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

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Before the reading of the message,

On motion by Mr. Graham,

Ordered^ That it ])e transferred to the Secret Legislative Calendar.

On motion by Mr. Hill,

The Senate resolved into secret legislative session.

The doors having been opened,

The President laid before the Senate a communication from the
Secretary of the Treasury, asking the passage of a law authorizing
him to redeem and cancel, before maturity, such bonds and notes as
may be received in payment of sequestrated propert}-; which was
read.

Ordered, That it be referred to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. Brown, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, reported

A bill (S. 141) to increase the pay of noncommissioned officers,
privates, and musicians of the Marine Corps; which was read the first
and second times and ordered to be placed upon the Calendar.

Mr. Brown, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, reported the
following bills; which were severally read the first and second times
and ordered to l)e placed upon tiie Calendar and printed:

S. 142. Bill to increase the luuuber of acting midshipmen in the
Navy, and to prescribe the mode of appointment;

S. 143. Bill to authorize the employment of instructors for the act-
ing midshipmen of the Na\y, and to regulate their pay;

S. 144. Bill making an appropriation for the erection of additional
])uildings at Drcwry's Bluff' for the accommodation of acting midship-
men; and

S. 145. Bill to authorize the appointment of naval constructors in
the Provisional Navy, and to tix their pay.

Mr. Brown, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, reported

A bill (S. 146) making an appropriation for the removal and erec-
tion of the naval ropewalk;

which was read the first and second times and considered as in Com-
mittee of the Whole; and no amendment being proposed, it was
reported to the Senate.

Ordered^ That it be engrossed and read a third time.

The said bill was read the third time.

Resolved^ That it pass, and that the title thereof be as aforesaid.

Ordered^ That the Secretary request the concurrence of the House
of Representatives therein.

On motion ))y ]\Ir. Brown,

Ordered, That the Connuittee on Naval Affairs be discharged from
the further consideration of the memorial of professors in the Confed-
erate States Naval School.

Mr. Barnwell, from the Committee on Finance, reported

A bill (S. 147) to provide for the transfer of certain appropriations;
which was read the first and second times and considered as in Com-
mittee of the Whole; and no amendment being proposed, it was
reported to the Senate.

Ordered^ That it be engrossed and read a third time.

The said bill was read the third time.



Dec. 17, I8ti4.] SENATE. 373

. Resolved^ That it pass, and that the title thereof be as aforesaid.

Ordered^ That the Secretary request the concurrence of the House
of Representatives therein.

On motion by Mr. Barnwell,

Ordered^ That the Committee on Finance be discharged from the
further consideration of the following subjects:

Memorial of J. S. Whitten; and

Resolution inquiring into the expediency of extending to nonresi-
dent taxpayers in counties and districts of country now, or which may
hereafter be, in the vicinity of the enemy, a longer time than is now
allowed l)y law for the payment of taxes, etc.

The bill (H. R. 283) received this day from the House of Repre-
sentatives for concurrence was read the first and second times and
referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

On motion by Mr. jNIaxwell,

The Senate adjourned.

SECRET SESSION.

The Senate resumed, as in Committee of the Whole, the considera-
tion of the bill (H. R. 267) to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus in certain cases for a limited time; and

On motion by Mr. Walker,

Ordered^ That the further consideration thereof be postponed until
Monday next.

Mr. Brown , from the Committee on Naval Affairs, who were instructed
by a resolution of the Senate to inquire into the expediency of suspend-
ing appropriations for the construction of vessels of war, and of limit-
ing the operations of the Naval Department during the war, submitted
the following resolution for consideration:

Resolved, That it would be unwise, at this time, to suspend the appropriations for
the construction of vessels of war, or to restrict the operations of the Navy Depart-
ment within narrower limits than they are at present.

The following message, received this day from the President of the
Confederate States, in open legislative session, having been read:

To the Senate of the Confederate States of America:

I herewith transmit to the Senate the reports made by the heads of the Treasury
and War Departments in response to the resolutions of the Senate of the 5th instant,
making various inquiries relative to the suljjects embraced in the act of 6th February,
1864, entitled "An act to impose regulations upon the foreign commerce of the Con-
federate States to provide for the public defense."

