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OPENING OF CONGRESSASPECT OF AFFAIRS-PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE-THE
QUESTION OF FINANCE-TAX BILIARMY AND NAVAL FORCE OF THE
AND HALLECK AT THE WEST-THE INDIANS TAKE PART IN THE REBELLION
MA BATTLE BETWEEN THEM-AFFAIRS IN MISBOURI-BATTLE OF MILFORD
N the beginning of December, public attention was di
verted for a moment from operations in the field to the upening of Congress. It met under peculiar circumstances; for the army it had in the summer authorized the President to raise, had effected comparatively nothing--the young commander of whom so much had been expected, still remained on the Potomac—the Capital was blockaded and beleaguered—the vast sum it had voted for the war had proved to be but a drop in the bucket, and even much of that had been recklessly squandered—the President had assumed vast and unprecedented powers, and must either be sustained or condemned-our foreign relations were in 2 precarious state--the country d:ssatisfied and agitated, and the Cabinet itself believed to be discordant. To add to this gloomy state of affairs, there was not a leading mind in either branch of Congress to whom the country could look with confidence.
For the first time in the history of the Republic, the west was the controlling power, and would its action be prudent and conservative or rash and radical, was a question that each one felt to be of vital importance. The President's
message was calm and confident, but like all his other state papers, not belligerent enough to suit the popular feeling.
Congress had appointed a committee at its previous session to investigate the stupendous frauds that had crept into the contract system, of which Mr. Van Wyck was chairman; and startling developments were expected to be made in its report. A system of finance was to be adopted that would test the resources of the country to the utmost. Besides all this, a radical element was sure to be present in great force, demanding an immediate act of emancipation as the only way to terminate the rebellion, of which slavery was declared to be the root and cause. Fears were also entertained that Congress might propose to take the conduct of the war into its own hands, or at least force the President. from the policy he had adopted. It, however, (much to the relief of the fearful,) showed no inclination to embarrass the administration. The subject of finance at once took the lead of all other questions. Congress had shown itself willing enough to vote any sums that might be wanted to 'crush the rebellion, but when it cast about for the ways and means by which to raise the money, it was staggered.
A high tariff would not furnish a moiety of the amount nceded. A direct tax sufficiently heavy could not be levied, for the Constitution required that all direct taxation should bu laid according to representation; and to levy a tax ac. cording to population, and not according to property, would be very unequal between the eastern and western statesindeed, intolerably oppressive. The government could not borrow money in such vast amounts without a better security than the revenue of the customs or its simple note of hand. In this dilemma, Congress was forced at length to see that it must resort to internal taxation. It was very hard to confess that we must adopt a system that had beg. gared the old world, but there was no help for it.
ESCAPE OF THE SUMTER.
therefore resolved to issue a hundred and fifty millions in treasury notes, and perfect il tax bill that would secure the interest on the amount. This was not only unpalatable, but novel legislation, and the committee appointed to bring in a tax bill achieved but poor success in perfecting it. But having resolved on the measure as a necessity, they went to work with such desperate energy and thoroughness that they soon presented a system of taxation that quite eclipsed the English mode, and mule the assessors' duties partake very much of the nature of clomiciliary visits. It was very evident that such a bill. before it could pass both Houses of Congress, would receive very many modifications. ·
The reports of the Secretaries of War and the Navy showed that the government had in service for the suppres sion of the rebellion, six hundred and eighty-two thousand nine hundred and seventy-one soldiers, divided as follows: volunteer militia, six hundred and forty-two thousand six hundred and thirty-seven; regular army, twenty thousand three hundred and thirty-four; seamen and marines, twenty-two thousand. The rebels, alarmed at the immense force we were arraying again:t them, and finding that they could not raise one to match it by the volunteer systerr. Tesorted to drafting, which caused much dissatisfaction at the south.
In the beginning of this month, news was received of the escape of the privateer Sumter from the port of Martinique where she had been a long time blockaded by the Iroquois, Captain Paluner commanding. The country had thought she was caught at last, and when it was told she had got sarely to sea ugain, the deepest mortification was felt, and Palmer was bitterly denounced on every side. The government shared in the general indignation, and superseded him in the command of the vessel. On after investigation, however, it was ascertained that he was not to blame. The authorities
INDIANS IN THE FIELD.
of the place threw every obstacle in his way, compelling him to keep outside of the harbor, where hc had an extent of ffteen miles to watch. The Sumter, taking advantage of a dark night, succeeded in dodging her adversary, and under shadow of the land crept safely to sea.
The facts being made known, Palmer was acquitted of all blame and placed in honorable command.
West, General John Pope was assigned to the command of all the national troops between the Missouri and Osage rivers, in Missouri. His force consisted of the largest part of the army which Fremont took to Springfield. This officer, by his energy and boldness, was soon to change the aspect of affairs in that part of the state. Halleck, in the mean time, issued the most stringent orders against the rebels, and the power of the government began to be felt in every part of that distracted state. All this while, minor engagements were continually taking place in various sections. In Arkansas a fight occurred near Bashy creek, between the rebels under Colonel Cooper and a Union Chero.ee chief O-pothley-ho-lo. The Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks fought on the rebel side; and we had the strange exhibition in this war of the Union, of Indian armies meeting in the same contest which shook the Atlantic coast. The war whoop was heard, and the scalping knife did its barbaric work among the red men of the west, in a struggle for the supremacy of the Federal government. The rebel leaders had stirred up sedition even there, and armed the savages of the frontier against American citizens. Albert Pike, the poet, was conspicuous in this nefarious business, and has thus consigned his name to eternal infamy. The loyal Indians driven from their homes suffered great hardships during the winter.
West of the Mississippi the war was assuming a vindictive character, and burning towns, sacked houses, with roving bands of marauders, and homeless fugitives, made the state
POPE IN THE FIELD.
of Missouri a scene of devastation. Pope, however, was