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The Message of Jefferson Davis.
by themselves; and but for the interference of the Government of the United States in this legitimate exercise of the right of a people to selfgovernment, peace, happiness, and prosperity would now smile on our land.
"That peace is ardently desired by this Government and people, has been manifested in every possible form. Scarce had you assembled in February last, when, prior even to the inauguration of the Chief Magistrate you had elected, you passed a resolution expressive of your desire for the appointment of Commissioners to be sent to the Government of the United States, for the purpose of negotiating friendly relations between that Government and the Confederate States of America, and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between the two Governments upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith.'
"It was my pleasure, as well as my duty, to cooperate with you in this work of peace. Indeed, in my address to you on taking the oath of office, and before receiving from you the communication of this resolution, I had said, 'as a necessity, not a choice, we have resorted to the remedy of separation, and henceforth our energies must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs, and the perpetuity of the Confederacy which we have formed. If a just perception of mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our separate political career, my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled.'
"It was in furtherance of these accordant views of the Congress and the Executive, that I made choice of three discreet, able, and distinguished citizens, who repaired to Washington. Aided by their cordial co-operation, and that of the Secretary of State, every effort compatible with self-respect and the dignity of the Confederacy was exhausted before I allowed myself to yield to the conviction that the Government of the United States was determined to attempt the conquest of this people, and that our cherished hopes of peace were unattainable.
"On the arrival of our Commissioners in Washington, on the 5th of March, they postponed, at the suggestion of a friendly intermediary, doing no more than giving informal notice of their arrival. This was done with a view to afford time to the President who had just been inaugurated, for the discharge of other pressing official duties in the organization of his administration, before engaging his attention in the object of their mission. It was not until the 12th of the month that they officially addressed the Secretary of State, informing him of the purpose of their arrival, and stating in the language of their instructions their wish to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
negotiations, assuring the Government of the United States that the President, Congress, and people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great questions; that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded on strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.'
"To this communication no formal reply was received until the 8th of April. During the interval, the Commissioners had consented to wave all questions of form. With the firm resolve to avoid war, if possible, they went so far, even as to hold, during that long period, unofficial intercourse, through an intermediary, whose high position and character inspired the hope of success, and through whom constant assurances were received from the Govern ment of the United States of peaceful intentions; of the determination to evacuate Fort Sumter; and further, that no measures, changing the existing status prejudicially to the Confederate States, especially at Fort Pickens, was in contemplation, but that in the event of any change of intention on the subject, notice would be given to the CommissionThe crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an example so wanting in courtesy, in can. dor and directness, as was the course of the United States Government towards our Commissioners in Washington. For proof of this, I refer to the annexed documents marked taken in connection
with other facts, which I now proceed to relate: Early in April the attention of the whole country, as well as that of our Commissioners, was attracted to extraordinary preparations for an extensive military and naval expedition in New York and other Northern ports. These preparations, commenced in secrecy for an expedition, whose destina. tion was concealed, only became known when nearly completed, and on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April, transports and vessels of war, with troops, munitions, and military supplies 'sailed from Northern ports bound southward. Alarmed by so extraordinary a demonstration, the Commissioners requested the delivery of an answer to their official communication of the 12th of March, and thereupon received, on the 8th of April, a reply dated on the 15th of the previous month, from which it appears that during the whole interval, whilst the Commissioners were receiving assurances calculated to inspire hopes of the success of their mission, the Secretary of State and the President of the United States had already determined to hold no intercourse with them whatever; to refuse even to listen to any proposals they had to make, and had profited by the delay created by their own selfishness, in order to
THE MESSAGE OF
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
retary of War and the papers
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"In this connection I cannot refrain from a well deserved tribute to the noble State, the eminent soldierly qualities of whose people were so conspic uously displayed in the port of Charleston. For months they had been irritated by the spectacle of a fortress held within their principal harbor, as a standing menace against their peace and independence. Built, in part, with their own money, its cus
who held no power over them other than such as they had themselves delegated for their own benefit, intended to be used by that agent for their own protection against foreign attack, they saw it held with persistent tenacity as a means of offense against them by the very Government which they had established for their protection. They had beleaguered it for months-felt entire confidence in their pow er to capture it—yet yielded to the requirements of discipline, curbed their impatience, submitted without complaint to the unaccustomed hardships, labors and privations of a protracted siege; and when at length their patience was rewarded by the signal for attack, and success had crowned their steady and gallant conduct-even in the very moment of triumph-they evinced a chivalrous regard for the
