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MESSAGE OF JEFFERSON DAVIS.
Message of Jefferson Davis.
deceived into a mistaken securi- | ed in the report of the head of
ty, were unarmed and in danger
of being subjugated by the Fed eral forces, our armies were marched into that State to repel the enemy and prevent their occupation of certain strategic points which would have given them great advantages in the contest-a step which was not only justified by the necessity of self-defense on the part of the Confederate States, but also by a desire to aid the people of Kentucky. It was never intended by the Confederate Government to conquer or coerce the people of that State, but, on the contrary, it was declared by our generals that they would withdraw their troops if the Federal | Government would do likewise. Proclamation was also made of our desire to respect the neutrality of Kentucky, and the intention to abide by the wishes of her people as soon as they were free to express their opinions. These declarations were approved by me, and I should regard it as one of the best effects of the march of our troops into Kentucky if it should aid in giving to her people liberty of choice and a free opportunity to decide their own destiny according to their own will.
"The army has been chiefly instrumental in prosecuting the great contest in which we are engaged, but the navy has also been effective in full proportion to its means. The naval officers, deprived to a great extent of an opportunity to make their professional skill available at sea, have served with commendable zeal and gallantry on shore and upon island waters, further detail of which will be found in the reports of the Secretary of the Navy and the Secsetary of War.
"In the transportation of the mails many difficulties have arisen, which will be found fully developed in the report of the Postmaster-General. The absorption of the ordinary means of transportation for the movement of troops and military supplies, the insufficiency of the rolling stock of railroads for the accumulation of business, resulting both from military operations and the obstruction of water communication by the presence of the enemy's fleet, the failure and even refusal of contractors to comply with the terms of their agreements, the difficulties inherent in inaugurating so vast and complicated a system as that which requires postal facilities for every town and village in a Territory so extended as ours, have all combined to impede the best directed efforts of the Postmaster General, whose zeal, industry and ability, have been taxed to the utmost extent. Some of these difficulties can only be overcome by time and an improved condition of the country upon the restoration of peace, but others may be remedied by legislation, and your attention is invited to the recommendation contain
"The condition of the treas
Message of Jefferson Davis.
ury will, doubtless, be a subject of anxious inquiry on your part. I am happy to say that the financiai system already adopted has worked well so far, and promises good results for the future.
"To the extent that treasury notes may be issued, the Government is enabled to borrow money with out interest, and thus facilitate the conduct of the war. This extent is measured by the portion of the field of circulation which these notes can be made to occupy. The proportion of the field thus occupied depends again upon the amount of the debts for which they are receivable, and dues, not only to the Confederate but State Governments, but also to corporations and individuals, are payable in this medium. A large amount of it may be circulated at par. There is every reason to believe that the Confederate treasury note is fast becoming such a medium. The provision that these notes shall be convertible into Confederate stock, bearing eight per cent. interest, at the pleasure of the holder, insures them against a depreciation below the value of that stock, and no considerable fall in that value need be feared, so long as the interest shall be punctually paid. The punctual payment of this interest has been secured by the act passed by you at the last session, imposing such a rate of taxation as must provide sufficient means for that purpose.
"For the successful prosecution of this war it is indispensable that the means of transporting troops and military supplies be furnished, as far as possible in such manner as not to interrupt the commercia' intercourse between our people, nor place a check upon their productive energies. To this end the means of transportation from one section of our country to the other must be carefully guarded and improved; and this should be the object of anxious care on the part of the State and Confederate Governments, so far as they have power over the subject. We have already two main systems of through trans portation from north to south. One from Richmond, along the seaboard; the other through Western Virginia to New Orleans. A third might be secured by completing a link of about forty miles between Danville, in Virginia, and Greenborough, North Carolina. The construction of this comparatively short line would give us a through route from north to south in the interior of the Confederate States, and give us access to a population and to military resources from which we are now in a great measure debarred. We should increase greatly the safety and capacity of our means for transporting men and military supplies. If the construction of the road should, in the judgment of Congress, as it is in
Message of Jefferson Davis.
mine, be indispensable for the | most successful prosecution of the war, the action of the Government will not be restrained by the constitutional objection which would attach to a work for commercial purposes; and attention is invited to the practicability of securing its early completion by giving the needful aid to the company organized for its construction and administration.
