Confederate States of America. President.

The messages and papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, including diplomatic correspondence, 1861-1865 (Volume 1) online

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i 861-1865




A Representative from the State of Tennessee
Compiler and Editor of "Messages and Papers of the Presidents"

In Two Volumes — Volume I.






Copyright, 1904,


James D. Richardson.


Resolution Permitting the Compilation.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,

• ••«•••••••

Sec. 5. That permission is hereby granted to James D. Rich-
ardson to compile, edit, and publish, without expense to the
Government, the State papers and diplomatic correspondence of
the late Confederate States, and access to said papers and cor-
respondence shall be given him for that purpose by the heads
of the Executive Departments having such papers in charge, un-
der such regulations as may be respectively prescribed by them.

Approved April 17, 1900.


Prefatory Note.

The official papers of all the Presidents of the United States
from Washington to McKinley were compiled by me a few years
ago. That compilation is entitled "Messages and Papers of the
Presidents," is in ten volumes, and was published by the au-
thority of Congress. I have now, by permission of Congress,
compiled and edited all the messages, proclamations, and inau-
gural addresses of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate
States, together with the important and interesting diplomatic
correspondence of the Confederacy. This compilation is a fitting
companion piece to the former work. Biographical sketches of
President Davis, Vice President Stephens, General Robert E.
Lee, and the three Secretaries of State, Robert Toombs, Robert
M. T. Hunter, and Judah P. Benjamin, have been prepared and
are included. There will be two volumes of this work, the first
containing the official papers of the President, the second com-
prising the diplomatic correspondence. The only omission of
any message has been in the case where it contained simply a
formal nomination without comment. Neither the State papers
of Mr. Davis nor the diplomatic correspondence of the Confed-
eracy have ever before been compiled.

The "Messages and Papers of the Presidents" contains their
official papers without any political coloring by the editor and
compiler, and so the papers herein published are given to the
public entirely without any sectional or political bias. The ob-
ject in view in making this publication is to place all the messages
and papers of the Confederacy and the diplomatic correspond-
ence before the public at large of all sections of our country in a
convenient and enduring form. As stated, these are given with-
out comment, and the reader is left to draw his own conclusions.

It will be conceded that no man more fully appreciated and
understood the motives and principles which actuated the South-
ern States and their people in their conduct in withdrawing from
the Union than the man thev chose to be their President, and it


viii Jfcssagcs and Papers of the Confederacy.

is equally true that but few men ever lived in our land who were
so happy in finding language to give adequate and forcible expres-
sion to these motives and principles.

These volumes contain the sentiments and opinions entertained
by Mr. Davis as he gave utterance to them during that stormy and
perilous period of war, and those who agreed and acted with
him then, and who now think as he did, should find ample and
complete satisfaction for themselves as they peruse the pages of
this work ; while those who did not then and who do not now
so agree with him and his associates should not only be willing
to have what he said in behalf of the Confederacy brought to
light, but, on the other hand, should be desirous of having this
done, so that from every standpoint publicity may be given to
what they consider to have been his and their errors and mis-

There will be found in the Index of Volume I a number of
encyclopedic articles which are intended to furnish the reader
definitions of politico-historical words and phrases, some of which
occur in the papers of the Chief Magistrate, or to develop more
fully questions or subjects to which only indirect reference is
made, or which are but briefly discussed by him. There will also
be found brief accounts of more than a hundred battles in which
the armies of the Confederate States were engaged. I have ear-
nestly endeavored to make these articles historically correct, and
to this end have carefully compared them with the best authori-
ties. There has been no effort or inclination on my part to inject
partisan or political opinions of any nature into these articles.
On the other hand, I have sought only to furnish reliable his-
torical data and well-authenticated definitions, and to avoid the
expression of my own opinion.

