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Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 (Volume 4) online

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of the Confederacy was refused by (ireat Britain in the tall of 18»i2, the refusal was
excused on the ground that any action by Her Majesty's (iovernment would have
the effect of inflaming the passions of the belligerents and of preventing the return

Nov. 7, 1864. ] SENATE. 255

of peace. It is assumed that this opinion was sincerely entertained, but the experi-
ence of two years of unequaled carnage shows that it was erroneous, and that the
resuU was the reverse of what the British ministry humanely desired. A contrary
policy, a policy just to us, a policy diverging from an unvarying course of concession
to all tlie demands of our enemies, is still within the power of Her Majesty's Govern-
ment, and would, it is fair to presume, be productive of consequences the opposite of
those which have unfortunately followed its whole course of conduct from the com-
mencement of the war to the present time. In a word, peace is impossible without
independence, and it is not to be expected that the enemy will anticipate neutrals in
the recognition of that independence. When the history of this war shall be fully
disclosed, the calm judgment of the impartial publicist will, for these reasons, be
unable to al)Solve the neutral nations of Europe from a share in the moral responsi-
bility for the myriads of human lives that have been unnecessarily sacrificed during
its progress.

The renewed instances in which foreign powers have given us just cause of com-
plaint need not here be detailed. The extracts from the correspondence of the State
Department which accompany this message will afford such further information as
can be given without detriment to the public interest; and we must reserve for the
future such action as may then be deemed advisable to secure redress.

Your special attention is earnestly invited to the report of the Secretary of the
Treasury submitted in conformity with law. The facts therein disclosed are far
from discouraging, and demonstrate that, with judicious legislation, we shall b(^
enabled to meet all the exigencies of the war from our abundant resources, and
avoid, at the same time, such an accumulation of debt as would render at all doubt-
ful our caj^acity to redeem it.

The total receipts into the Treasurv for the two quarters ending on the 30th Sep-
tember, 1864, were $415,191,550, wliich sum added to the Ijalance of $308,282,722,
that remained in the Treasury on the 1st of April, last, forms a total of $723,474,272.
Of this total not far from half, that is to say $342,560,327, have been applied to the
extinction of the public debt, while the total expenditures have been $272,378,505,
leaving a balance in the Treasury on the 1st of October, 1864, of $108,435,440.

The total amount of the public debt as exhibited on the books of the Register of
the Treasury on the 1st of October, 1864, was $1,147,970,208, of which $539,-340,090
were funded debt l>earing interest, $283,880,150 were Treasury notes of the new issue,
and the remainder consisted of the former issue of Treasury notes which will be con-
verted into other forms of debt and will cease to exist as currency on the Slat of
next month.

The report, however, explains that in consequence of the absence of certain returns
from distant officers the true amount of the debt is less by about twenty-one and a
half millions of dollars than appears on the books of the Register, and that the
total public debt on the first of last month may be fairly considered to have been

The increase of the pubhc debt during the six months from the 1st of April to the
1st of October was $97,650,780, being rather more than $16,000,000 per month, and
it will be apparent on a perusal of the report that this augmentation would have
been avoided and a positive reduction of the amount would have been effected, but
for certain defects in the legislation on the subject of the finances, which are pointed
out in the report and which seem to admit of easy remedy.

In the statements just made the foreign debt is omitted. It consists only of the
unpaid balance of the loan known as the cotton loan. This balance is but £2,200,000,
and is adequately provided for by about 250,000 liales of cotton owned Ijy the Gov-
ernment, even if the cotton be rated as worth but six pence per pound.

There is one item of the public debt not included in the tables presented to which
your attention is required. The bounty bonds promised to our soldiers by the
third section of the act of 17th of February, 1864, were deliverable on the 1st of
October. The Secretary has been unable to issue them by reason of an omission in
the law, no time being therein fixed for the payment of the bonds.