The importance of this subject induces me to present at some length to the Senate
my views upon the policy of the law, and upon its effects as developed by experience.

The first section of the law (which was passed at the fourth session of the First
Congress, and was the expression of its matured judgment) prohibits the exportation
of the principal products of the Confederate States except under uniform regnlations;
and the reason for this prohibition is expressed in the jjreamble to be tliis: "That
the condition of the contest demands that the Confederate States should call into
requisition -whatever resources of men and money thej' have for the suiiport of their
cause."

The fifth section of the law indicated that the purpose of Congress, in granting
power to allow or refuse permission to export the produce of our country, was to
enforce a return, in whole or in part, of the value of the produce exported, "in mili-
tary or other supplies for the public service." But a full understanding of the policy
of your predecessors can be attained only by taking into consideration another act
passed on the same day and entitled "An act to prohibit the importation of luxuries,
or of articles not necessaries or of common use." This last-mentioned act absolutely
prohibited, during the pending war, the importation of any articles not aecessary for



874 JOUKNAL OF THE [Dec. 17, 18G4.

the defense and subsistence of the country, and among those excUided from impor-.
tation were wines, spirits, je\veh-y, cigars, and all the liner fabrics of cotton, flax,
wool, or silk, as well as all other merchandise serving only for the indulgence of luxu-
rious habits.

In a word, the two acts were an exercise of the power to regulate commerce, so as
to make it subservient to the success of our struggle, by prohibitiaig the importation
or exportation of merchandise or produce, for any other purpose than national
defense and necessary subsistence, until these vital objects should be j^laced beyond
the reach of danger. Tlie two laws form one common system, and they should be
so regarded in discussing the propriety of the repeal or modification of either.

When signing my approval of these acts, I considered them as measures eminently
wise and proper, and as well adapted to remedy existing evils. Complaints weiv
rife through our country that its foreign commerce was almost exclusively in the
hands of aliens; that our cotton, tobacco, and naval stores were being draineil from
the States, and that we were receiving in return cargoes of liquors, wines, and articles
of luxury; that the imported goods being held in few hands and in limited quantities,
were sold at prices so exorbitant that tlie blockade runners, after ])urchasing fresh
cargoes of cotton, still retained large sums in Confederate money, which they invested
in gold for exportation and in foreign exchange; and that the whole course of the
trade had a direct tendency to im])overisli our country, demoralize our people, depre-
ciate our ciurency, and enfeeble our defense. Congress l>elieved these c<inq)laints
well foundeil, anci in that belief J fully concurred. None doul)te<l that a remedy
was desirable, and the present iiKiuiries of the Senate seek information in relation to
the efficacy of the remedy provided by the legislation then devised, as developed
by actual exi>erience.

My conviction is decided that the effect of the legislation has been salutary; that
the evils existing jyrior to its adoption have ))een materially diminished; and that
the repeal of the legislation, or any modification impairing its etliciency, would lie
calamitous. This opinion is shared b\' every Executive Department that has been
intrusted with the execution of these laws and regulations, and thus enabled to form
a judgment based on observation and experience.

Tlie propriety and justice of a claim on the part of the Government that a share
of all vessels engaged in the blockade trade should be held subject to its use for the
beneiit of the whole people was so obvious that even before the legislation of Con-
gress few owners of vessels refused to place at its disposal one-third of the tonnage,
both outward and inward, for the importation of supplies and the exportation of the
jtroduce necessary to pa}' for them. On the passage of the.'^e laws it was deemed
proper to increase the demand of the (Tovernmeut to one-half. This decision was
l)a.sed not only on the consideration that the Government was burthened with the
entire exi)ense of defending the ports of entry, but on the further reason that the
enormous gains of the commerce were monopolized by foreigners free to engage in
coinmen-e at their pleasure, while our citizens were engrossed in the sacred duty of
defending their homes and liberties, and, therefore, unable to compete for the trade.
Jt was foreseen that this increase would be resisted, and in a message on this sub-
ject addressed Ijy me to the House of Representatives on the 10th of June last it is
stated that "for some weeks after the adoption of these regulations strenuous efforts
were maile by jnirties interested in the lousiness to induce; a relaxation of the regula-
tions, ^lany of the vessels remained uncmjiloyed on the allegation of the owners
that the terms imj)Osed l)y the regulations were so onerous as to render im])ossil)le
the continuance of the business. The regulations remained unchanged, for 1 was
satisfled from an examination of the subject that this (■om[)laint was unfounded, and
that the withdrawal of the vessels was an experiment, by a combinatifjn among tiieir
owners, on the lirmness of the (Government. The result proved the correctness of
this view; for, after various attempts to obtain increased advantages, the vessels
resumed their voyages, their mnnber has been largely increased, the ability to exjiort
produce and import suj^plies on (iovernment account has been developed to a greater
extent than had been anticipated, and the credit of the (iovernment has been so
imi)rove<l in foreign markets that the quotations for its loan have 7-apidly advanced."

