submit the suggestion made in this letter for the careful consideration it will receive at your hands.

Very truly, yours,




Grover Cleveland, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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