Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary, of the Navy.
DEAR SIR: As many persons who come well recommended for loyalty and service to the Union cause, and who are refugees from rebel oppression in the State of Virginia, make application to me for authority and permission to remove their families and property to protection within the Union lines by means of our armed gunboats on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, you are hereby requested to hear and consider all such applications and to grant such assistance to this class of persons as in your judgment their merits may render proper and as may in each case be consistent with the perfect and complete efficiency of the naval service and with military expediency.
Abraham Lincoln, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203088