"If we husband our means and make a judicious use of our resources, it would be difficult to fix a limit to the period during which we could conduct a war against the adversary whom we now encounter. The very efforts which he makes to desolate and invade us must exhaust his means, whilst they serve to complete the circle and diversify the productions of our industrial system. The reconstruction which he seeks to effect by arms becomes daily more and more palpably impossible. Not only do the causes which induced us to separate still last in full force, but they have been strengthened, and whatever doubt may have lingered on the minds of any must have been completely dispelled by subsequent events. If, instead a dissolution of a league, it were indeed a rebellion in which we are engaged, we might find ample vindication for the course we have adopted in the scenes which are now being enacted in the United States.
"Our people now look with contemptuous astonishment on those with whom they have been so recently associated. They shrink with aversion from the bare idea of renewing such a connection.
"When they see a President making war without the assent of Congress-when they behold judges, threatened because they maintain the writ of habeas corpus, so sacred to freemen-when they see justice and law trampled under the armed heel of military authority, and upright men and innocent women dragged to distant dungeons-when they find all this tolerated and applauded by a people who had been in the full enjoyment of freedom but a few months ago, they believe that there must be some radical incompatability between such a people and themselves. With such a people we may be content to live at peace, but our separation from them is final; for the independence we have asserted we will accept no alternative.
"The nature of the hostilities which they have waged against us must be characterized as barbarous whenever it is understood. They have bombarded undefended villages, without giving notice to women and children to enable them to escape, and in one instance selected the night as the period when they might surprise them most effectually whilst asleep and unconscious of danger. Arson and rapine, the destruction of private houses and proper
Message of Jefferson Davis.
ty, and injuries of the most wan-
"If they convert their soldiers into incendiaries and robbers, and involve us in a species of war which claims non-combatants-women and children -as its victims, they must expect to be treated as outlaws and enemies of mankind.
"There are certain rights of humanity which are entitled to respect even in war, and he who refuses to regard them forfeits his claim if captured, to be considered a prisoner of war, and must expect to be dealt with as an offender against all law, human and divine.
"But not content with violating our rights under the law of nations at home, they have extended these injuries to us within other jurisdictions. The distinguished gentlemen, whom, with your approval at the last session, I commissioned to represent the Confederacy at certain foreign courts, have been recently seized by the captain of a United States ship-of-war while on board a British mail steamer on their voyage from the neutral Spanish port of Ha. vana to England. The United States have thus claimed a general jurisdiction over the high seas, and entering a British ship, sailing under its country's flag, violated the rights of embassy, for the most part held sacred, even among barbarians, by siezing ministers whilst under the protection and within the dominions of a neutral nation. These gentlemen were as much under the jurisdiction of the British Government, upon that ship and beneath hat flag, as if they had been on its soil, and a claim on the part of the United States to seize them in the streets of London would have been as well founded as that to apprehend them where they were taken. Had they been malefactors, and citizens even of the United States, they could not have been arrested on a British ship or on British soil, unless under the express provisions of a treaty, and according to the forms therein provided for the next extradition of criminals. But rights the most sacred seem to have lost all respect in their eyes.
"When Mr. Faulkner, a former minister of the United States to France, commissioned before the secession of Virginia, his native State, returned in good faith to Washington to settle his accounts and fulfil all the obligations into which he had entered, he was perfidiously arrested and imprisoned in New
Message of Jefferson Davis.
MESSAGE OF JEFFERSON DAVIS.
York, where he now is. The unsuspecting confidence with which he reported to his Government was abused, and his desire to fulfil his trust to them was used to his injury.
"In conducting this war, we have sought no aid and proffered no alliances offensive and defensive abroad. We have asked for a recognized place in the family of nations; but, in doing so, we have demanded nothing for which we did not offer a fair equivalent. The advantages of intercourse are mu tual among nations, and in seeking to establish diplomatic relations we were only endeavoring to place that intercourse under the regulation of public law.
Perhaps we had the right, if we had chosen to exercise it, to ask to know whether the principle, that blockades to be binding must be effectual, so solemnly announced by the great powers of Europe at Paris, is to be generally enforced or applied only to particular parties.
"When the Confederate States, at your last session, became a party to the declaration reaffirming this principle of international law, which has been recognized so long by publicists and governments, we certainly supposed that it was to be universally euforced. The customary law of nations is made up of their practice rather than their declarations, and if such declarations are only to be enforced in particular instances at the pleasure of those who make them, then the commerce of the world, so far from being placed under the regulation of a general law, will become subject to the caprice of those who execute it or suspend it at will. If such is to be the course of nations in regard to this law, it is plain thet it will thus become a rule for the weak and not for the strong.
"Feeling that such views must be taken by the neutral nations of the earth, I have caused the evidence to be collected which proves completely the utter inefficiency of the proclaimed blockade of our coast, and shall direct it to be laid before such governments as shall afford us the means of being heard.