The great wonder is that those who delight in hunting up and
publishing interesting history, which was so thrilling when the
events that made it were being enacted, have not heretofore dug
up these papers from their hidden repositories in the archives
of the Government at Washington, and given them to the public.
This is true especially of the diplomatic correspondence. The
addresses, messages, and proclamations of Mr. Davis were all
read during the war with the keenest interest as they were pub-
lished, although they have been buried out of sight since its

Prefatory Note. ix

close. They relate to the establishment of the provisional, and
later to the permanent, Government of the Confederacy, its rise,
progress, and fall, and contain a frequent statement of the funda-
mental grounds on which the rights of the Southern people to
set up a Government for themselves rested, and tell vividly of
the successes and defeats of the Confederate Army on many
bloody fields. Much of the history and many events shown by
them have been overlooked, or linger only in the minds of many
persons in a half-forgotten way. But this is not true of the
diplomatic correspondence, for it has never heretofore been pub-
lished. It was all, or nearly all, profoundly secret and con-
fidential at the time the communications were passed between
the Confederate Commissioners and the State Department of the
Confederacy. It will be remembered that the Commissioners to
the leading nations of Europe were William L. Yancey, of Ala-
bama, Pierre A. Rost, of Louisiana, and A. Dudley Mann, of Vir-
ginia. Later there were sent abroad James M. Mason, of Vir-
ginia, John Slidell, of Louisiana, and L. O. C. Lamar, of Mis-
sissippi. Messrs. Yancey and Mason spent much of their
time at the Court of St. James, Mr. Slidell, at Paris, Mr. Rost.
at Madrid, Mr. Lamar, at St. Petersburg, and Mr. Mann, at
Brussels, although each made visits to other capitals. John T.
Pickett was the Commissioner to Mexico. The foreign cor-
respondence, therefore, was written and signed in the most part
by these gentlemen, or some one of them. The letters to them
emanated from the State Department, and were signed by the
Secretary for the time being. The Secretaries of State were Rob-
ert Toombs, of Georgia, Robert M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, and
Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, in the order named, all schol-
arly men of the highest culture, and all of them prior to the
war had been members of the United States Senate. Mr. Ma-
son and Mr. Slidell had also been members of that body, and
Mr. Yancey had been a member of the House of Representatives.
All of them had also held other high positions in their respective
States. Some of the papers are signed by William M. Browne,
of Mississippi, who occasionally acted as Secretary of State.

When the war closed, the soldiers of both sides of the four
years' desperate conflict returned to their peaceful pursuits, and
were soon busy in their efforts to recover lost fortunes and to gain

x Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

the mastery over new and complicated questions arising out of
changed conditions. For these and other reasons, they did not be-
stow attention upon this correspondence, and it has never been
unearthed and given to the public in either the Southern or
Northern States. It will, therefore, be new in both sections, and
the people of each must alike find enjoyment and pleasure in
reading it. Interest in it will begin with the first notes given the
Commissioners by the Government, and their departure for Eu-
rope. The story of their efforts to evade the blockade of the
Southern ports, the successful passage of Mason and Slidell from
their own shores to Cuba, and their embarkment for Europe on
an English vessel, from which they were captured on the high
seas, and brought to the United States as prisoners, the peremp-
tory demand by Great Britain upon the United States for their
restoration to her ships, the compliance with this demand, and
their safe arrival and reception in Europe are all of thrilling in-
terest, even at this remote day.

If the United States Government had persisted in holding these
gentlemen, it would in all probability have become embroiled in
war with Great Britain, the results of which no one could have
foretold ; nor is it possible to conceive what might have been the
effect of such a war upon the fate and fortunes of the Con-

When divested of the sad memories of that dark and gloomy
period, this correspondence reads almost like romance.

From Mexico there will be found valuable and important cor-
respondence. These communications are mainly to and from
Mr. Pickett, and in them, among other things of interest, will
be found something of the story of the installation by France of
Maximilian, the unfortunate young Austrian archduke, upon the
throne as Emperor of Mexico, which he subsequently lost, and
which cost him his life.

The reader will find a carefully prepared Index in each volume,
which will materially assist in the investigation of the subjects
therein discussed. These Indices are largely the labor of my
son, James D. Richardson, Jr., who has also aided me in the en-
tire work. James D. Richardson.

January i, 1905.

Contents of Volume I.


