A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I/Provisional Congress, Second Session (Called)




Montgomery, April 29, 1861.

Gentlemen of the Congress: It is my pleasing duty to announce to you that the Constitution framed for the establishment of a permanent Government for the Confederate States has been ratified by conventions in each of those States to which it was referred. To inaugurate the Government in its full proportions and upon its own substantial basis of the popular will, it only remains that elections should be held for the designation of the officers to administer it. There is every reason to believe that at no distant day other States, identified in political principles and community of interests with those which you represent, will join this Confederacy, giving to its typical constellation increased splendor, to its Government of free, equal, and sovereign States a wider sphere of usefulness, and to the friends of constitutional liberty a greater security for its harmonious and perpetual existence. It was not, however, for the purpose of making this announcement that I have deemed it my duty to convoke you at an earlier day than that fixed by yourselves for your meeting. The declaration of war made against this Confederacy by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, in his proclamation issued on the 15th day of the present month, rendered it necessary, in my judgment, that you should convene at the earliest practicable moment to devise the measures necessary for the defense of the country. The occasion is indeed an extraordinary one. It justifies me in a brief review of the relations heretofore existing between us and the States which now unite in warfare against us and in a succinct statement of the events which have resulted in this warfare, to the end that mankind may pass intelligent and impartial judgment on its motives and objects. During the war waged against Great Britain by her colonies on this continent a common danger impelled them to a close alliance and to the formation of a Confederation, by the terms of which the colonies, styling themselves States, entered "severally into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever." In order to guard against any misconstruction of their compact, the several States made explicit declaration in a distinct article—that "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled."

Under this contract of alliance, the war of the Revolution was successfully waged, and resulted in the treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1783, by the terms of which the several States were each by name recognized to be independent. The Articles of Confederation contained a clause whereby all alterations were prohibited unless confirmed by the Legislatures of every State after being agreed to by the Congress; and in obedience to this provision, under the resolution of Congress of the 21st of February, 1787, the several States appointed delegates who attended a convention "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several Legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union." It was by the delegates chosen by the several States under the resolution just quoted that the Constitution of the United States was framed in 1787 and submitted to the several States for ratification, as shown by the seventh article, which is in these words: "The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same." I have italicized certain words in the quotations just made for the purpose of attracting attention to the singular and marked caution with which the States endeavored in every possible form to exclude the idea that the separate and independent sovereignty of each State was merged into one common government and nation, and the earnest desire they evinced to impress on the Constitution its true character—that of a compact between independent States. The Constitution of 1787, having, however, omitted the clause already recited from the Articles of Confederation, which provided in explicit terms that each State retained its sovereignty and independence, some alarm was felt in the States, when invited to ratify the Constitution, lest this omission should be construed into an abandonment of their cherished principle, and they refused to be satisfied until amendments were added to the Constitution placing beyond any pretense of doubt the reservation by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution.

Strange, indeed, must it appear to the impartial observer, but it is none the less true that all these carefully worded clauses proved unavailing to prevent the rise and growth in the Northern States of a political school which has persistently claimed that the government thus formed was not a compact between States, but was in effect a national government, set up above and over the States. An organization created by the States to secure the blessings of liberty and independence against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted into a machine for their control in their domestic affairs. The creature has been exalted above its creators; the principals have been made subordinate to the agent appointed by themselves. The people of the Southern States, whose almost exclusive occupation was agriculture, early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render the common government subservient to their own purposes by imposing burdens on commerce as a protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests. Long and angry controversies grew out of these attempts, often successful, to benefit one section of the country at the expense of the other. And the danger of disruption arising from this cause was enhanced by the fact that the Northern population was increasing, by immigration and other causes, in a greater ratio than the population of the South. By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right as a majority to govern the minority without control. They learned to listen with impatience to the suggestion of any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their will, and so utterly have the principles of the Constitution been corrupted in the Northern mind that, in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln in March last, he asserts as an axiom, which he plainly deems to be undeniable, that the theory of the Constitution requires that in all cases the majority shall govern; and in another memorable instance the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate to liken the relations between a State and the United States to those which exist between a county and the State in which it is situated and by which it was created. This is the lamentable and fundamental error on which rests the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war against these Confederate States. In addition to the long-continued and deep-seated resentment felt by the Southern States at the persistent abuse of the powers they had delegated to the Congress, for the purpose of enriching the manufacturing and shipping classes of the North at the expense of the South, there has existed for nearly half a century another subject of discord, involving interests of such transcendent magnitude as at all times to create the apprehension in the minds of many devoted lovers of the Union that its permanence was impossible. When the several States delegated certain powers to the United States Congress, a large portion of the laboring population consisted of African slaves imported into the colonies by the mother country. In twelve out of the thirteen States negro slavery existed, and the right of property in slaves was protected by law. This property was recognized in the Constitution, and provision was made against its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in the number of slaves by further importation from Africa was also secured by a clause forbidding Congress to prohibit the slave trade anterior to a certain date, and in no clause can there be found any delegation of power to the Congress authorizing it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detriment, or discouragement of the owners of that species of property, or excluding it from the protection of the Government.

The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interests by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of the acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves. As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves. Fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provision for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed and even murdered in open day solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment, by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theater of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was not "to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity," but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the Government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slave-holding States had augmented from about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the Legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uninterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would "faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed." The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already adverted—the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well-established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.

Having done this, they proceeded to form a new compact amongst themselves by new articles of confederation, which have been also ratified by the conventions of the several States with an approach to unanimity far exceeding that of the conventions which adopted the Constitution of 1787. They have organized their new Government in all its departments; the functions of the executive, legislative, and judicial magistrates are performed in accordance with the will of the people, as displayed not merely in a cheerful acquiescence, but in the enthusiastic support of the Government thus established 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 self-government, 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 coöperate 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 interests 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 coöperation 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 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 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 waive 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 Government of the United States of peaceful intentions; of the determination to evacuate Fort Sumter; and further, that no measure 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 commissioners. The crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an example so wanting in courtesy, in candor, and directness as was the course of the United States Government toward our commissioners in Washington. For proof of this I refer to the annexed documents marked——,[1] taken in connection with further 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 destination 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 hope 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 assurances in order to prepare secretly the means for effective hostile operations. That these assurances were 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 toward this Confederacy can be required than is contained in the circumstances which accompanied this notice. According to the usual course of navigation the vessels composing the expedition designed for the relief of Fort Sumter might be expected to reach Charleston Harbor on the 9th of 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 of April, the eve of the very day on which the fleet might be expected to arrive.

That this maneuver failed in its purpose was not the fault of those who contrived it. A heavy tempest delayed 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 refusal 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 of the hostile fleet off Charleston. Fortunately, not a life was lost on our side, and we were gratified in being spared the necessity of a useless effusion of blood, by the prudent caution of the officers who commanded the fleet in abstaining from the evidently futile effort to enter the harbor for the relief of Major Anderson.

I refer to the report of the Secretary of War, and the papers which accompany it, for further details of this brilliant affair. In this connection I cannot refrain from a well-deserved tribute to the noble State, the eminent soldierly qualities of whose people were so conspicuously 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 custody confided with their own consent to an agent 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 power 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 feelings of the brave but unfortunate officer who had 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 from 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. Scarcely had the President of the United States received intelligence of the failure of the scheme which he had devised for the reënforcement of Fort Sumter, when he issued the declaration of war against this Confederacy which has prompted me to convoke you. In this extraordinary production that high functionary affects total ignorance of the existence of an independent Government, which, possessing the entire and enthusiastic devotion of its people, is exercising its functions without question over seven sovereign States, over more than 5,000,000 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 75,000 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 5,000,000 of inhabitants of these States—"to retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days." Apparently contradictory as are the terms of this singular document, one point is unmistakably evident. The President of the United States called for an army of 75,000 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 authority 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 an unconstitutional 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 used for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. Deprived of the aid of Congress at the moment, I was under the necessity of confining my action to a call on the States for volunteers for the common defense, in accordance with the authority you had confided to me before your adjournment. I deemed it proper, further, to issue proclamation[2] inviting application from persons disposed to aid our defense in private armed vessels on the high seas, to the end that preparations might be made for the immediate issue of letters of marque and reprisal which you alone, under the Constitution, have power to grant. I entertain no doubt you will concur with me in the opinion that in the absence of a fleet of public vessels it will be eminently expedient to supply their place by private armed vessels, so happily styled by the publicists of the United States "the militia of the sea," and so often and justly relied on by them as an efficient and admirable instrument of defensive warfare. I earnestly recommend the immediate passage of a law authorizing me to accept the numerous proposals already received. 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 the 19th instant, 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 issued 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 sanction 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 the 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 assured mankind will be spared the horrors of the conflict it seems to invite.