The aggregate appropriations called for by the different departments of the Gov-
ernment, according to the estimates submitted with the report, for the six months
ending on the 30th of June, 1865, amount to $4.38,102,679, while the Secretary esti-
mates that there will remain unexpended out of former appropriations on the 1st of
January, 1865, a balance of $467,416,504. It would, therefore, seem that former
estimates have been largely in excess of actual expenditures, and that no additional
appropriations are required for meeting the needs of the public service uj) to the Ist
of July of next year. Indeed, if the estimates now presented should prove to be as
much in excess of actual expenditures as has here<:ofore been the case, a considerable
balance will still remain unexpended at the close of the first half of the ensuing

256 JOUENAL OF THE [Nov. 7, 1864.

The chief difRcnlty to be apprehended in connection with our finances results
from the depreciation of the Treasury notes, which seems justly to be attributed liy
the Secretary to two causes — redundancy in amount and want of confidence in ulti-
mate redemption; for both of which remedies are suggested that will commend
themselves to your consideration a.s being practicable as well as efficient.

The main features of the plan presented are substantially these: First, that the faith
of the Government be pledged that the notes shall ever remain exempt from taxation;
second, that no issue shall be made beyond that which is already authorized by law;
third, that a certain fixed portion of the annual receipts from taxation during the
war shall be set apart specially for the gradual extinction of the outstanding amount
until it shall have been reduced to |1150,000,000; and fourth, the pledge and appro-
priation of such proportion of the tax in kind, and for such number of years after the
return of peace as shall be sufficient for the final redemption of the entire circulation.
The details of the plan, the calculations on which it is based, the efficiency of its
operation, and the vast advantages which would result from its success, are fully
detailed in the report and can not be fairly presented in a form sufficiently condensed
for this message. I doubt not it will receive from you that earnest and candid con-
sideration which is merited by the importance of the subject.

The recounnendations of the rejiort for the repeal of certain provisions of the tax
laws, which produce inequality in the burthen of taxation; for exempting all Govern-
ment loans from taxation on capital, and from any adverse discrimination in taxation
on income derived from them; for placing the taxation on banks on the same footing
as the taxation of other corporate l)odies; for securing the payment into the Treasury
of that portion of the l)ank circulation which is lial)le to confiscation because held
by alien enemies; for the conversion of the interest-bearing Treasury notes now out-
standing into coupon bonds; and for the quarterly collection of taxation; all ])reseut
practical questions for legislation, which if wisely devised will greatly improve the
public credit and alleviate the burthens now imposed by the extreme and unnecessary
depreciation in the value of the currency.

The returns of the Produce Loan Bureau are submitted with the report, and the
information is conveyed that the Treasury Agency in the Trans-Mississippi Depart-
ment has been fully organized and is now in operation with promise of efficiency
and success.

The provision heretofore made to some extent for increasing the compensation of
public officers, civil and military, is found to be, in some j>lac('s. inadc(|nate to their
support — perhaps not more so anywhere than in Kichmond — and in(|uiry with a view
to appropriate reme<ly is suggested to your c()nsiileration. Your notice is also called
to the condition of certain officers of the Treasury who were omitted in the laws here-
tofore passed for the relief of other puljlic officers, as mentioned in the report of the
Secretary of the Treasury.

The condition of the various branches of the military service is stated in the
accompanying rei>oit of the Secretary of AVar. Am(uig the suggestions made for
legislative action with a view to add to the nundjers and efliciency of the Army, all
of whicii will receive your consideration, there are some prominent topics which
merit S|)ecial notice.