prepare secretly the means for effective hostile operations. "That these assurances are given has been virtually confessed by the Government of the United States by its sending a messenger to Charleston to give notice of its purpose to use force if opposed in its intention of supplying Fort Sumter. No more striking proof of the absence of good faith in the conduct of the Government of the United States towards this Confederacy can be required than is contained in the circumstances which accompanied this notice. According to the usual course of navigation, the ves-tody confided with their own consent to an agent sels composing the expedition designed for the relief of Fort Sumter, might be expected to reach Charleston harbor on the 9th April; yet with our Commissioners actually in Washington, detained under assurances that notice should be given of any military movement, the notice was not addressed to them, but a messenger was sent to Charleston to give the notice to the Governor of South Carolina, and the notice was so given at a late hour on the 8th April, the eve of the very day on which the fleet might be expected to arrive. That this manœuvre failed in its purpose was not the fault of those who contrived it. A heavy tempest defeated the arrival of the expedition, and gave time to the commander of our forces at Charleston to ask and receive the instructions of this Government. Even then, under all the provocation incident to the contemptuous re-feelings of the brave but unfortunate officer who had fa-al to listen to our Commissioners, and the tortuous course of the Government of the United States, I was sincerely anxious to avoid the effusion of blood, and directed a proposal to be made to the commander of Fort Sumter, who had avowed himself to be nearly out of provisions, that we would abstain from directing our fire on Fort Sumter if he would promise not to open fire on our forces unless first attacked. This proposal was refused, and the conclusion was reached that the design of the United States was to place the besieging force at Charleston between the simultaneous fire of the fleet and the fort. There remained, therefore, no alternative but to direct that the fort should at once be reduced. This order was executed by General Beauregard, with the skill and success which were naturally to be expected from the well-known character of that gallant officer; and although the bombardment lasted but thirty-three hours, our flag did not wave over its battered walls until after the appearance Scarcely had the President of the United States of the hostile fleet off Charleston. Fortunately, not received intelligence of the failure of the scheme a life was lost on our side, and we were gratified in which he had devised for the re-enforcement of Fort being spared the necessity of a useless effusion of Sumter, when he issued the declaration of war blood by the prudent caution of the officers who against this Confederacy, which has prompted me commanded the fleet, in abstaining from the evident to convoke you. In this extraordinary production, ly futile effort to enter the harbor for the relief of that high functionary affects total ignorance of the Major Anderson. I refer to the report of the Sec-existence of an independent Government, which,
been compelled to lower his flag. All manifestations of exultation were checked in his presence. Their commanding General, with their cordial approval and the consent of his Government, refrained from imposing any terms that could wound the sensibilities of the commander of the fort. He was permitted to retire with the honors of war-to salute his flag, to depart freely with all his command, and was escorted to the vessel in which he embarked, with the highest marks of respect from those against whom his guns had been so recently directed. Not only does every event connected with the siege reflect the highest honor on South Carolina, but the forbearance of her people and of this Government of making any harsh use of a victory obtained under circumstances of such peculiar provocation, attest to the fullest extent the absence of any purpose beyond securing their own tranquillity, and the sincere desire to avoid the calamities of war.
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possessing the entire and enthu- | plication from persons disposed
siastic devotion of its people, is exercising its fanctions without question over seven sovereign States, over more than five millions of people, and over a territory whose area exceeds half a million of square miles. He terms sovereign States' combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law.' He calls for an army of seventy-five thousand men to act as a posse comitatus in aid of the process of the courts of justice in States where no courts exist whose mandates and decrees are not cheerfully obeyed and respected by a willing people. He avows that the first service to be assigned to the forces called out' will be, not to execute the process of courts, but to capture forts and strongholds situated within the admitted limits of this Confederacy, and garrisoned by its troops; and declares that this effort' is intended to maintain the perpetuity of popular government.' He concludes by commanding the persons composing the combinations aforesaid,' to wit: the five millions of inhabitants of these States, to retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days.'
"I cannot close this review of the acts of the Government of the United States without referring to a proclamation issued by their President under date of 19th inst., in which, after declaring that an insurrection has broken out in this Confederacy against the Government of the United States, he announces a blockade of all the ports of these States, and threatens to punish, as pirates, all persons who shall molest any vessel of the United States under letters of marque by this Government. Notwithstanding the authenticity of this proclamation, you will concur with me that it is hard to believe it could have emanated from a President of the United States. Its announcement of a mere paper blockade is so manifestly a violation of the law of nations, that it would seem incredible that it could have been issued by authority-but conceding this to be the case, so far as the Executive is concerned, it will be difficult to satisfy the people of these States that their late Confederates will sauction its declarations, will determine to ignore the usages of civilized nations, and will inaugurate a war of extermination on both sides, by treating as pirates open enemies acting under authority of commissions issued by an organized Government. If such proclamation was issued, it could only have been published under the sudden influence of passion, and we may rest assur ed mankind will be spared the horrors of the conflict it seems to invite.