For the details of the administration of the different Departments I refer to the reports of the Secretaries, which accompany this message.

The State Department has furnished the necessary instructions for three commissioners who have been sent to England, France, Russia, and Belgium since your adjournment to ask our recognition as a member of the family of nations, and to make with each of those powers treaties of amity and commerce. Further steps will be taken to enter into like negotiations with the other European powers, in pursuance of your resolutions passed at the last session. Sufficient time has not yet elapsed since the departure of these commissioners for the receipt of any intelligence from them. As I deem it desirable that commissioners or other diplomatic agents should also be sent at an early period to the independent American powers south of our Confederacy, with all of whom it is our interest and earnest wish to maintain the most cordial and friendly relations, I suggest the expediency of making the necessary appropriations for that purpose. Having been officially notified by the public authorities of the State of Virginia that she had withdrawn from the Union and desired to maintain the closest political relations with us which it was possible at this time to establish, I commissioned the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, to represent this Government at Richmond.[3] 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 effort will be spared to free commerce from all unnecessary embarrassments and obstructions. Under your act authorizing a loan, proposals were issued inviting subscriptions for $5,000,000, and the call was answered by the prompt subscription of more than $8,000,000 by our own citizens, and not a single bid was made under par. The rapid development of the purpose of the President of the United States to invade our soil, capture our forts, blockade our ports, and wage war against us induced me to direct that the entire subscription should be accepted. It will now become necessary to raise means to a much larger amount to defray the expenses of maintaining our independence and repelling invasion. I invite your special attention to this subject, and the financial condition of the Government, with the suggestion of ways and means for the supply of the Treasury, will be presented to you in a separate communication.

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 provision 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 extensive and important than had been anticipated. The applications for patents, although confined under the law exclusively to citizens of our Confederacy, already average seventy per month, showing the necessity for the prompt organization of a bureau of patents.

The Secretary of War in his report and accompanying documents conveys full information concerning the forces 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 the further estimates for the fiscal year ending the 18th of February, 1862, rendered necessary by recent events. I refer to his report also for a full history of the occurrences in Charleston Harbor prior to and including the bombardment and reduction of Fort Sumter, and of the measures subsequently taken for the common defense on receiving the 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, Saint Philip, and Pulaski 19,000 men, and 16,000 are now en route for Virginia. It is proposed to organize and hold in readiness for instant action, in view of the present exigencies of the country, an army of 100,000 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 McRae, 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 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 sooner if desired by Congress. The various books and circulars have been prepared and measures taken to secure supplies of blanks, postage stamps, stamped envelopes, mail bags, locks, keys, etc. He presents a detailed classification and arrangement of his clerical force, and asks for its increase. An 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 accounting 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 having but one grade of generals in the Army of the Confederacy, I recommend 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.

In conclusion, I congratulate you on the fact that in every portion of our country there has been exhibited the most patriotic devotion to our common cause. Transportation companies have freely tendered the use of their lines for troops and supplies. The presidents of the railroads of the Confederacy, in company with others who control lines of communication with States that we hope soon to greet as sisters, assembled in convention in this city, and not only reduced largely the rates heretofore demanded for mail service and conveyance of troops and munitions, but voluntarily proffered to receive their compensation, at these reduced rates, in the bonds of the Confederacy, for the purpose of leaving all the resources of the Government at its disposal for the common defense. Requisitions for troops have been met with such alacrity that the numbers tendering their services have in every instance greatly exceeded the demand. Men of the highest official and social position are serving as volunteers in the ranks. The gravity of age and the zeal of youth rival each other in the desire to be foremost for the public defense; and though at no other point than the one heretofore noticed have they been stimulated by the excitement incident to actual engagement and the hope of distinction for individual achievement, they have borne what for new troops is the most severe ordeal — patient toil and constant vigil, and all the exposure and discomfort of active service, with a resolution and fortitude such as to command approbation and justify the highest expectation of their conduct when active valor shall be required in place of steady endurance. A people thus united and resolved cannot shrink from any sacrifice which they may be called on to make, nor can there be a reasonable doubt of their final success, however long and severe may be the test of their determination to maintain their birthright of freedom and equality as a trust which it is their first duty to transmit undiminished to their posterity. A bounteous Providence cheers us with the promise of abundant crops. The fields of grain which will within a few weeks be ready for the sickle give assurance of the amplest supply of food for man; whilst the corn, cotton, and other staple productions of our soil afford abundant proof that up to this period the season has been propitious. We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor and independence; we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, this we must, resist to the direst extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce that cannot but be mutually beneficial. So long as this pretension is maintained, with a firm reliance on that Divine Power which covers with its protection the just cause, we will continue to struggle for our inherent right to freedom, independence, and self-government.

Jefferson Davis.

To the Congress of the Confederate States.

I lay before the Congress, for their consideration and advice as to its ratification, a copy of the convention between the Confederate States and the Commonwealth of Virginia, which was signed at the city of Richmond on the twenty-fourth day of April, 1861, by the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens on the part of the Confederate States, and by commissioners appointed for that purpose on the part of the State of Virginia.

While performing this act, I congratulate the Congress and the people of the Confederate States upon the conclusion of this alliance by which the great and powerful State of Virginia has made common cause with us and joined her energies and resources to ours for our common defense against the unprovoked war of aggression which the Chief Magistrate of the United States has declared against us.

Jefferson Davis.

Montgomery, May 6, 1861.

Montgomery, Wednesday, May 8, 1861.

Gentlemen of the Congress: In the message addressed to you on the 29th ultimo,[4] I referred to the course of conduct of the Government of the United States toward the commissioners of this Government sent to Washington for the purpose of effecting, if possible, a peaceful adjustment of the pending difficulties between the two Governments.[5] I also made allusion to "an intermediary, whose high position and character inspired the hope of success;" but I was not then at liberty to make any communication on the subject as specific as was desirable for a full comprehension of the whole subject. It is now, however, in my power to place before you other papers, which I herewith address to you from them. You will perceive that the intermediary referred to was Hon. John A. Campbell, a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, who made earnest efforts to promote the successful issue of the mission intrusted to our commissioners, and by whom I was kept advised, in confidential communication, of the measures taken by him to secure so desirable a result. It is due to you, to him, and to history that a narration of the occurrences with which he was connected should be made known, the more especially as it will be seen by the letters hereto appended that the correctness and accuracy of the recital have not been questioned by the Secretary of State of the United States, to whom it was addressed. I avail myself of this opportunity to correct an error in one of the statements made in my message of the 29th of April. It is there recited[6] that I was prompted to call you together in extraordinary session by reason of the declarations contained in the proclamation of President Lincoln of the 15th of April. My proclamation, convoking you, was issued on the 12th of April,[7] and was prompted by the declaration of hostile purposes contained in the message sent by the President to the Governor of South Carolina on the 8th of April. As the proclamation of President Lincoln of the 15th of April repeated the same hostile intention in more specific terms and on a much more extensive scale, it created a stronger impression on my mind, and led to the error above alluded to, and which, however unimportant, I desire to correct.

Jeff'n Davis.


The Commissioners to Mr. Seward.

Washington City, March 12, 1861.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States.

Sir: The undersigned have been duly accredited by the Government of the Confederate States of America as commissioners to the Government of the United States, and, in pursuance of their instructions, have now the honor to acquaint you with that fact, and to make known, through you to the President of the United States, the objects of their presence in this capital.

Seven States of the late Federal Union, having in the exercise of the inherent right of every free people to change or reform their political institutions, and through conventions of their people, withdrawn from the United States and reassumed the attributes of sovereign power delegated to it, have formed a government of their own. The Confederate States constitute an independent nation, de facto and de jure, and possess a government perfect in all its parts, and endowed with all the means of self-support.