Resolution Permitting the Compilation v

Prefatory Note vii

Provisional Constitution ■ 3

Biographical Sketch of Jefferson Davis 17

Provisional Congress :
First Session :

Election of President and Vice President 29

Notification of Election to President and Vice President. 30

Inauguration of President 3 1

Inaugural Address 32

Permanent Constitution 37

Provisional Congress :
First Session (Continued) :

Messages 55

Letter" of President Davis to President Lincoln 55

Messages 56

Veto Message 59

Proclamations 60

Second Session (Called) :

Messages 63

Veto Messages 100

Proclamations 102

Act Recognizing Existence of War, etc 104

President's Instructions to Private Armed Vessels.... in

Act Amending Act Recognizing Existence of War, etc.. 113

Resolution of Thanks 114

Letter of President Davis to President Lincoln 115

Third Session:

Messages IT 7

Dispatch of President Davis to the Congress 124


xii Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.


Messages 12 ,

Veto Message I 3°^.

Proclamations 131 1

Resolutions of Thanks 133

Fourth Session (Called) :

Message 134

Proclamation 135

Fifth Session :

Messages 136

Veto Messages 156

Proclamations 166

Resolutions of Thanks 168

Biographical Sketch of Alexander H. Stephens 173

First Congress:
First Session :

Inauguration of President 181

Inaugural Address 183

Messages 189

Veto Messages 215

Proclamations 217

Addresses 228

Resolutions of Thanks 230

Second Session :

Messages 232

Veto Messages 262

Proclamations 268

Resolutions of Thanks 275

Third Session :

Messages 276

Veto Messages 320

Proclamations 324

Addresses 331

Resolutions of Thanks 337

Appointment of Vice President Stephens as Military

Commissioner to United States 339

Letter of President Davis to President Lincoln 343

Con ten Is of Volume J . xiii

Fourth Session: p AGE

Messages 345

Veto Messages 408

Proclamation 412

Address 414

Official Regulations to Carry into Effect Act to Impose

Regulations upon Foreign Commerce, etc 417

Resolutions of Thanks 420

Biographical Sketch of Robert E. Lee 437

Second Congress:

First Session :

Messages 443

Veto Messages 457

Address 477

Resolutions of Thanks 479

Second Session :

Messages 482

Message of President Lincoln on the Hampton Roads

Conference, Including Correspondence 521

Veto Messages 553

Proclamations 563

Address 568

Act Providing for Appointment of General in Chief. . . . 570

Communication from President's Private Secretary. . . . 570

Index 573



Confederate Capitol at Montgomery Frontispiece

Jefferson Davis 16

Alexander H. Stephens 172

Robert E. Lee 436


Constitution for the Provisional

Constitution for the Provisional

We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States of
South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Lou-
isiana, invoking the favor of Almighty God, do hereby, in behalf
of these States, ordain and establish this Constitution for the Pro-
visional Government of the same : to continue one year from the
inauguration of the President, or until a permanent constitution or
confederation between the said States shall be put in operation,
whichsoever shall first occur.

Article I.

Section i. All legislative powers herein delegated shall be vested
in this Congress now assembled until otherwise ordained.

Sec. 2. When vacancies happen in the representation from any
State, the same shall be filled in such manner as the proper au-
thorities of the State shall direct.

Sec. 3. (1) The Congress shall be the judge of the elections, re-
turns, and qualifications of its members ; any number of deputies
from a majority of the States, being present, shall constitute a
quorum to do business ; but a smaller number may adjourn from
day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of ab-
sent members ; upon all questions before the Congress, each State
shall be entitled to one vote, and shall be represented by any one or
more of its deputies who may be present.

(2) The Congress may determine the rules of its proceedings,
punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the con-
currence of two-thirds, expel a member.

(3) The Congress shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and
from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may
in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the
members on anv question shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those


4 Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

present, or at the instance of any one State, be entered on the

Sec. 4. The members of Congress shall receive a compensation
for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the
Treasury of the Confederacy. They shall in all cases, except
treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest
during their attendance at the session of the Congress, and in
going to and returning from the same ; and for any speech or de-
bate they shall not be questioned in any other place.