"But although we should be benefitted by the enforcement of this law, so solemnly declared by the great powers of Europe, we are not dependent on
that enforcement for the successful prosecution of As long as hostilities continue the Con
the war. federate States will exhibit a steady increasing capacity to furnish their troops with food, clothing and arms. If they should be forced to forego many of the luxuries and some of the comforts of life, they will at least have the consolation of knowing that they are thus daily becoming more and more independent of the rest of the world. If, in this process,
Message of Jefferson Davis.
labor in the Confederate States should be gradually diverted from those great southern staples which have given life to so much of the commerce of mankind into other channels, so as to make them rival producers, instead of profitable customers, they will not be the only or even the chief losers by this change in the direction of their industry.
"Although it is true that the cotton supply from the Southern States could only be totally cut off by the subversion of our social system, yet it is plain that a long continuance of this blockade might, hy a diversion of labor and investment of capital in other employments, so diminish the supplies as to bring ruin upon all those interests of foreign countries which are dependent on that staple. For every laborer who is diverted from the culture of cotton in the South, perhaps four times as many elsewhere, who have found subsistence in the various employments growing out of its use, will be forced also to change their occupation.
"While the war which is waged to take from us the right of self-government can never attain that end, it remains to be seen how far it may work a revolution in the industrial system of the world, which may carry suffering to other lands as well as to our own.
"In the meantime, we shall continue this strug gle in humble dependence upon Providence, from whose searching scrutiny we cannot conceal the secrets of our hearts, and to whose rule we confidently submit. For the rest we shall depend upon ourselves.
"Liberty is always won where there exists the unconquerable will to be free, and we have reason to know the strength that is given by a conscious sense not only of the magnitude but of the right. eousness of our cause.
The Purposes of the Message.
"Richmond, Nov. 18th, 1861." This document possessed a double interest-for what it said and for what it left unsaid. In the first place there was no call for it-as the Confederate "Congress" was yet in old session. It was issued mainly and chiefly for a foreign market. The dispatch of special agents to Europe was to further the cause of intervention, or, at least, of recognition. Their arrest on the high seas sent a thrill of disappointment throughout the South which soon gave place to a thrill of hope that the arrest would embroil the Federal Government with England. The mes
The Purposes of the
practiced by a few men. The announcement made above was the first knowledge the great mass of the Missouri people had of their State's secession! It answered the purpose of strengthening the Confederate "Congress" by the addition of several self-constituted "members" from Missouri, and the State, therefore, was in the Southern Confederacy whether the people would or not. What sublime assurance-what infamous disregard of the first principles of republican
sage made a bid, at the propitious moment, for the Queen's and Emperor's faIts tone of pious confidence in the ways of Providence-its calm audacity in misstatement and misconstruction-its spirit of defiance toward the Federal Government-its suppression of the truth in regard to the progress of the Federal arms-all were harmless in American circles, and, equally so in European circles when the whole truth became known; but, the document served its tempo-government! rary purpose of inspiriting Davis' friends abroad to renewed exertions in behalf of the embryo Slave Republic, and that was the secret of its promulgation. Doings of the Con
The Confederate Congress still sat in secret ses
sion. No legislation of any public importance was done openly. All was a Star Chamber to the people, who only knew of what had been done for them, or to them, when the laws were promulgated for their enforcement. The Czar of the Russias never exercised a more autocratic prerogative over the serfs of his realm than the Congress of the South over the Southern people. That the entire parliament was a mockery, will appear from the confessions of Southern journals. Thus the Richmond Dispatch of November 28th, said:
“The Provisional Congress still holds its sessions with closed doors, and we are unable to furnish our readers with any detail of the proceedings. The President sent in on Tuesday a message concerning the secession of Missouri. It was accompanied by an able letter from Governor Jackson, and also by an act dissolving the Union with the United States, and an act ratifying the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States; also,
the Convention between the Commissioners of Missouri and the Commissioners of the Confederate States. Congress unanimously ratified the Conven
tion entered into between the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, for this Government, and the commissioners for Missouri. On yesterday we understand that Congress passed a law admitting Missouri into the Confederacy. Congress refused to make any advances on, or the purchase of, the produce of planters, and much surprise was expressed that such a proposition should have been made."
This "secession" of Missouri illustrates our iuferences regarding the usurpation of power
December 11th another batch of laws passed in secret session was made publie, when the world was informed that Kentucky was, also, a member of the Confederacy—admitted to full equality with the other States of the Confederation. Here, again came "Satan's gospel doubly sealed." The Russellville Convention, [see page 420,] composed of about forty renegades from loyalty, instituted a "provisional government," elected a Governor and Council, and these eleven functionaries, in turn, elected Kentucky's members to the Confederate Congress. These members, thus delegated, were received" upon an equal footing" with the representatives of other States, and Kentucky became a constituent of the Southern Confederacy.