In the same message it was also stated that "among the efforts maile to induce a
change of the regulations was a warning given to officers of the (iovernment that the
owners of vessels could make better bargains with the governors of States tlian with
the Confederate (iovernment, and that, if the regulations Avere not relaxed in their
favor, they would transfer their vessels to the executives of the several States, and
thus withdraw them from the operations of the regulations."

Reverting now to the precise incjuiries contained in the resolution of the Senate, I
answer: *

First. That no restriction whatever has been j)lac(>d on tlie exercise o^the right of
any Confederate State to export, on its own account, any of tin- articles enumerateil



Dec. 17. 1864.] SENATE. 375

in the act entitled "An act to impose regulations," etc., approved 6th February, 1864.
Each State not only exports whatever it pleases, but the obligation imposed on pri-
vate individuals to bring back into the country necessary supplies, equal in value to
half of the produce exported, is not extended to the States. They are, in these respects,
on a footing of alwolute equality with the Confederate Government.

I am aware that complaints have been made of the effect of these regulations by the
governors of some of the States; but their oVjjections are, in my judgment, without
just foundation.

It is not denied l)y any of them that when a State purchases a vessel it is left under
the exclusive control of the State authorities, and that the Confederate Government
t-laiins no share of the outward or inward tonnage. It is also admitted that where
the States purchase or charter any part of a vessel not exceeding one-half, the Con-
federate Government does not interfere with the enjoyment of the portion so pur-
chased or ('bartered, and confines itself to exacting from the private owner the use
of that half not conveyed to the State; but the complaint is that the Confederate
Government will not further consent to yield, for the benefit of a single State, any
jjart of that moiety of the tonnage of each vessel which it has secured under the regu-
lations for the common use and benefit of all the States, of which it is the agent.

By the regulations, as now existing, half the tonnage of all vessels in the trade has
been conveyed to the use of the Confederacy. Why should a single State be allowed
to take for its separate use from the Confederacy, any part of this half? Is it not
enough that the remaining half is left open for purchase or charter by the State?

It is plain that a State and the owner of a vessel can have no motive for contract-
ing in sucli manner as to diminish the tonnage claimed by the Confederac)'' unless
for a profit that is to be shared b}^ both. Any concession, therefore, made on this
point, is, in effect, the loss of an interest which is the common property of all the
States, for the joint gain of a single State and of a private capitalist.

Again: The army in the field is the Army of the Confederacy, which is charged
with the duty of supplying it with clothing, subsistence, and munitions of war. The
performance of this duty demands the most strenuous exertions and the command of
all the resources that can be reached. Any diminution of our command of those
I'esources l)y a modification of the existing legislation might lead to disastrous conse-
quences. Under our present arrangements, we are barely aljle to supply to our brave
tlefenders a moderate share of those comforts which are indispensable to their effi-
ciency. As long as privations are endured by all alike, there is a noble and patriotic
emulation in the display of cheerful fortitude in enduring them. But if the common
supply now distributed among all is diminished for the purpose of enabling any one
State to add to the supplies furnished her own troops, the effect will be pernicious to
an extent that can scarcely be appreciated in advance. I leave it t(j others to imagine
the state of feeling wdiich would ensue if the soldiers of the seaboard States were to be
found amply supplied with all necessaries and comforts, standing side by side with
the troops of interior States, who would be deprived of a part of what they now
receive, in con.sequence of a diminution of our present means of providing for all alike.
If, to this, it should be answered that the interior States could enjoy the same advan-
tages as the seaboard States, by sending agents to the ports to represent them, thus
l)lacing all on an equal footing, the reply is obvious. The result would then be to
ijring all the States back to the same condition in which they now are; that is to say,
eacli possessing its fair share of the advantages derived from the tonnage used by the
Confederate Government.