Apparently contradictory as are the terms of this singular document, one point was unmistakably evident. The President of the United States called for an army of seventy-five thousand men, whose first service was to be to capture our forts. It was a plain declaration of war, which I was not at liberty to disregard because of my knowledge that, under the Constitution of the United States, the President was usurping a power granted exclusively to the Congress. He is the sole organ of communication between that country and foreign Powers. The law of nations did not permit me to question the author ity of the Executive of a foreign nation to declare war against this Confederacy. Although I might have refrained from taking active measures for our defense, if the States of the Union had all imitated the action of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, by denouncing the call for troops as a constitutional usurpation of power to which they refused to respond, I was not at liberty to disregard the fact that many of the States seemed quite content to submit to the exercise of the power assumed by the President of the United States, and were actively engaged in levying troops to be "The State Department has furnished the neces used for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. sary instructions for three Commissioners who have "Deprived of the aid of Congress at the moment, been sent to England, France, Russia and Belgium, I was under the necessity of confining my action to since your adjournment, to ask our recognition as a a call on the States for volunteers for the common member of the family of nations, and to make with defense, in accordance with the authority you had each of those powers treaties of amity and comconfided to me before your adjournment. I deemed merce. Further steps will be taken to enter into it proper further to issue proclamation inviting ap-like negotiations with the other European powers,
"For the details of the administration of the dif ferent Departments, I refer to the reports of the Secretaries which accompany this message.
THE MESSAGE OF JEFFERSON DAVIS.
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
in pursuance of your resolution, | citizens, and not a single bid passed at the last session. Suf- was made under par. The rapid ficient time has not yet elapsed development of the purpose of since the departure of these Commissioners, for the the President of the United States to invade our soil, receipt of any intelligence from them. As I deem it capture our forts, blockade our ports, and wage war desirable that Commissioners or diplomatic agents against us, induced me to direct that the entire subshould also be sent at an early period to the Inde- scription should be accepted. It will now become pendent American Powers south of our Confederacy, necessary to raise means to a much larger amount to with all of whom it is our interest and earnest wish defray the expenses of maintaining our independence to maintain the most cordial and friendly relations, and repelling invasion. I invite your special attention I suggest the expediency of making the necessary to the subject, and the financial condition of the appropriations for that purpose. Government, with the suggestion of ways and means for the supply of the Treasury, will be presented to you in a separate communication.
"Having been officially notified by the public authorities of the State of Virginia that she had with drawn from the Union, and desired to maintain the closest political relations with us which it was possible at this time to establish, I commissioned Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States, to represent this Government at Richmond. I am happy to inform you that he has concluded a Convention with the State of Virginia by which that honored Commonwealth, so long and justly distinguished among her sister States, and so dear to the hearts of thousands of her children in the Confederate States, has united her power and her fortunes with ours, and become one of us. This Convention, together with the ordinance of Virginia, adopting the Provisional Constitution of the Confederacy, will be laid before you for your constitutional action. I have satisfactory assurances from other of our late confederates, that they are on the point of adopting similar measures, and I cannot doubt that ere you shall have been many weeks in session, the whole of the Slaveholding States of the late Union will respond to the call of honor and affection, and by uniting their fortunes with ours, promote our common interests and secure our common safety.
"In the Treasury Department, regulations have been devised and put into execution for carrying out the policy indicated in your legislation on the subject of the navigation of the Mississippi River, as well as for the collection of revenue on the frontier. Free transit has been secured for vessels and merchandise passing through the Confederate States; and delay and inconvenience have been avoided as far as possible in organizing the revenue service for the various railways entering our territory. As fast as experience shall indicate the possibility of improvement in these regulations, no efforts will be spared to free commerce from all unnecessary embarrassments and obstructions.
"To the Department of Justice you have confided not only the organization and supervision of all matters connected with the Courts of Justice, but also those connected with Patents and with the Bureau of Public Printing.
"Since your adjournment, all the Courts, with the exception of those of Mississippi and Texas, have been organized by the appointment of Marshals and District Attorneys, and are now prepared for the exercise of their functions.
"In the two States just named, the gentlemen confirmed as judges declined to accept the appointment, and no nominations have yet been made to fill the vacancies. I refer you to the report of the Attorney General, and concur in his recommendation for immediate legislation, especially on the subject of patent rights. Early provisions should be made to secure to the subjects of foreign nations the full enjoyment of their property in valuable inventions, and to extend to our own citizens protection, not only for their own inventions, but for such as may have been assigned to them, or may hereafter be assigned by persons not alien enemies.
"The patent office business is much more exten- . sive and important than had been anticipated. The applications for patents, although confined under the law exclusively to citizens of our Confederacy, average seventy per month, showing the necessity for the prompt organization of a Bureau of Patents.