A Reign of Ty.
It will be a painful task for any State Rights advocate to give the Confederate Congress a legal status even under the State sovereignty doctrine. It was, in no manner, chosen by the people; it was, in a great measure, self-constituted, and, in its inflexible secret legislation, ignored States as well as the people. If the States were sovereign, it was supreme; if "provisional,” it arrogated permanent power. Embittered by designing leaders, inflamed by a wicked press, misinformed, misdirected, the people of the South gave themselves over to the tyranny of Conventions and Congress, to become instruments for their own persecution.* * See Appendix, page for the Report of the Special Committee, appointed by the Virginia State Convention, to consider and report amendments to the State Organic law. This document, startling as were its recommendations and views, fully represented the influence paramount in every Southern State Convention and in the Confederate Congress.
Yet, the Southern Executive and his agents | was not so well prepared as was desirable, still she incessantly reviled the President and Con- was better prepared than most of her Southern sis. gress of the United States for their " usurpa- | ters better perhaps than any one of them. For tions and their disregard of the Constitusome time anterior to the secession she had been engaged in tion!" It was Satan anathematizing Gathe purchase of arms of different kinds, ammunition, and other necessary articles, and in mounting artillery, in anbriel. ticipation of the event which subsequently occurred.
Danton, being asked to define the best policy to insure the success of the French Revolution, answered: Be audacious!" The Southern leaders had learned a lesson from Danton.
* "Prior to the secession of the State,
indeed, from the commencement of my Gubernato-
We need not refer to the swer to this recommendation, the General Assembly
Southern Currency. legislation of the Confede-appropriated one hundred and eighty thousand dol rate Congress up to the date of Davis' in- lars in bonds, to be expended in the purchase of
stallation, (February 22d, 1862.) It was chiefly devoted to strengthening the hands of the Government and the War Department. The utter failure of its schemes for raising means of the "National Loan" fund, the Cotton and Produce loan fund, &c.-compelled the direct resort to Government issues of script, bonds and demand notes, in quantities to meet the requirements of their exchequer. These were floated if not funded, and their value soon became apparent in the rise of every species of property except that of slaves and taxable estate. These appeared to depreciate in price, in proportion to their liability, the first to escape and the second to taxation. The blockade had little to do with the prices of home produce. That soon reached enormous prices-in Confederate money, reminding us of the days when a hat full of Continental currency was paid for a dinner.
The messages of Governors Letcher, of Virginia (Dec. 2d), Brown, of Georgia (Nov. 19th), Moore, of Louisiana (Nov. 28th), and the inaugural address of Pettus, of Mississippi, of Pickens, of South Carolina, (November 10)—all breathed the spirit of resistance to the last extremity. Some of the revelations made by Letcher were particularly significant, as showing that the Southern leaders had, as early as the summer of 1860, resolved upon their course; and, so far as secresy would permit, had prepared the materiel for a successful defense against coercion. He said: "For this struggle, so suddenly commenced, Virginia had for some time been making such preparations as her means enabled her to make; and although she
arms, equipments and munitions of war. If we could then have purchased all the arms which we desired to obtain, our State would have been in better con
dition to repel the assaults of the Federal Executive. At the time we made the purchase of five thousand muskets from the Federal Government we desired to purchase ten thousand additional, but the authorities declined to sell them to us, although five times the number were then in the Arsenal at Washington."
These "purchases" were, it will be understood, in addition to the large amount of arms in the Arsenal, supplied by the Federal Government. Secretary of War, Floyd, was busy during the spring and summer of 1860 in dispatching to the Southern State Arsenals their quotas for 1861 as well as for 1860. Evidence, also, is not wanting to show that, during the summer of 1860. not only State authorities but leading men of the South made large purchases in the North of rifles, revolvers and English muskets. These purchases were very secretly made, and the amount of arms so secured may never be correctly ascertained; but, that it was large was evident from the generous supply of good field arms held by the several rebellious States at the moment their quotas were put in service. Of artillery only a small supply was available until the Harper's Ferry seizure and the Norfolk (Gosport) Navy Yard disaster placed the rebels in possession of a superb field and fort armament. So inefficient was the destruction of property at Norfolk that Governor Letcher confessed the great portion of the ammunition "used in the war" was secured there. That Norfolk "disaster" certainly was a Godsend to the rebels. Without it the entire South could not have mustered a dozen efficient batteries over and above what was