With a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of this political separation, upon such terms of amity and good will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and future welfare of the two nations may render necessary, the undersigned are instructed to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of 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 in strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.

The undersigned have now the honor, in obedience to the instructions of their Government, to request you to appoint as early a day as possible, in order that they may present to the President of the United States the credentials which they bear and the objects of the mission with which they are charged.

We are, very respectfully, your obedient servants,


John Forsyth,


Martin J. Crawford.


Department of State, Washington, March 15, 1861.

Mr. John Forsyth, of the State of Alabama, and Mr. Martin J. Crawford, of the State of Georgia, on the 11th inst., through the kind offices of a distinguished Senator, submitted to the Secretary of State their desire for an unofficial interview. This request was, on the 12th inst., upon exclusively public considerations, respectfully declined.

On the 13th inst., while the Secretary was preoccupied, Mr. A. D. Banks, of Virginia, called at this Department, and was received by the Assistant Secretary, to whom he delivered a sealed communication, which he had been charged by Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford to present to the Secretary in person.

In that communication Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford inform the Secretary of State that they have been duly accredited by the Government of the Confederate States of America as commissioners to the Government of the United States, and they set forth the objects of their attendance at Washington. They observe that seven States of the American Union, in the exercise of a right inherent in every free people, have withdrawn, through conventions of their people, from the United States, reassumed the attributes of sovereign power, and formed a government of their own, and that those Confederate States now constitute an independent nation, de facto and de jure, and possess a government perfect in all its parts, and fully endowed with all the means of self-support.

Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, in their aforesaid communication, thereupon proceeded to inform the Secretary that, with a view to a speedy adjustment of all questions growing out of the political separation thus assumed, upon such terms of amity and good will as the respective interests, geographical contiguity, and the future welfare of the supposed two nations might render necessary, they are instructed to make to the Government of the United States overtures for the opening of negotiations, assuring this Government that the President, Congress, and the people of the Confederate States earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great questions, and that it is neither their interest nor their wish to make any demand which is not founded in the strictest justice, nor do any act to injure their late confederates.

After making these statements, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford close their communication, as they say, in obedience to the instructions of their Government, by requesting the Secretary of State to appoint as early a day as possible, in order that they may present to the President of the United States the credentials which they bear and the objects of the mission with which they are charged.

The Secretary of State frankly confesses that he understands the events which have recently occurred, and the condition of political affairs which actually exists in the part of the Union to which his attention has thus been directed, very differently from the aspect in which they are presented by Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford. He sees in them, not a rightful and accomplished revolution and an independent nation, with an established Government, but rather a perversion of a temporary and partisan excitement to the inconsiderate purposes of an unjustifiable and unconstitutional aggression upon the rights and the authority vested in the Federal Government, and hitherto benignly exercised, as from their very nature they always must so be exercised, for the maintenance of the Union, the preservation of liberty, and the security, peace, welfare, happiness, and aggrandizement of the American people. The Secretary of State, therefore, avows to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford that he looks patiently, but confidently, for the cure of evils which have resulted from proceedings so unnecessary, so unwise, so unusual, and so unnatural, not to irregular negotiations, having in view new and untried relations with agencies unknown to and acting in derogation of the Constitution and laws, but to regular and considerate action of the people of those States, in coöperation with their brethren in the other States, through the Congress of the United States, and such extraordinary conventions, if there shall be need thereof, as the Federal Constitution contemplates and authorizes to be assembled.

It is, however, the purpose of the Secretary of State, on this occasion, not to invite or engage in any discussion of these subjects, but simply to set forth his reasons for declining to comply with the request of Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford.

On the 4th of March instant, the then newly elected President of the United States, in view of all the facts bearing on the present question, assumed the Executive Administration of the Government, first delivering, in accordance with an early, honored custom, an inaugural address to the people of the United States. The Secretary of State respectfully submits a copy of this address to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford.

A simple reference to it will be sufficient to satisfy these gentlemen that the Secretary of State, guided by the principles therein announced, is prevented altogether from admitting or assuming that the States referred to by them have, in law or in fact, withdrawn from the Federal Union, or that they could do so in the manner described by Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, or in any other manner than with the consent and concert of the people of the United States, to be given through a National Convention, to be assembled in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States. Of course, the Secretary of State cannot act upon the assumption, or in any way admit that the so-called Confederate States constitute a foreign power, with whom diplomatic relations ought to be established.

Under these circumstances, the Secretary of State, whose official duties are confined, subject to the direction of the President, to the conducting of the foreign relations of the country, and do not at all embrace domestic questions, or questions arising between the several States and the Federal Government, is unable to comply with the request of Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, to appoint a day on which they may present the evidences of their authority and the objects of their visit to the President of the United States. On the contrary, he is obliged to state to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford that he has no authority, nor is he at liberty, to recognize them as diplomatic agents, or hold correspondence or other communication with them.

Finally, the Secretary of State would observe that, although he has supposed that he might safely and with propriety have adopted these conclusions, without making any reference of the subject to the Executive, yet, so strong has been his desire to practice entire directness, and to act in a spirit of perfect respect and candor toward Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford, and that portion of the people of the Union in whose name they present themselves before him, that he has cheerfully submitted this paper to the President, who coincides generally in the views it expresses, and sanctions the Secretary's decision declining official intercourse with Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford.

April 8, 1861.

The foregoing memorandum was filed in this Department on the 15th of March last. A delivery of the same to Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford was delayed, as was understood, with their consent. They have now, through their secretary, communicated their desire for a definite disposition of the subject. The Secretary of State therefore directs that a duly verified copy of the paper be now delivered.

The Commissioners in Reply to Mr. Seward.

Washington, April 9, 1861.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State for the United States, Washington.

The "memorandum" dated Department of State, Washington, March 15, 1861, with postscript under date of 8th instant, has been received through the hands of Mr. J. T. Pickett, secretary of this commission, who, by the instructions of the undersigned, called for it on yesterday at the Department.

In that memorandum you correctly state the purport of the official note addressed to you by the undersigned on the 12th ultimo. Without repeating the contents of that note in full, it is enough to say here that its object was to invite the Government of the United States to a friendly consideration of the relations between the United States and the seven States lately the Federal Union, but now separated from it by the sovereign will of their people, growing out of the pregnant and undeniable fact that those people have rejected the authority of the United States, and established a government of their own. Those relations had to be friendly or hostile. The people of the old and new Governments, occupying contiguous territories, had to stand to each other in the relation of good neighbors, each seeking their happiness and pursuing their national destinies in their own way, without interference with the other; or they had to be rival and hostile nations. The Government of the Confederate States had no hesitation in electing its choice in this alternative. Frankly and unreservedly, seeking the good of the people who had intrusted them with power, in the spirit of humanity, of the Christian civilization of the age, and of that Americanism which regards the true welfare and happiness of the people, the Government of the Confederate States, among its first acts, commissioned the undersigned to approach the Government of the United States with the olive branch of peace, and to offer to adjust the great questions pending between them in the only way to be justified by the consciences and common sense of good men who had nothing but the welfare of the people of the two confederacies at heart.

Your Government has not chosen to meet the undersigned in the conciliatory and peaceful spirit in which they are commissioned. Persistently wedded to those fatal theories of construction of the Federal Constitution always rejected by the statesmen of the South, and adhered to by those of the Administration school, until they have produced their natural and often predicted result of the destruction of the Union, under which we might have continued to live happily and gloriously together, had the spirit of the ancestry who framed the common Constitution animated the hearts of all their sons, you now, with a persistence untaught and uncured by the ruin which has been wrought, refuse to recognize the great fact presented to you of a completed and successful revolution; you close your eyes to the existence of the Government founded upon it, and ignore the high duties of moderation and humanity which attach to you in dealing with this great fact. Had you met these issues with the frankness and manliness with which the undersigned were instructed to present them to you and treat them, the undersigned had not now the melancholy duty to return home and tell their Government and their countrymen that their earnest and ceaseless efforts in behalf of peace had been futile, and that the Government of the United States meant to subjugate them by force of arms. Whatever may be the result, impartial history will record the innocence of the Government of the Confederate States, and place the responsibility of the blood and mourning that may ensue upon those who have denied the great fundamental doctrine of American liberty, that "governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed," and who have set naval and land armaments in motion to subject the people of one portion of this land to the will of another portion. That that can never be done, while a freeman survives in the Confederate States to wield a weapon, the undersigned appeal to past history to prove. These military demonstrations against the people of the seceded States are certainly far from being in keeping and consistency with the theory of the Secretary of State, maintained in his memorandum, that these States are still component parts of the late American Union, as the undersigned are not aware of any constitutional power in the President of the United States to levy war, without the consent of Congress, upon a foreign people, much less upon any portion of the people of the United States.