"The Secretary of War, in his report and accompa nying documents, conveys full information concerning the force, regular, volunteer and provisional, raised and called for under the several acts of Congress, their organization and distribution. Also an account of the expenditures already made, and further estimates for the fiscal year ending on the 18th February, 1862, rendered necessary by recent events. "Under your act authorizing a loan, proposals I refer to his report also, for a full history of the ocwere issued inviting subscriptions for five millions currences in Charleston harbor, prior to and includof dollars, and the call was answered by the prompting the bombardment and reduction of Fort Sumter, subscription of more than eight millions by our own and of the measures subsequently taken for the com
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
mon defense, on receiving intelligence of the declaration of war against us made by the President of the United States. There are now in the field at Charleston, Pensacola, Forts Morgan, Jackson, St. Phillip and Pulaski, nineteen thousand men, and sixteen thousand are now en route for Virginia. It is proposed to organize and hold in readiness for action, in view of the present exigencies of the country, an army of one hundred thousand men. If further force should be needed, the wisdom and patriotism of Congress will be confidently appealed to for authority to call into the field additional numbers of our noble-spirited volunteers, who are constantly tendering service far in excess of our wants.
"The operations of the Navy Department have been necessarily restricted by the fact that sufficient time has not yet elapsed for the purchase or construction of more than a limited number of vessels adapted to the public service. Two vessels purchased have been named the Sumter and Macree, and are now being prepared for sea, at New Orleans, with all possible dispatch. Contracts have also been made at that city with two different establishments for the casting of ordnance, cannon, shot, and shell, with the view to encourage the manufacture of these articles, so indispensable for our defense, at as many points within our territory as possible.
"I call your attention to the recommendation of the Secretary for the establishment of a magazine and laboratory for preparation of ordnance stores, and the necessary appropriation for that purpose. Hitherto such stores have usually been prepared at the Navy-yards, and no appropriation was made at your last session for this object.
"The Secretary also calls attention to the fact that no provision has been made for the payment of invalid pensions to our own citizens. Many of these persons are advanced in life, they have no means of support, and by the secession of these States, have been deprived of their claim against the Government of the United States. I recommend the appropriation of the sum necessary to pay these pensioners, as well as those of the army, whose claims can scarcely exceed $70,000 per annum.
The Message of Jefferson Davis.
| auditor of the Treasury for this Department is necessary, and a plan is submitted for the organization of his Bureau. The great number and magnitude of the accounts of this Department require an increase of the clerical force in the account. ing branch in the Treasury. The revenues of this Department are collected and disbursed in modes peculiar to itself, and require a special Bureau to secure a proper accountability in the administration of its finances.
"I call your attention to the additional legislation required for this Department, to the recommendation for changes in the law fixing the rates of postage on newspapers, periodicals and sealed packages of certain kinds, and specially to the recommendation of the Secretary, in which I concur, that you provide at once for the assumption by him of the control of our entire postal service.
"In the military organization of the States, provision is made for Brigadier and Major-Generals; but in the army of the Confederate States the highest grade is that of Brigadier-General. Hence it will no doubt sometimes occur that where troops of the Confederacy do duty with the militia, the General selected for the command and possessed of the views and purposes of this Government, will be superseded by an officer of the militia not having the same advantages. To avoid this contingency in the least objectionable manner, I recommend that additional rank be given to the General of the Confederate army, and concurring in the policy of hav ing but one grade of Generals in the army of the Confederacy, Lrecommend that the law of its organization be amended, so that the grade be that of General.
"To secure a thorough military education, it is deemed essential that officers should enter upon the study of their profession at an early period of life, and have elementary instruction in a military school. Until such school shall be established, it is recommended that cadets be appointed and attached to companies until they shall have attained the age and have acquired the knowledge to fit them for the duties of Lieutenants.
"I also call your attention to an omission in the law organizing the army, in relation to military chaplains, and recommend that provision be made for their appointment.
"The Postmaster-General has already succeeded in organizing his department to such an extent as to be in readiness to assume the direction of our postal affairs, on the occurrence of the contingency contemplated by the Act of March 15, 1861, or even "In conclusion, I congratulate you on the fact that, sooner if desired by Congress. The various books in every portion of our country, there has been exand circulars have been prepared and measures taken hibited the most patriotic devotion to our common to secure supplies of blanks, postage stamps, stamp- cause. Transportation companies have freely tened envelopes, mail-bags, locks, keys, &c. He pre-dered the use of their lines for troops and supplies. sents a detailed classification and arrangement of The Presidents of the railroads of the Confederahis clerical force, and asks for its increase. An cy, in company with others who control lines of,