The exemption from military duty, now accorded by law to all persons engaged in
certain specified pursuits or professions, is shown by experience to be unwise, nor is
it believed to be defensible in tlieory. The of home, family, and country is
universally recognized as the paramount political duty of every member of society,
and in a form of government like ours, where each citizen enjoys an equality of
rights and privileges, nothing can be more invidious than an unequal distril)ution of
duties and ol)ligations. No ]iursuit nor jiosition should relieve any oni-, who is able
to do active duty, from enrollment in the Army, unli'ss his functions or .services are
more useful to the defense of his country in another sphere. But it is manifest that
this can not be the case with entire classes. All telegrajih operators, workmen in
mines, professors, teachers, engineers, editoi-s and employees of newspajx'rs, journey-
men printers, shoemakers, tanners, l)lacksmiths, millers, physicians, and the numer-
ous other classes mentioned in the laws, can not, in the nature of things, l)e either
equally necessary in their several professions, nor distribute<l throughout the cotmtry
in such pro]iortions that only the exact numl)ers required are found in each locality;
nor can it be everywhere impossible to rei)lace those within the conscript age by nieji
older and le.-^s capable of activi' field service. A discretion should be vested in the
military authorities, so that a sufficient nund)er of those essential to the jiublic service
might be detailed to continue the exercise of their pursuits or professions, but tiie
exemjition from service of the entire classes should be wiiolly abandoned. It affords
great facility for abu.«es, offers the temptation as well as the ready means of escaping
service by fraudulent devices, and is one of the i)rincipal obstructions to the efficient
opyratiou of the conscript laws.

Nov. 7, 1864.] SENATE. 257

A general militia law is needful in the interest of the public defense. The Consti-
tution, by vef^ting the power in Congress, imposes on it the duty of providing "for
organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them
as may be employed in the service of the Confederate States." The great diversity
in the legislation of the several States on this subject and the absence of any pro-
vision establii^hing an exact method for calling the militia into Confederate service
are sources of embarrassment which ought no longer to be suffered to impede defen-
sive measures.

The legislation in relation to the cavalry demands change. The policy of requir-
ing the men to furnish their own horses has proven pernicious in many respects. It
interferes with discipline, impairs efficiency, and is the cause of frequent and pro-
longed absence from appropriate duty. The subject is fully treated in the Secretary's
report, with suggestions as to the proper measures for reforming that branch of the

The reconnnendation hitherto often made is again renewed, that some measure be
adopted for the reorganization and consolidation of companies and regiments when
so far reduced in numbers as seriously to impair their efficiency. It is the more
necessary that this should be done, as the absence of legislation on the subject has
forced generals in the field to resort to various expedients for approximating the
desired end. It is surely an evil that a commanding officer should be placed in a
position which forces upon him the choice of allowing the efficiency of his command
to be seriously impaired or of attempting to supply, V^y the exercise of doubtful
authority, the want of proper legal provision. The regard for the sensibility of offi-
cers who have heretofore served with credit, and which is believed to be the con-
trolling motive that has hitherto ol)structed legislation on this subject, however
honorable and proper, may l)e carried to a point which seriously injures the public
good; and if this Ije the case, it can scarcely Vje questioned which of the two consid-
erations should l)e deemed paramount.

The Secretary's recommendations on the subject of facilitating the acquisition of
the iron required for maintaining the efficiency of railroad connnunication on the
important military lines are commended to your favor. The necessity for the opera-
tion in full vigor of such lines is too apparent to need comment.

The question in dispute between the two Governments relative to the exchange of
prisoners of war has been frequently presented in former messages and reports, and
is fully treated by the Secretary. The solicitude of the Government for the relief of
our captive fellow-citizens has known no abatement, but has, on the contrary, been
still more deeply evoked by the additional sufferings to which they have been wan-
tonly subjected, by deprivation of adequate food, clothing, and fuel, which they were
not even permitted to purchase from the prison sutlers. Finding that the enemy
attempted to excuse their barbarous treatment by the unfounded allegation that it
was retaliatory for like conduct on our part, an offer was made by us with a view of
ending all pretext for such recriminations or pretended retaliation. The offer has
been accepted, and each Government is hereafter to be allowed to provide necessary
comforts to its own citizens held captive by the other. Active efforts are in prog-
ress for the immediate execution of this agreement, and it is hoped that but few
days will elapse before we shall be relieved from the distressing thought that pain-
ful physical suffering is endured by so many of our fellow-citizens, whose fortitude in
captivity illustrates the national character as fully as did their valor in actual conflict.