The undersigned, like the Secretary of State, have no purpose to "invite or engage in discussion" of the subject on which their two Governments are so irreconcilably at variance. It is this variance that has broken up the old Union, the disintegration of which has only begun. It is proper, however, to advise you that it were well to dismiss the hopes you seem to entertain that, by any of the modes indicated, the people of the Confederate States will ever be brought to submit to the authority of the Government of the United States. You are dealing with delusions, too, when you seek to separate our people from our Government, and to characterize the deliberate sovereign act of that people as a "perversion of a temporary and partisan excitement." If you cherish these dreams, you will be awakened from them and find them as unreal and unsubstantial as others in which you have recently indulged. The undersigned would omit the performance of an obvious duty, were they to fail to make known to the Government of the United States that the people of the Confederate States have declared their independence with a full knowledge of all the responsibilities of that act, and with as firm a determination to maintain it by all the means with which nature has endowed them as that which sustained their fathers when they threw off the authority of the British Crown.

The undersigned clearly understand that you have declined to appoint a day to enable them to lay the objects of the mission with which they are charged before the President of the United States, because so to do would be to recognize the independence and separate nationality of the Confederate States. This is the vein of thought that pervades the memorandum before us. The truth of history requires that it should distinctly appear upon the record that the undersigned did not ask the Government of the United States to recognize the independence of the Confederate States. They only asked audience to adjust, in a spirit of amity and peace, the new relations springing from a manifest and accomplished revolution in the Government of the late Federal Union. Your refusal to entertain these overtures for a peaceful solution, the active naval and military preparations of this Government, and a formal notice to the commanding General of the Confederate forces in the harbor of Charleston that the President intends to provision Fort Sumter by forcible means, if necessary, are viewed by the undersigned, and can only be received by the world, as a declaration of war against the Confederate States; for the President of the United States knows that Fort Sumter cannot be provisioned without the effusion of blood. The undersigned, in behalf of their Government and people, accept the gage of battle thus thrown down to them; and, appealing to God and the judgment of mankind for the righteousness of their cause, the people of the Confederate States will defend their liberties to the last, against this flagrant and open attempt at their subjugation to sectional power.

This communication cannot be properly closed without adverting to the date of your memorandum. The official note of the undersigned, of the 12th of March, was delivered to the Assistant Secretary of State on the 13th of that month, the gentleman who delivered it informing him that the secretary of this commission would call at twelve o'clock, noon, on the next day, for an answer. At the appointed hour Mr. Pickett did call, and was informed by the Assistant Secretary of State that the engagements of the Secretary of State had prevented him from giving the note his attention. The Assistant Secretary of State then asked for the address of Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth, the members of the commission then present in this city, took note of the address on a card, and engaged to send whatever reply might be made to their lodgings. Why this was not done, it is proper should be here explained. The memorandum is dated March 15, and was not delivered until April 8. Why was it withheld during the intervening twenty-three days? In the postscript to your memorandum you say it "was delayed, as was understood, with their [Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford's] consent." This is true; but it is also true that, on the 15th of March, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford were assured by a person occupying a high official position in the Government, and who, as they believed, was speaking by authority, that Fort Sumter would be evacuated in a very few days, and that no measure changing the existing status prejudicially to the Confederate States, as respects Fort Pickens, was then contemplated, and these assurances were subsequently repeated, with the addition that any contemplated change as respects Pickens would be notified to us. On the 1st of April we were again informed that there might be an attempt to supply Fort Sumter with provisions, but that Governor Pickens should have previous notice of this attempt. There was no suggestion of any reënforcement. The undersigned did not hesitate to believe that these assurances expressed the intentions of the Administration at the time, or at all events of prominent members of that Administration. This delay was assented to for the express purpose of attaining the great end of the mission of the undersigned — to wit, a pacific solution of existing complications. The inference deducible from the date of your memorandum, that the undersigned had, of their own volition and without cause, consented to this long hiatus in the grave duties with which they were charged, is therefore not consistent with a just exposition of the facts of the case. The intervening twenty-three days were employed in active unofficial efforts, the object of which was to smooth the path to a pacific solution, the distinguished personage alluded to coöperating with the undersigned; and every step of that effort is recorded in writing and now in the possession of the undersigned and of their Government. It was only when all those anxious efforts for peace had been exhausted, and it became clear that Mr. Lincoln had determined to appeal to the sword to reduce the people of the Confederate States to the will of the section or party whose President he is, that the undersigned resumed the official negotiation temporarily suspended, and sent their secretary for a reply to their official note of March 12.

It is proper to add that, during these twenty-three days, two gentlemen, of official distinction as high as that of the personage hitherto alluded to, aided the undersigned as intermediaries in these unofficial negotiations for peace.

The undersigned, commissioners of the Confederate States of America, having thus made answer to all they deem material in the memorandum filed in the Department on the 15th of March last, have the honor to be

John Forsyth,

Martin J. Crawford,

A. B. Roman.

Mr. Seward in Reply to the Commissioners.

Department of State, Washington, April 10, 1861.

Messrs. Forsyth, Crawford, and Roman, having been apprised by a memorandum, which has been delivered to them, that the Secretary of State is not at liberty to hold official intercourse with them, will, it is presumed, expect no notice from him of the new communication which they have addressed to him under date of the 9th inst., beyond the simple acknowledgment of the receipt thereof, which he hereby very cheerfully gives.

Judge Campbell to Mr. Seward.

Washington City, April 13, 1861.

Sir: On the 15th of March ult., I left with Judge Crawford, one of the commissioners of the Confederate States, a note in writing to the effect following:

"I feel entire confidence that Fort Sumter will be evacuated in the next five days. And this measure is felt as imposing great responsibility on the Administration.

"I feel entire confidence that no measure changing the existing status, prejudicially to the Southern Confederate States, is at present contemplated.

"I feel an entire confidence that an immediate demand for an answer to the communication of the commissioners will be productive of evil and not of good. I do not believe that it ought, at this time, to be pressed."

The substance of this statement I communicated to you the same evening by letter. Five days elapsed, and I called with a telegram from General Beauregard to the effect that Sumter was not evacuated, but that Major Anderson was at work making repairs.

The next day, after conversing with you, I communicated to Judge Crawford, in writing, that the failure to evacuate Sumter was not the result of bad faith, but was attributable to causes consistent with the intention to fulfill the engagement, and that as regarded Pickens, I should have notice of any design to alter the existing status there. Mr. Justice Nelson was present at these conversations, three in number, and I submitted to him each of my written communications to Judge Crawford, and informed Judge C. that they had his (Judge Nelson's) sanction. I gave you, on the 22d of March, a substantial copy of the statement I had made on the 15th.

The 30th of March arrived, and at that time a telegram came from Governor Pickens, inquiring concerning Colonel Lamon, whose visit to Charleston he supposed had a connection with the proposed evacuation of Fort Sumter.

I left that with you, and was to have an answer the following Monday (1st of April). On the 1st of April I received from you the statement in writing: "(I am satisfied) the Government will not undertake to supply Fort Sumter without giving notice to Governor P." The words "I am satisfied" were for me to use as expressive of confidence in the remainder of the declaration.

The proposition as originally prepared was, "the President may desire to supply Sumter, but will not do so," etc., and your verbal explanation was that you did not believe any such attempt would be made, and that there was no design to reënforce Sumter.

There was a departure here from the pledges of the previous month, but with the verbal explanation, I did not consider it a matter then to complain of. I simply stated to you that I had that assurance previously.