It appears to me that any change in the present regulations, so as to affect the rights
of the Confederate Government, must necessarily be either useless or mischievous —
useless, If no advantage is to be gained Ijy any one State over the others; mischiev-
ous in the extreme, if such an advantage is to be the effect of a change.

It has been suggested that there are many articles required by the people of the
different States which can only be obtained through the aid of their governments,
and that tlie efforts of the Confederate Government are confined exclusively to the
supply of the needs of the Army. This is true. But one-half of all the tonnage of
private owners remains open to employment by the States for the purpose suggested,
though, perhaps, at somewhat greater cost than would be charged if they were per-
mitted to Ui^e the portion reserved for the Confederacy; but I repeat that there is no
justice apparent in the demand that all the States should sacrifice a common right for
the profit of a single State, or in diminishing the necessary comforts of the soldier for
the Ijenefit of those who remain at home. It is also competent for each State to pur-
chase vessels for its own use, or to ])urchase shares in common with one or more otlier
States, for the introduction of supplies necessary for the people, without encroaching
on the means usetl l>y the Confederacy for .supplying the Army.

Second. T^i>on the second cjuestion, whether the regulations have caused any
diminution in the numljer of vessels engaged in foreign commerce, the report of the



376 JOURNAL OF THE [Dec. 17, 1864.

Secretary of the Treasury gives such information as satisfactorily establishes the
reverse to be the case. In addition to the statements made l)y him, derived from
official returns, the Secretary of War reports that many new steamers are understood
to be on the way to engage in the trade, notwithstanding the impression which pre-
vails, that the stringency of the blockade is constantly increasing.

The numlier of vessels which arrived at two ports of the Confederacy between the
1st November and 6th December was forty-three, averaging more than one jier day,
and indicating no check in the trade. A further and conclusive proof that the
profits of this commerce under present regulations are sufficienth' temptine to secure
its increase is afforded by the fact that the shares of the companies engaged in it
have greatly advanced in value. The shares of one company, originally of $1,000
each, were selling, in July last, for $20,000 each, and now command $30,000. Those
of another company have increased in the same period from $2,500 to $6,000; and
all exhibit a large advance.

Third. The third inquiry of the Senate seeks information whether the legislation
and regulaticmshave been beneficial or otherwise in their effect on the success of our
arms and the sui>ply of means necessary to the jiublic defense. My opinion has
already been indicated on this point, and the reports of the Secretaries are decided
in the expression of their own convictions of the wisdom of the laws and the benefi-
cial effect produced by them, in connection with the regulations established for giv-
ing them effect.

These laws and regulations have enabled the Government not only to provide sup-
plies to a much greater extent than formerly, and to furnish the means for meeting
the installments on its foreign loan, but to put an end to a wasteful and ruinous con-
tract system l)y which supplies were obtained before Congresis determined to exercise
control over the imports and exports.

Instead of Ijeing compelled to give contractors a large profit on the cost of their
supplies, and to make payment in cotton in our ports, at 6 pence per pound, we
now purchase supplies abroad, by our agents, at cost in the foreign market, and pay
them in cotton, which sells at a net price of 24 prnce per pound. AVhen all
the elements of the calculation are taken into consideration, it is by no means an
exaggeration to say that 100 bales of cotton, exported by the Government, will i>ur-
cliase, abroad, the same amount and value of supplies that 600 bales would purchase,
delivered to contractors in the Confederacy. A reference to the report of the Seci-e-
tary of the Treasury shows that of 11,796 bales of cotton shipped since 1st July last,
but 1,272 were lost, not quite 11 per cent. If this be taken as a fair average, and it
is believed to be so, out of 600 bales of cotton exported, 5.34 would arrive abroa<l, and
yield, at 40 pounds per bale, £21,360, while the same 600 bales, delivered inpay-
ment at a home port, at 6 pence per pound, would yield less than ,£6,000.

