of the Covington and Ohio Railroad upon consideration of military necessity.
I communicate to you with these letters a series of resolutions adopted at a convention of railroad presidents, held in Richmond on the 6th of December, asking for the assistance of the Confederate Government in procuring certain supplies, which are indispensable to the railroad system of the country.
That certain appropriations which otherwise could not be constitutionally made by the Confederate Government come within the range of its power, when absolutely necessary for the prosecution of a war, there is no doubt. It is equally clear that when this military necessity ceases, the right to make such appropriations no longer exists.
To exercise this power, when it exists, and to confine it within the proper limits, is a matter for the just discretion of Congress, and to enable it to act upon the interesting subjects to which they relate, I transmit the communications and resolutions which accompany this message.
I have already recommended that the Confederate Government should assist in making a railroad from Danville, Va., to Greensboro, N. C., upon the ground of a strong military necessity for completing an interior through line from Virginia to the Southern Atlantic States. I deem this to be necessary, not only on account of the superior safety of such a line from hostile inroads and invasions, but because of the great additional facilities which its completion would afford for the transportation of troops and military supplies.
The road from Selma, Ala., to Meridian, Miss., is a link that has claims similar to the road already recommended to your assistance in a previous message. Whilst the completion of the twenty miles of the Covington and Ohio Railroad, as proposed by Mr. Fontaine, might be eminently useful for military purposes, I cannot, in the present condition of the Treasury, recommend that you should contribute by direct appropriation.
The resolutions of the convention of the railroad presidents and superintendents relate to a most important subject.
If the railroads should be generally disabled from transporting
- See page 139.