The employment of slaves for service with the Army as teamsters or cooks, or in
the way of work upon fortifications, or in the Government workshops, or in hospitals,
and other similar duties, was authorized by the act of 17th February last, and pjro-
vision was made for their impressment to a number not exceeding 20,000, if it should
be found impracti^'able to obtain them by contract with the owners. The law con-
templated the hiring only of the labor of these slaves, and imposed on the Govern-
ment the liability to pay for the value of such as might be lost to the owners from
casualties resulting from their employment in the service.

This act has produced less result than was anti<dpated, and further provision is
required to render it efficacious. But my i)resent purpose is to invite your consider-
ation to the propriety of a radical modification in the theory of the law.

Viewed merely as property, and therefore as the subject of impressment, the
service or labor of the slave has been frequently claimed for short periods in the
construction of defensive works. The slave, however, bears another relation to
the State — that of a person. The law of last February contemplates only the relation
of the slave to the master, and limits the impressment to a certain term of service.
But for the purposes enumerated in the act, instruction in the manner of encamping,
marching, and parking trains is needful, so that even in this limited employment
length of service adds greatly to the value of the negro's labor. Hazard is also
encountered in all the positions to which negroes can be assigned for service with the

c .J — VOL 4 — 04 17

258 JOURNAL OF THE [Nov. 7, 1864.

Army, and the duties required of them demand loyalty and zeal. In this aspect
the relation of person predominates so far as to render it doubtful whether the pri-
vate right of property can consistently and beneficially be continued, and it would
seem proper to acquire for the public service the entire property in the labor of the
slave and to pay therefor due compensation, rather than to impress his labor for
short terms; and this the more especially as the effect of the present law would vest
this entire property in all cases where the slave might be recaptured after compen-
sation for his loss had been paid to the private owner. Whenever the entire prop-
erty in the service of a slave is thus acquired by the Government, the question is
presented by what tenure he should beheld. Should he be retained in servitude,
or should his emancipation be held out to him as a reward for faithful service, or
should it be granted at once on the promise of such service, and if emancipated,
what action should be taken to secure for the freedman the permission of the State
from which he was drawn to reside Avithin its limits after the close of his public
service. The permission would doubtless be niore readily accorded as a reward for
past faithful service; and a douV)le motive for zealous discharge of duty would thus
be offered to those employed by the Government; their freedom and the gratifica-
tion of the local attachment which is so marked a characteristic of the negro, and
forms so powerful an incentive to his action. The policy of engaging to liberate the
negro on his discharge after service faithfully rendered, seems to me preferable to
that of granting immediate manumission or that of retaining him in servitude. If
this policy should recommend itself to the judgment of Congress, it is suggested that
in addition to the duties heretofore performed by the slave, he might be advantage-
ously employed as pioneer and engineer laborer; and in that event that the number
should be augmented to 40,000.

Beyond this limit and these employments it does not seem to me desirable, under
existing circumstances, to go. A broad moral distinction exists between the use of
slaves as soldiers in the defense of their homes and the incitement of the same per-
sons to insurrection against their masters. The one is justifiable if necessary, the
other is iniquitous and unworthy of a civilized people; and such is the judgment of
all writers on public law, as well" as that ex])ressed and insisted on by our enemies in
all wars prior to that now waged against us. By none have the practices of which
they are now guilty been denounced with greater severity than by themselves in the
two wars MJth (Jreat Britain in the last and in the present century, and in the Dec-
laration of Independence of 177(), when enumeration was made of the wrongs which
justified the revolt from (ireat Britain, the climax of atrocity was deemed to be
reached only when the Knglish monarch was denounced as having "excited domestic
insurrections amongst us."

