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[SECT. VIII.

urged most vehemently the putting of the whole country under military law, in order to counteract all such attempts at withdrawal." The same authority says "that state rights and state sovereignty no longer exist south of the Potomac River; that in that once happy but now forlorn region, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of jury trial, and, in fact, all the muniments of civil liberty most highly prized in countries actually free, are completely prostrated; that corruption and imbecility sit grimly enthroned where it was once hoped that virtue and ability would exercise supreme sway; and that a selfish, hypocritical, and tyrannical executive chief, unblushingly sanctioned and sustained by a servile and incompetent Congress, has well-nigh deprived a high-spirited and eminently chivalrous people of all ground of hope as to their own future safety and happiness."

In theory the Confederacy was founded upon state sovereignty, and its consequence state rights;

Necessity of a cen

Confederacy.

tral power in the but scarcely had the secession movement begun when it was discovered, as had been discovered eighty-five years before, in the war of the colonies with England, that the object in view could never be gained by a feebly-joined league of quarrelsome states. It demanded a central--a national power. Even "in Richmond itself, as soon as the ordinance of secession was passed, many persons had come to the conclusion that it was best to obliterate state lines, and merge all the South into one indivisible nation or empire. They thought the old, cumbrous, complicated machinery could not be maintained. It was said, state rights gave us the right to secede; but what is in a name?"

It was not possible that the government should be any thing else than a military despotism, and accordingly that it forthwith became. The plea of state necessity overrode every thing, and justified every thing.

160

TREATMENT OF STATE RIGHTS.

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CHAP. XLII.] THE CONFEDERATE EXTRA SESSION.

161

This session of the Confederate Congress lasted from the 29th of April to the 22d of May, much of its business being transacted in secret. Among its more important public acts may be mentioned a recognition that war with the United States was existing, and an authorization of the issue of letters of marque. A patent-office was established, and a bill passed for the issue of fifty millions of dollars in bonds. Citizens of the Confederate States were prohibited paying to citizens of the United States any debt due. Those owing such debts were directed to pay them into the Confederate treasury. When the Congress adjourned, it adjourned to meet in Richmond on the 20th of July.

to the

mond.

But this transfer did not meet with unanimous approval in the South. Davis himself, in the transfer to Rich- first instance, objected to it, and vetoed the bill authorizing it. A strong opposition to it existed in the Gulf States, founded on an apprehension that it would enable the Virginians to do as they had done in the Union, and engross too much of office and patronage. However, like the provision in the Constitution against the reopening of the slave-trade, it was one of the stipulated conditions on which the secession of Virginia was obtained, and there can be no doubt that, by many who were not completely informed of the intentions of the master-minds who were projecting a great slave empire, the establishment of the Confederate government at Richmond was regarded as a temporary affair.

The Congress assembled at Richmond transacted much of its business in secret session. Recogniz ing, as did that of the United States, that it had a great war on its hands, it, immediately after the battle of Bull Run, authorized the raising of 400,000 men. It provided for the issue of one hundred millions of dollars in treasury notes, payable six months after the ratifi

Acts of the extra session.

Acts of the Congress at Richmond.

THE CONGRESS AT RICHMOND.

162

[SECT. VIII.

cation of peace; and the same amount in bonds, bearing eight per cent. interest, and payable in twenty years; the imposition of a war tax of half of one per cent. on all real and personal property, including slaves, but excepting persons whose property was less than four hundred dollars. It authorized the seizure of all telegraphic lines; the appointment by the President of agents to supervise all communications passing over them; the forbidding of communications in cipher, or such as were of an enig matical character; the banishment of all alien enemies; the confiscation of their property, with the exception of debts due to them from the Confederacy or a confeder ated state. Every male thus liable to banishment, if above fourteen years of age, was required to leave the Confederacy within forty days; if he lingered beyond that time he was to be imprisoned, and then removed; if he returned, he was to be dealt with as a spy or pris oner of war. In retaliation for the Confiscation Act of the United States, measures of the strictest kind for the dis covery of property of alien enemies were enacted. Every citizen in the Confederacy was required to tell all he knew about such matters, and that voluntarily, and without being specially interrogated. Should he fail of this, he was to be held guilty of a misdemeanor, to be fined not more than $5000, imprisoned not more than six months, and be liable to pay double the value of the property in question. It was anticipated that these measures would bring three hundred millions of dollars into the Confederate treasury. That result, however, was not attained. The Sequestration Bill was passed on August 6th, 1861, and the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury reported that, up to September 30th, 1863, the treasury had received from sequestration less than two millions of dollars ($1,862,650).

In this, its first session at Richmond, an act was also

CHAP. XLII.]

THE PERMANENT CONGRESS.

163

passed directing the form under which evidence should be taken respecting abducted slaves, with a view to the exaction of indemnity subsequently from the United States; and an act to aid the State of Missouri in repelling invasion. The adjournment was to the 18th of November.

From the beginning the Confederate government had constituted itself a Committee of Public

Despotic character

government.

of the Confederate Safety. No committee in the French Revolution was more vindictive, more terrible in its acts. In its eyes neutrality was the highest crime. Nothing was sacred; nothing was spared that stood between it and its purposes.

Session of the 18th

The session commencing on the 18th of November provided for the increase of the naval force and of November. the enlistment of 2000 seamen. It made appropriations of sixty millions for the army and four millions for the navy; but all its important measures were transacted in secret.

The permanent Congress succeeded the provisional on the 18th of February, 1862. Mr. Davis was inaugurated as permanent President four days subsequently. The day was very rainy, and the festivities, as described by an eye-witness, lugubrious. "The permanent government had its birth in a storm."

Legislation respect

The state of the army was the first object of the attention of Congress. The sessions were for the ing the army most part secret. In his message the President had said, " Events have demonstrated that the gov ernment has attempted more than it had the power suc cessfully to achieve. Hence, in the effort to protect by our arms the whole territory of the Confederate States, sea-board and inland, we have been so exposed as recently to suffer great disasters." But, in truth, it was not the diffusion of the military force that gave disquiet; it was

The permanent
Congress.

164

WAR LEGISLATION.

[SECT. VIII.

the too plainly recognized decline of the military spirit that caused the alarm. The term of those soldiers who had enlisted for a year was about to expire. They had found, by fearful experience, that each Southerner was not equal to five Yankees. The first enthusiasm had altogether died out. The delusion that there would be no war had passed away. Every one now knew that there would be a long and dreadful war, and that instead of pageantry and pomp there would be hardships, mutila tion, and death.

the war.

The want of military success to which Davis alluded and the conduct of was attributed by many to the faulty manner in which the war was carried on. There was a clamor that the Confederacy, instead of remaining on the defensive, should throw its armies into the ene my's country. Scarcely had the session opened when a resolution (February 20th) was offered to that effect, and complaint made that some one was imposing defensive war on the country. A bill was reported to indemnify owners of cotton, tobacco, and other produce destroyed to prevent its capture by the enemy. The Senate adopted a resolution (February 27th) to the effect that no peace propositions should be entertained which surrendered any portion of the Confederate States, and that war must be continued until the enemy was expelled from Confederate territory. In the House a resolution was passed advising the non-cultivation of cotton and tobacco, and the raising of provisions in their stead. After the disaster of Fort Donelson, a message was received from the President to the effect that he had suspended Generals Floyd and Pillow; the former officer was, however, subsequently reinstated at the request of the Legislature of Virginia. A remorseless conscription law was now (April

16th) passed. It annulled all previous contracts with volunteers; it took every man between the

The Conscription
Act.

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