Sec. 5. (1) Every bill which shall have passed the Congress
shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the
Confederacy ; if he approve, he shall sign it ; but if not, he shall
return it with his objections to the Congress, who shall enter the
objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.
If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the Congress shall
agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. But in all such cases
the vote shall be determined by yeas and nays ; and the names of
the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the
journal. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within
ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to
him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed
it, unless the Congress, by their adjournment, prevent its return;
in which case it shall not be a law. The President may veto any
appropriation or appropriations and approve any other appropria-
tion or appropriations in the same bill.

(2) Every order, resolution, or vote intended to have the force
and effect of a law, shall be presented to the President, and before
the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or, being dis-
approved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Congress,
according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a

(3) Until the inauguration of the President, all bills, orders,
resolutions, and votes adopted by the Congress shall be of full
force without approval by him.

Sec. 6. (1) The Congress shall have power to lay and collect
taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for the revenue necessary to
pay the debts and carry on the Government of the Confederacy;
and all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout
the States of the Confederacy.

Constitution for the Provisional Government. 5

(2) To borrow money on the credit of the Confederacy.

(3) To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian tribes.

(4) To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform
laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the Confederacy.

(5) To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign
coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.

(6) To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the se-
curities and current coin of the Confederacy.

(7) To establish post offices and post roads.

(8) To promote the progress of science and useful arts by se-
curing, for limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive
right to their respective writings and discoveries.

(9) To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.

(10) To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on
the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.

(11) To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and
make rules concerning captures on land and water.

(12) To raise and support armies; but no appropriation of
money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.

(13) To provide and maintain a navy.

(14) To make rules for the government and regulation of the
land and naval forces.

(15) To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws
of the Confederacy, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

(16) To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the
militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed
in the service of the Confederacy, reserving to the States respec-
tively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training
the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

(17) To make all laws that shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers
expressly delegated by this Constitution to this Provisional Gov-

(18) The Congress shall have power to admit other States.

(19) This Congress shall also exercise executive powers, until
the President is inaugurated.

Sec. 7. (1) The importation of African negroes from any for-
eign country other than the slave-holding States of the United

6 Jfcssages and J^ ape?' s of the Confederacy.

States, is hereby forbidden ; and Congress are required to pass such
laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

(2) The Congress shall also have power to prohibit the intro-
duction of slaves from any State not a member of this Confed-

(3) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be sus-
pended unless, when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public
safety may require it.

(4) No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.

(5) ^° preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce
or revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another ; nor
shall vessels bound to or from one State be obliged to enter, clear,
or pay duties in another.

(6) No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in conse-
quence of appropriations made by law ; and a regular statement
and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money
shall be published from time to time.

(7) Congress shall appropriate no money from the treasury, un-
less it be asked and estimated for by the President or some one of
the heads of departments, except for the purpose of paying its own
expenses and contingencies.

(8) No title of nobility shall be granted by the Confederacy;
and no person holding any office of profit or trust under it shall,
without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolu-
ment, office, or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince,
or foreign state.

(9) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press ; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a re-
dress of such grievances as the delegated powers of this Govern-
ment may warrant it to consider and redress.

( 10) A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of
a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not
be infringed.

(11) No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house
without the consent of the owner ; nor in time of war, but in a man-
ner to be prescribed by law.

(12) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,

Constitution for the Provisional Government. 7

papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizure-
shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon prob-
able cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly de-
scribing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be

(13) No person shall be held to answer for a capital or other-
wise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a
grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or
in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public
danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be
twice put in jeopardy of life or limb ; nor shall be compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of
life, liberty, or property without due process of law ; nor shall
private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

(14) In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the
right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State
and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which
district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation ; to be con-
fronted with the witnesses against him ; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor ; and to have the as-
sistance of counsel for his defense.

(15) In suits at common law, where the value in controversy
shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be pre-
served ; and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined
in any court of the Confederacy than according to the rules of the
common law.

(16) Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

(17) The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the

(18) The powers not delegated to the Confederacy by the Con-
stitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people.

(19) The judicial power of the Confederacy shall not be con-
strued to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prose-

Online LibraryConfederate States of America. PresidentThe messages and papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, including diplomatic correspondence, 1861-1865 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 59)