On the 7th day of April I addressed you a letter on the subject of the alarm that the preparations by the Government had created, and asked you if the assurances I had given were well or ill-founded. In respect to Sumter your reply was, "Faith as to Sumter fully kept — wait and see." In the morning's paper I read, "An authorized messenger from President Lincoln informed Governor Pickens and General Beauregard that provisions will be sent to Fort Sumter—peaceably, or otherwise by force." This was the 8th of April, at Charleston, the day following your last assurance, and is the last evidence of the full faith I was invited to wait for and see. In the same paper, I read that intercepted dispatches disclosed the fact that Mr. Fox, who had been allowed to visit Major Anderson, on the pledge that his purpose was pacific, employed his opportunity to devise a plan for supplying the Fort by force, and that this plan had been adopted by the Washington Government, and was in process of execution. My recollection of the date of Mr. Fox's visit carries it to a day in March. I learn he is a near connection of a member of the Cabinet. My connection with the commissioners and yourself was superinduced by a conversation with Justice Nelson. He informed me of your strong disposition in favor of peace, and that you were oppressed with a demand of the commissioners of the Confederate States for a reply to their first letter, and that you desired to avoid it if possible at that time.

I told him I might perhaps be of some service in arranging the difficulty. I came to your office entirely at his request and without the knowledge of either of the commissioners. Your depression was obvious to both Judge Nelson and myself. I was gratified at the character of the counsels you were desirous of pursuing and much impressed with your observation that a civil war might be prevented by the success of my mediation. You read a letter of Mr. Weed to show how irksome and responsible the withdrawal of troops from Sumter was. A portion of my communication to Judge Crawford on the 15th of March was founded upon these remarks, and the pledge to evacuate Sumter is less forcible than the words you employed. These words were: "Before this letter reaches you [a proposed letter by me to President Davis], Sumter will have been evacuated."

The commissioners who received those communications conclude they have been abused and overreached. The Montgomery Government hold the same opinion. The commissioners have supposed that my communications were with you, and upon the [that] hypothesis were prepared to arraign you before the country in connection with the President. I placed a peremptory prohibition upon this as being contrary to the terms of my communications with them. I pledged myself to them to communicate information upon what I considered as the best authority, and they were to confide in the ability of myself, aided by Judge Nelson, to determine upon the credibility of my informant.

I think no candid man who will read over what I have written, and consider for a moment what is going on at Sumter, but will agree that the equivocating conduct of the Administration, as measured and interpreted in connection with these promises, is the proximate cause of the great calamity.

I have a profound conviction that the telegrams of the 8th of April of General Beauregard, and of the 10th of April of General Walker, the Secretary of War, can be referred to nothing else than their belief that there has been systematic duplicity practiced on them through me. It is under an oppressive sense of the weight of this responsibility that I submit to you these things for your explanation. Very respectfully,


John A. Campbell,
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, U. S.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


To L. P. Walker, Secretary of War.

An authorized message from President Lincoln just informed Governor Pickens and myself that provisions will be sent to Fort Sumter peaceably, or otherwise by force.

Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard.

If you have no doubt as to the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington Government to supply Fort Sumter by force, you will at once demand its evacuation, and, if this is refused, proceed in such manner as you may determine to reduce it.

Judge Campbell to Mr. Seward.

Washington City, April 20, 1861.

Sir: I enclose you a letter, corresponding very nearly with one I addressed to you a week ago (13th April), to which I have not had any reply. The letter is simply one of inquiry in reference to facts concerning which, I think, I am entitled to an explanation. I have not adopted any opinion in reference to them which may not be modified by explanation, nor have I affirmed in that letter, nor do I in this, any conclusion of my own unfavorable to your integrity in the whole transaction.

All that I have said and mean to say is, that an explanation is due from you to myself. I will not say what I shall do in case this request is not complied with, but I am justified in saying that I shall feel at liberty to place these letters before any person who is entitled to ask an explanation of myself. Very respectfully,

John A. Campbell,
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, U. S.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

No reply has been made to this letter, April 24, 1861.

Judge Campbell to the President of the Confederate States.

Montgomery, Ala., May 7, 1861.

Sir: I submit to you two letters that were addressed by me to the Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, that contain an explanation of the nature and result of an intervention by me in the intercourse of the commissioners of the Confederate States with that officer. I considered that I could perform no duty in which the entire American people, whether of the Federal Union or of the Confederate States, were more interested than that of promoting the counsels and the policy that had for their object the preservation of peace. This motive dictated my intervention. Besides the interview referred to in these letters, I informed the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States (not being able to see the Secretary) on the 11th April, ult., of the existence of a telegram of that date, from General Beauregard to the commissioners, in which he informed the commissioners that he had demanded the evacuation of Sumter, and if refused he would proceed to reduce it. On the same day, I had been told that President Lincoln had said that none of the vessels sent to Charleston were war vessels, and that force was not to be used in the attempt to supply the Fort. I had no means of testing the accuracy of this information; but offered that if the information was accurate I would send a telegram to the authorities at Charleston, and it might prevent the disastrous consequences of a collision at that fort between the opposing forces. It was the last effort that I would make to avert the calamities of war. The Assistant Secretary promised to give the matter attention, but I had no other intercourse with him or any other person on the subject, nor have I had any reply to the letters submitted to you.

Very respectfully,

John A. Campbell.

General Davis, President of the Confederate States.

Executive Department, Montgomery, May 9, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

Sir: I herewith transmit to the Congress a communication from the Secretary of War, covering the report of operations in the reduction of Fort Sumter, together with the flag used on that occasion.

Jefferson Davis.

Montgomery, May 10, 1861.

The Congress of the Confederate States of America.

It is with sincere pleasure that I inform you that the government of North Carolina has accredited the Hon. Thomas L. Clingman as commissioner to represent that Commonwealth near the Government of the Confederate States. Mr. Clingman presented to me this day his letters of credence, and I received him in a manner corresponding to his station and the high purpose of his mission. It afforded me much gratification to receive from Mr. Clingman the assurance which he was instructed by his government to convey to me of the determination of his State "to link her fortunes with those of the Confederate States, and to draw the sword in the common defense of our liberties." This proof of North Carolina's sympathy, and this promise of her early union with the Confederate States, are the more signal because conveyed by one of such high station and reputation as Mr. Clingman.

Jeff'n Davis.

Montgomery, May 13, 1861.

The Congress of the Confederate States of America.

I lay before Congress, for their consideration and action in relation thereto, copies of a convention between the Confederate States and the State of Tennessee, which was concluded and signed by the commissioners of both parties at the city of Nashville on the 7th day of May, A.D. 1861, and of the ratification and confirmation of the same by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee.

Jeff'n Davis.

Executive Department,
Montgomery, Ala.,
May 14, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

Sir: I herewith transmit to the Congress the several estimates of the Secretary of War for the fiscal year, ending the 18th of February, 1862.

Jefferson Davis.

Executive Department, May 16, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

Sir: I herewith transmit to the Congress additional estimates of the Secretary of War.

Jefferson Davis.

Executive Department, May 17, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

I herewith transmit to the Congress a communication from the Postmaster General, covering additional estimates for the service of his Department for the year ending February 4, 1862.

Jefferson Davis.

Montgomery, Ala., May 18, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

I herewith transmit to the Congress the estimate of the Secretary of War for incidental expenses of officers of the Confederate Army assigned to duty among the Indian tribes, for the fiscal year ending February 18, 1862. The functions which said officers will be required to perform are generally those of agents of Indian Affairs.

Jeff'n Davis.

Executive Department, May 20, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

I herewith transmit to the Congress certain estimates of the Secretary of the Navy for the year ending February 18, 1862.

Jefferson Davis.

Executive Department, May 20, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Congress.

I herewith transmit to the Congress certain resolutions[8] of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the city of Memphis.

Jefferson Davis.


Montgomery, Ala., May 17, 1861.

To the Congress of the Confederate States.

I have this day received your resolution providing for the adjournment of Congress "to meet again at Richmond on the twentieth day of July next," etc., and have the honor to return it to you with a statement of my objections.

By the third clause of the sixth article of the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, it was enacted that "until otherwise provided by the Congress the city of Montgomery, in the State of Alabama, shall be the seat of government."