The subject is to be viewed by us, therefore, solely in the light of policy and our
social economy. When so regarded 1 must dissent from those who advise a general
levy and arming of the slaves for the duty of soldiers. Until our white population
shall prove insutlicient for the armies we re<]uire and can afford to keep in the field,
to employ as a soldier the negro who has merely been trained to labor, and as a
laborer the white man accustomed from his youth to the use of firearms would
scarcely be deemed wise or advantageous by any, and this is the (]uestion now liefore
us. But should the alternative ever be presented of subjugation or of the employ-
ment f)f the slave as a soldier, there seems no reason to (loubt what should then be
our decision. Whether our view embraced what would, in so extreme a case, be the
sum of misery entailed by the dominion (A the enemy, or be restricted solely to the
effect upon the welfare and ha{)piness of the negro population themselves, the result
would be the same. The appalling demoralization, suffering, disease, and death
which have been caused by partially substituting the invaders' system of jiolice for
the kind relation jirevionsly subsisting l)etween tin- master and slave have been a
sufficient demonstration that external interference with our institution of domestic
slavery is iiroductive of evil only. If the subject involved no other consideration
than the mere right of property, the sacrifices heretofore made by our people have
been such as to permit no doubt of their readiness to surrender every possession in
order to secure their independence. But the social and political question, which is
exclusively under the control of the several States, has a far wider and more enduring
importance than that of pecuniary interest. In its manifold phases it embraces the
stability of our republican institutions resting on the actual political equality of all its
citizens, and includes the fulfillment of the task which has been so happily begun —
that of improving the condition and Christianizing the Africans who have by the
will of Providence been placed in our charge. Comjiaring the results of our own
experience with those of the experiments of others wiio have borne similar relations
to the African race, the jieople of the several States of the Confederacy have abun-
dant reason to be satisfied with the past and to use the greatest circumsjtection in
determining their course. These considerations, however, are rather applicable to

Nov. 7, 1864.] SENATE. * 259

the improbable contingency of our need of resorting to this element of resistance than
to our present condition. If the recommendation above made for the training of
40,000 negroes for the service indicated should meet your approval, it is certain that
even this limited number, by their preparatory training in intermediate duties, would
form a more valuable reserve force, in case of urgency, than threefold their number
suddenly called from field labor, while a fresh levy could, to a certain extent, supply
their places in the special service for which they are now employed.

The regular annual reports of the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Navy,
and the Postmaster-General are appended, and give ample information relative to
the condition of the respective departments. They contain suggestions for legis-
lative provisions required to remedy such defects in the existing laws as have been
disclosed by experience, but none of so general or important a character as to require
that I should do more than recommend them to your favorable consideration.

The disposition of this Government for a peaceful solution of the issues which the
enemy has referred to the arbitrament of arms has been too often manifested and is
too well known to need new assurances. But while it is true that individuals and
parties in the United States have indicated a desire to substitute reason for force,
and by negotiation to stop the further sacrifice of human life, and to arrest the calam-
ities which now afflict both countries, the authorities who control the Government
of our enemies have too often and too clearly expressed their resolution to make no
peace except on terms of our unconditional submission and degradation, to leave us
any hope of the cessation of hostilities until the delusion of their ability to conquer
us is dispelled. Among those who are already disposed for peace, many are actuated
by principle and by disapproval and abhorrence of the iniquitous warfare that their
Government is waging, while others are moved by the conviction that it is no longer
to the interest of the United States to continue a struggle in which success is unat-
tainable. Whenever this fast-growing conviction shall have taken firm root in the
minds of a majority of the Northern people, there will be produced that willingness
to negotiate for peace which is now confined to our side. Peace is manifestly impos-
sible unless desired by both parties to this war, and the disposition for it among our

Online LibraryConfederate States of America. CongressJournal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 (Volume 4) → online text (page 33 of 104)