There are other advantages derived from buying abroad rather than contracting
with blockade runners, of no small magnitude; but the foregoing statement will shew
the enormous iirolits that were made by them when the Government was forced to
contract, instead ol jnirchasing for itself, and will suggest a motive for the stremious
efforts they have not ceased to make to get rid of t le regulations and procure a
change in the ])olicy of the Government. It is to the law and regulations that the
Government owes its ability to command freight room, and thus buy and sell for
itself, instead of being forced to make contracti^ so extravagant as those above
described. It requires little sagacity to perceive that, with temptation so great, the
owners of vessels would spare no pains to obtain contracts from the several States, if
allowed to do so by law, with the view of again withdrawing from our use, as far as
possible, the tonnage of their vessels, and thus compelling a return to the ruinous
contract system.

The rejiorts of the Secretaries will fully inform the Senate of the quantity and
nature of the supplies obtained by the Government under the present system, and
their importance to the national defense will be perceived at a glance.

Fourth. To the fourth inquiry, whether experience has suggested the necessity of
the repeal of said act, or any modification or amendment of its provisions, the fore-
going remarks would seem to furnish a sufficient answer. But I conclude by renew-
ing tlie exjiression of my conviction that the result of any legislation checking or
•Hminishing the control now exerciseil by the Government over our foreign com-
merce would be injurious to the public interest, and would insure the renewal, in
aggravate! 1 form, of the evils which it was the purpose of your predecessors to remedy
bv the laws now in force.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

RicuMOND, Va., December 17, 1SG4.



Dec. 19, 1861] SENATE. 377

On motion by Mr. Barnwell,

Ordered., That the niessag-e and accompanying documents be printed
in confidence for the use of the Senate.
On motion by Mr. Sparrow,
The Senate resolved into executive session.

EXECUTIVE SESSION.

Mr. Sparrow, from the Committee on Military Affairs, to whom
were referred (on the 12th instant) the nominations of W. A. McPhee-
ters, J. S. McDonough, C. A. Rice, Robert Duncan, A. A. Lawrance,
John M. Lawing, W. R. McCreight, William S. Fowler, William J.
Cocke, J. L. Pressley, M. A. Brown, Junius Terry, Thomas B. Elkin,
A. T. Gordon, Richard Boyd, Elvis McCrory, William H. Dulaney,
Thomas S. Young, A. S. Murphy, John De Butts, Charles DulJy,
E. W. Thomason, W. X. Moseley, Calhoun Sams, J. C. W. Steger,
Caleb Toxey, William Toxey, John R. Leigh, William A. Blount, Z. T.
Murphy, Lucien Hall, John H. Gibbs, J. W. Leftwich, James F.
Davis, C. D. Owens, J. P. Humphreys, D. W. Booth, Jos. Yates,
H. R, Branham, A. Monteiro, Jos. B. Brock, M. J. De Rosset,
C. L. Garnett, John S. Wilson, J. C. Abernathy, James B. Clifton,
W. McC. Piggott, H. J. Parramore, Frank Spencer, Simon Baruch,
James J. Knott, Charles S. Carter, Isaiah J. Roberts, Nelson G. West,
fJohn S. Stoney, W. A. Thompson, James S. Herron, J. E. Ferguson,
John T. Jones, B. C. Harrison, William M. Swann, William H.
Taylor, William W. Gaither, R. Murdoch, T. B. Wilkerson, A. V.
Doak, Benjamin S. Barnes, Jos, M. Meggett, T. R. Trotter, B. St.
G. Tucker, and Arthur Brogden, to be surgeons, reported, with the
recommendation that all of said nominations be confirmed.

The Senate proceeded to consider said report; and in concurrence
therewith, it was

Resolved., That the Senate advise and consent to their appointment,
agreeably to the nomination of the President.

On motion by Mr. Brown,

The Senate resolved into open legislative session.



MONDAY, Decembek 19, 18fi4.

OPEN SESSION.

Mr. Walker presented resolutions of the general assembly of the
State of Alabama "■ in relation to impressments and the schedule of
prices fixed by Confederate commissioners," and "urging the pay-
ment of officers and privates by Confederate authorities;" which were



Online LibraryConfederate States of America. CongressJournal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 (Volume 4) → online text (page 48 of 104)