There is no provision in the resolution before me to remove the seat of government, and it hence follows that the office of the Executive and those of the Executive Departments of the Government must remain at the city of Montgomery.

Though there is no specified requirement that the Congress should assemble at the seat of government, the obvious necessity for its doing so will require extraordinary circumstances to justify the holding of a session of Congress at a place remote from that where the Executive Departments are located. Great embarrassment and probable detriment to the public service must result from a want of co-intelligence between the coördinate branches of the Government incident to such separation. The estimates on which appropriations can alone be made not infrequently require explanation, which, under such circumstances, could not well be made.

Members of the Cabinet who are also members of the Congress must of necessity be prevented from performing one duty or the other.

With these views deferentially and most respectfully submitted, I have the honor to return the resolution for such further action as the Congress may in its wisdom deem it proper to adopt.

Jefferson Davis.

To the Congress.

Gentlemen: I have the honor to return to you without my approval the act entitled "An act to establish a court of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction in the State of Mississippi for the counties lying on the Mississippi River in said State."

Although I am unable to perceive the advantage of an additional court in Mississippi, as provided (by) the bill, this would not constitute a sufficient reason for withholding my approval. But the bill goes farther. It creates a jurisdiction for a certain portion of the bank of the Mississippi River, entirely different from that which exists above, below, and on the opposite bank of the river. This cannot but lead to conflict of jurisdiction, embarrassment, and confusion, and I cannot perceive the necessity for so exceptional a measure.

I therefore return it to the Congress with my objections.

[Received May 21, 1861.]

Jefferson Davis.


By the President of the Confederate States.


Whereas, a treaty or convention of alliance, offensive and defensive, between the Confederate States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia, was concluded and signed at the city of Richmond on the 24th day of April, A.D. 1861, which treaty or convention of alliance is, word for word, as follows:[9]

And whereas, the said treaty or convention of alliance has been duly ratified on both parts:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, have caused the said treaty or convention of alliance to be made public, to the end that the same, and every clause and article thereof, may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the Confederate States and the citizens thereof.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Confederate States to be affixed at the city of Montgomery this 8th day of May, A.D. 1861.

Jeff'n Davis.

By the President:

R. Toombs, Secretary of State.

By the President of the Confederate States.


To All Who Shall See These Presents, Greeting.

Know ye, that by virtue of the power vested in me by law I have commissioned and do hereby commission, have authorized and do hereby authorize, the schooner or vessel called the Savannah (more particularly described in the schedule hereunto annexed[10]), whereof T. Harrison Baker is commander, to act as a private armed vessel in the service of the Confederate States on the high seas against the United States of America, their ships, vessels, goods, and effects, and those of their citizens during the pendency of the war now existing between the said Confederate States and the said United States.

This commission to continue in force until revoked by the President of the Confederate States for the time being.

Given under my hand and seal of the Confederate States at Montgomery this 18th day of May, A.D. 1861.

Jeff'n Davis.

By the President:

R. Toombs, Secretary of State.

By the President of the Confederate States.


To the People of the Confederate States.

When a people who recognize their dependence upon God, feel themselves surrounded by peril and difficulty, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence, to recognize his righteous government, to acknowledge his goodness in times past, and supplicate his merciful protection for the future.

The manifest proofs of the Divine blessing hitherto extended to the efforts of the people of the Confederate States of America, to maintain and perpetuate public liberty, individual rights, and national independence, demand their devout and heartfelt gratitude. It becomes them to give public manifestation of this gratitude, and of their dependence upon the Judge of all the earth, and to invoke the continuance of his favor. Knowing that none but a just and righteous cause can gain the Divine favor, we would implore the Lord of hosts to guide and direct our policy in the paths of right, duty, justice, and mercy, to unite our hearts and our efforts for the defense of our dearest rights; to strengthen our weakness, crown our arms with success, and enable us to secure a speedy, just, and honorable peace.

To these ends, and in conformity with the request of Congress, I invite the people of the Confederate States to the observance of a day of fasting and prayer by such religious services as may be suitable for the occasion, and I recommend Thursday, the 13th day of June next, for that purpose, and that we may all, on that day, with one accord, join in humble and reverential approach to him in whose hands we are, invoking him to inspire us with a proper spirit and temper of heart and mind to bear our evils, to bless us with his favor and protection, and to bestow his gracious benediction upon our Government and country.

Jefferson Davis.

By the President:

R. Toombs, Secretary of State.

[May 28, 1861.]


Recognizing the Existence of War Between the United States and the Confederate States, and Concerning Letters of Marque, Prizes, and Prize Goods.

Whereas, the earnest efforts made by this Government to establish friendly relations between the Government of the United States and the Confederate States, and to settle all questions of disagreement between the two Governments upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith, have proved unavailing by reason of the refusal of the Government of the United States to hold any intercourse with the commissioners appointed by this Government for the purposes aforesaid, or to listen to any proposal they had to make for the peaceful solution of all causes of difficulty between the two Governments; and

Whereas, the President of the United States of America has issued his proclamation making requisition upon the States of the American Union for 75,000 men for the purpose, as therein indicated, of capturing forts and other strongholds within the jurisdiction of, and belonging to, the Confederate States of America, and has detailed naval armaments upon the coasts of the Confederate States of America, and raised, organized, and equipped a large military force to execute the purpose aforesaid, and has issued his other proclamation announcing his purpose to set on foot a blockade of the ports of the Confederate States; and

Whereas, the State of Virginia has seceded from the Federal Union and entered into a convention of alliance offensive and defensive with the Confederate States, and has adopted the Provisional Constitution of the said States; and the States of Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri have refused, and it is believed that the State of Delaware and the inhabitants of the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico, and the Indian Territory south of Kansas, will refuse to coöperate with the Government of the United States in these acts of hostility and wanton aggression, which are plainly intended to overawe, oppress, and finally subjugate the people of the Confederate States; and

Whereas, by the acts and means aforesaid, war exists between the Confederate States and the Government of the United States and the States and Territories thereof, except the States of Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, and Delaware, and the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico, and the Indian Territory south of Kansas: Therefore,

Section 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the President of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to use the whole land and naval force of the Confederate States to meet the war thus commenced, and to issue to private armed vessels commissions or letters of marque and general reprisal in such form as he shall think proper, under the seal of the Confederate States, against the vessels, goods, and effects of the Government of the United States, and of the citizens or inhabitants of the States and Territories thereof, except the States and Territories herein-before named: Provided, however, That property of the enemy (unless it be contraband of war) laden on board a neutral vessel shall not be subject to seizure under this act: And provided further, That vessels of the citizens or inhabitants of the United States now in the ports of the Confederate States, except such as have been since the 5th of April last, or may hereafter be, in the service of the Government of the United States, shall be allowed thirty days after the publication of this act to leave said ports and reach their destination; and such vessels and their cargoes, excepting articles contraband of war, shall not be subject to capture under this act during said period unless they shall have previously reached the destination for which they were bound on leaving said ports.

Sec. 2. That the President of the Confederate States shall be, and he is hereby, authorized and empowered to revoke and annul at pleasure all letters of marque and reprisal which he may at any time grant pursuant to this act.

Sec. 3. That all persons applying for letters of marque and reprisal, pursuant to this act, shall state in writing the name and a suitable description of the tonnage and force of the vessel, and the name and place of residence of each owner concerned therein and the intended number of the crew, which statement shall be signed by the person or persons making such application and filed with the Secretary of State, or shall be delivered to any other officer or person who shall be employed to deliver out such commissions, to be by him transmitted to the Secretary of State.

Sec. 4. That before any commission or letters of marque and reprisal shall be issued as aforesaid, the owner or owners of the ship or vessel for which the same shall be requested, and the commander thereof for the time being, shall give bond to the Confederate States, with at least two responsible sureties not interested in such vessel, in the penal sum of $5,000, or if such vessel be provided with more than 150 men, then in the penal sum of $10,000, with condition that the owners, officers, and crew who shall be employed on board such commissioned vessel shall and will observe the laws of the Confederate States and the instructions which shall be given them according to law for the regulation of their conduct, and will satisfy all damages and injuries which shall be done or committed contrary to the tenor thereof by such vessel during her commission, and to deliver up the same when revoked by the President of the Confederate States.

Sec. 5. That all captures and prizes of vessels and property shall be forfeited and shall accrue to the owners, officers, and crews of the vessels by whom such captures and prizes shall be made, and on due condemnation had shall be distributed according to any written agreement which shall be made between them; and if there be no such written agreement, then one moiety to the owners and the other moiety to the officers and crew, as nearly as may be, according to the rules prescribed for the distribution of prize money by the laws of the Confederate States.

Sec. 6. That all vessels, goods, and effects, the property of any citizen of the Confederate States, or of persons resident within and under the protection of the Confederate States, or of persons permanently within the territories and under the protection of any foreign prince, government, or State in amity with the Confederate States, which shall have been captured by the United States, and which shall be recaptured by vessels commissioned as aforesaid, shall be restored to the lawful owners upon payment by them of a just and reasonable salvage, to be determined by the mutual agreement of the parties concerned, or by the decree of any court having jurisdiction, according to the nature of each case, agreeably to the provisions established by law. And such salvage shall be distributed among the owners, officers, and crews of the vessels commissioned as aforesaid and making such captures, according to any written agreement which shall be made between them; and in case of no such agreement, then in the same manner and upon the principles hereinbefore provided in cases of capture.

Sec. 7. That before breaking bulk of any vessel which shall be captured as aforesaid, or other disposal or conversion thereof, or of any articles which shall be found on board the same, such captured vessel, goods, or effects shall be brought into some port of the Confederate States or of a nation or State in amity with the Confederate States, and shall be proceeded against before a competent tribunal; and after condemnation and forfeiture thereof shall belong to the owners, officers, and crew of the vessel capturing the same, and be distributed as before provided; and in the case of all captured vessels, goods, and effects which shall be brought within the jurisdiction of the Confederate States, the district courts of the Confederate States shall have exclusive original cognizance thereof, as in civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; and the said courts, or the courts, being courts of the Confederate States, into which such cases shall be removed and in which they shall be finally decided, shall and may decree restitution in whole or in part when the capture shall have been made without just cause; and if made without probable cause, may order and decree damages and costs to the party injured, for which the owners and commanders of the vessels making such captures, and also the vessels, shall be liable.

Sec. 8. That all persons found on board any captured vessels, or on board any recaptured vessel, shall be reported to the collector of the port in the Confederate States in which they shall first arrive, and shall be delivered into the custody of the marshal of the district or some court or military officer of the Confederate States, or of any State in or near such port, who shall take charge of their safe-keeping and support, at the expense of the Confederate States.

Sec. 9. That the President of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to establish and order suitable instructions for the better governing and directing the conduct of the vessels so commissioned, their officers and crews, copies of which shall be delivered by the collector of the customs to the commanders, when they shall give bond as before provided.

Sec. 10. That a bounty shall be paid by the Confederate States of $20 for each person on board any armed ship or vessel belonging to the United States at the commencement of an engagement, which shall be burnt, sunk, or destroyed by any vessel commissioned as aforesaid, which shall be of equal or inferior force, the same to be divided as in other cases of prize money; and a bounty of $25 shall be paid to the owners, officers, and crews of the private armed vessels commissioned as aforesaid for each and every prisoner by them captured and brought into port and delivered to an agent authorized to receive them in any port of the Confederate States; and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to pay or cause to be paid to the owners, officers, and crews of such private armed vessels commissioned as aforesaid, or their agent, the bounties herein provided.

Sec. 11. That the commanding officer of every vessel having a commission or letters of marque and reprisal, during the present hostilities between the Confederate States and the United States, shall keep a regular journal, containing a true and exact account of his daily proceedings and transactions with such vessel and the crew thereof; the ports and places he shall put into or cast anchor in; the time of his stay there and the cause thereof; the prizes he shall take and the nature and probable value thereof; the times and places when and where taken, and in what manner he shall dispose of the same; the ships or vessels he shall fall in with; the times and places when and where he shall meet with them, and his observations and remarks thereon; also of whatever else shall occur to him or any of his officers or marines, or be discovered by examination or conference with any marines or passengers of or in any other ships or vessels, or by any other means touching the fleets, vessels, and forces of the United States, their ports and places of station and destination, strength, numbers, intents, and designs; and such commanding officer shall, immediately on his arrival in any port of the Confederate States, from or during the continuance of any voyage or cruise, produce his commission for such vessel, and deliver up such journal so kept as aforesaid, signed with his proper name and handwriting, to the collector or other chief officer of the customs at or nearest to such port; the truth of which journal shall be verified by the oath of the commanding officer for the time being. And such collector or other chief officer of the customs shall, immediately on the arrival of such vessel, order the proper officer of the customs to go on board and take an account of the officers and men, the number and nature of the guns, and whatever else shall occur to him on examination material to be known; and no such vessel shall be permitted to sail out of port again until such journal shall have been delivered up, and a certificate obtained under the hand of such collector or other chief officer of the customs that she is manned and armed according to her commission; and upon delivery of such certificate any former certificate of a like nature which shall have been obtained by the commander of such vessel shall be delivered up.

Sec. 12. That the commanders of vessels having letters of marque and reprisal as aforesaid, neglecting to keep a journal as aforesaid, or willfully making fraudulent entries therein, or obliterating the record of any material transactions contained therein, where the interest of the Confederate States is concerned, or refusing to produce and deliver such journal, commission, or certificate, pursuant to the preceding section of this act, then, and in such cases, the commissions or letters of marque and reprisal of such vessels shall be liable to be revoked; and such commanders, respectively, shall forfeit for every such offense the sum of $1,000, one moiety thereof to the use of the Confederate States, and the other to the informer.

Sec. 13. That the owners or commanders of vessels having letters of marque and reprisal as aforesaid, who shall violate any of the acts of Congress for the collection of the revenue of the Confederate States, and for the prevention of smuggling, shall forfeit the commission or letters of marque and reprisal, and they and the vessels owned or commanded by them shall be liable to all the penalties and forfeitures attaching to merchant vessels in like cases.

Sec. 14. That on all goods, wares, and merchandise captured and made good and lawful prizes of war by any private armed ship having commission or letters of marque and reprisal under this act, and brought into the Confederate States, there shall be allowed a deduction of 33 1-3 per cent on the amount of duties imposed by law.

Sec. 15. That 5 per centum on the net amount (after deducting all charges and expenditures) of the prize money arising from captured vessels and cargoes, and on the net amount of the salvage of vessels and cargoes recaptured by the private armed vessels of the Confederate States, shall be secured and paid over to the collector or other chief officer of the customs, at the port or place in the Confederate States at which such captured or recaptured vessels may arrive, or to the consul or other public agent of the Confederate States residing at the port or place not within the Confederate States at which such captured or recaptured vessel may arrive. And the moneys arising therefrom shall be held, and are hereby pledged by the Government of the Confederate States as a fund for the support and maintenance of the widows and orphans of such persons as may be slain, and for the support and maintenance of such persons as may be wounded and disabled on board of the private armed vessels commissioned as aforesaid, in any engagement with the enemy, to be assigned and distributed in such manner as shall hereafter be provided by law.

Howell Cobb,
President of the Congress.

Approved May 6, 1861.

Jeff'n Davis.

President's Instructions to Private Armed Vessels.

1. The tenor of your commission, under the act of Congress entitled "An Act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States, and concerning letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods," a copy of which is hereto annexed, will be kept constantly in your view. The high seas, referred to in your commissions, you will understand generally to refer to low water mark, but with the exception of the space within one league or three miles from the shore of countries at peace both with the United States and the Confederate States. You may, nevertheless, execute your commission within that distance of the shore of a nation at war with the United States, and even on the waters within the jurisdiction of such nation, if permitted to do so.

2. You are to pay the strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers and the usages of civilized nations; and in all your proceedings toward neutral vessels you are to give them as little molestation or interruption as will consist with the right of ascertaining their neutral character and of detaining and bringing them in for regular adjudication in the proper cases. You are particularly to avoid even the appearance of using force or seduction with a view to deprive such vessels of their crews or of their passengers other than persons in the military service of the enemy.

3. Toward enemy vessels and their crews you are to proceed, in exercising the rights of war, with all the justice and humanity which characterize this Government and its citizens.

4. The master and one or more of the principal persons belonging to the captured vessels are to be sent, as soon after the capture as may be, to the judge or judges of the proper court in the Confederate States, to be examined upon oath touching the interest or property of the captured vessel and her lading, and at the same time are to be delivered to the judge or judges all papers, charterparties, bills of lading, letters, and other documents and writings found on board, the said papers to be proved by affidavit of the commander of the capturing vessel or some other person present at the capture, to be produced as they were received, without fraud, addition, subduction, or embezzlement.

5. Property even of the enemy is exempt from seizure on neutral vessels, unless it be contraband of war. If goods contraband of war are found on any neutral vessel, and the commander thereof shall offer to deliver them up, the offer shall be accepted and the vessel left at liberty to pursue its voyage, unless the quantity of contraband goods be greater than can be conveniently received on board your vessel, in which case the neutral vessel may be carried into port for the delivery of the contraband goods. The following articles are deemed by this Government contraband of war as well as all others that are so declared by the law of nations, viz.: All arms and implements serving for the purposes of war by land or sea, such as cannons, mortars, guns, muskets, rifles, pistols, petards, bombs, grenades, ball, shot, shell, fuses, pikes, swords, bayonets, javelins, lances, horse furniture, holsters, belts, and generally all other implements of war. Also, timber for shipbuilding, pitch, tar, rosin, copper in sheets, sails, hemp, cordage, and generally whatever may serve directly to the equipment of vessels, unwrought iron and planks only excepted. Neutral vessels conveying enemy's dispatches or military persons in the service of the enemy forfeit their neutral character, and are liable to capture and condemnation. But this rule does not apply to neutral vessels bearing dispatches from the public ministers or ambassadors of the enemy residing in neutral countries.

By command of the President of the Confederate States:

Robert Toombs, Secretary of State.

Form of Bond.

Know all men by these presents:

That we (Note 1), ———— ————,[11] are bound to the Confederate States of America in the full sum of (Note 2) ————[12] thousand dollars, to the payment whereof, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, jointly and severally, by these presents.

The condition of this obligation is such that whereas application has been made to the said Confederate States of America for the grant of a commission or letter of marque and general reprisals, authorizing the (Note 3)————[13] or vessel, called the————,to act as a private armed vessel in the service of the Confederate States on the high seas against the United States of America, its ships and vessels, and those of its citizens, during the pendency of the war now existing between the said Confederate States and the said United States.

Now, if the owners, officers, and crew who shall be employed on board of said vessel when commissioned shall observe the laws of the Confederate States and the instructions which shall be given them according to law for the regulation of their conduct, and shall satisfy all damages and injuries which shall be done or committed contrary to the tenor thereof by such vessel during her commission, and shall deliver up said commission when revoked by the President of the Confederate States, then this obligation shall be void, but otherwise shall remain in full force and effect.

Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of———— ————, on this———day of————, ———.

A. B.,
C. D.,




To Amend an Act Entitled "An Act Recognizing the Existence of War Between the United States and the Confederate States and Concerning Letters of Marque, Prizes, and Prize Goods, Approved May 6, 1861."

The Congress of the Confederate States [of America] do enact, That the tenth section of the above entitled act be so amended that, in addition to the bounty therein mentioned, the Government of the Confederate States will pay to the cruiser or cruisers of any private armed vessel commissioned under said act 20 per centum on the value of each and every vessel of war belonging to the enemy that may be sunk or destroyed by such private armed vessel or vessels, the value of the armament to be included in the estimate; the valuation to be made by a board of naval officers appointed and their award to be approved by the President, and the amount found to be due to be payable in 8 per cent bonds of the Confederate States.

Sec. 2. That if any person who may have invented or may hereafter invent any new kind of armed vessel, or floating battery, or defense, shall deposit a plan of the same, accompanied by suitable explanations or specifications, in the Navy Department, together with an affidavit setting forth that he is the inventor thereof, such deposit and affidavit (unless the facts set forth therein shall be disproved) shall entitle such inventor or his assigns to the sole and exclusive enjoyment of the rights and privileges conferred by this act, reserving, however, to the Government, in all cases, the right of using such invention.

Approved May 21, 1861.


Be it unanimously resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the thanks of the people of the Confederate States are due, and through this Congress are hereby tendered, to Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard and the officers, military and naval, under his command, and to the gallant troops of the State of South Carolina for the skill, fortitude, and courage by which they reduced and caused the surrender of Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, on the twelfth and thirteenth days of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-one. And the commendation of Congress is also hereby declared of the generosity manifested by their conduct toward a brave and vanquished foe.

Be it further resolved, That a copy of this resolution be communicated by the President to General Beauregard, and through him to the army then under his command.

Approved May 4, 1861.


Richmond, July 6, 1861.

To Abraham Lincoln, President and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.

Sir: Having learned that the schooner Savannah, a private armed vessel in the service, and sailing under a commission issued by authority of the Confederate States of America, had been captured by one of the vessels forming the blockading squadron off Charleston harbor, I directed a proposition to be made to the officer commanding that squadron for an exchange of the officers and crew of the Savannah for prisoners of war held by this Government "according to number and rank." To this proposition, made on the 19th ult., Captain Mercer, the officer in command of the blockading squadron, made answer on the same day that "the prisoners (referred to) are not on board of any of the vessels under my command."

It now appears by statements made without contradiction in newspapers published in New York, that the prisoners above mentioned were conveyed to that city, and have there been treated not as prisoners of war, but as criminals; that they have been put in irons, confined in jail, brought before the courts of justice on charges of piracy and treason, and it is even rumored that they have been actually convicted of the offenses charged, for no other reason than that they bore arms in defense of the rights of this Government and under the authority of its commission.

I could not, without grave discourtesy, have made the newspaper statements above referred to the subject of this communication, if the threat of treating as pirates the citizens of this Confederacy, armed for service on the high seas, had not been contained in your proclamation of the April last. That proclamation, however, seems to afford a sufficient justification for considering these published statements as not devoid of probability.

It is the desire of this Government so to conduct the war now existing as to mitigate its horrors as far as may be possible; and, with this intent, its treatment of the prisoners captured by its forces has been marked by the greatest humanity and leniency consistent with public obligations; some have been permitted to return home on parole, others to remain at large under similar conditions within this Confederacy, and all have been furnished with rations for their subsistence, such as are allowed to our own troops. It is only since the news has been received of the treatment of the prisoners taken on the Savannah that I have been compelled to withdraw these indulgencies, and to hold the prisoners taken by us in strict confinement.

A just regard to humanity and to the honor of this Government now requires me to state explicitly that, painful as will be the necessity, this Government will deal out to the prisoners held by it the same treatment and the same fate as shall be experienced by those captured on the Savannah, and if driven to the terrible necessity of retaliation by your execution of any of the officers or the crew of the Savannah, that retaliation will be extended so far as shall be requisite to secure the abandonment of a practice unknown to the warfare of civilized man, and so barbarous as to disgrace the nation which shall be guilty of inaugurating it.

With this view, and because it may not have reached you, I now renew the proposition made to the commander of the blockading squadron to exchange for the prisoners taken on the Savannah, an equal number of those now held by us, according to rank. I am yours, etc.,

Jefferson Davis,

President and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States.

  1. Not found herewith, but see message of President Davis, May 8, 1861, page 82.
  2. See page 60.
  3. See page 62.
  4. See page 63.
  5. See page 70.
  6. See page 63.
  7. See page 60.
  8. Inviting the Congress to hold its next session in the city of Memphis, Tenn.
  9. Omitted.
  10. Schedule of description of the vessel: Name, Schooner Savannah; tonnage, fifty-three and forty-one ninety-fifth tons; armament, one large pivot gun and small arms; number of crew, thirty.
  11. Note 1. — This blank must be filled with the name of the commander for the time being and the owner or owners, and at least two responsible sureties, not interested in the vessel.
  12. Note 2. — This blank must be filled with a "five" if the vessel be provided only with 150 men or a less number; if with more than that number, the blank must be filled with a "ten."
  13. Note 3.—This blank must be filled with the character of the vessel—"ship," "brig," "schooner," "steamer," etc.

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