Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/247

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First Congress.

powers of Congress, to return, without my approval, a bill to be entitled "An Act relative to the pay and allowances of deceased soldiers," originating in the Senate.

The bill in express terms declares and enacts that the pay and allowances now due to any deceased officer, non-commissioned officer, musician, private, or other person, for services in the Army of the Confederate States, shall be paid to the widow of the deceased, if living, or to others who may be his heirs, if she be not living. In other words, Congress, by this act, is making a distribution law to affect a portion of the estates of persons already deceased. To the several States composing the Confederacy properly belongs the power to pass laws for the administration and distribution of the estates of deceased persons. I doubt very much the constitutional power of Congress to pass any law on this subject, even of a prospective character. But this bill operates on the past as well as the future. Rights already vested and governed by the law of the State in which the deceased soldier had his domicile are attempted to be disturbed by the provisions of this bill. In my judgment, Congress has no such power. The laws of the United States, which the Confederate States adopted, were in force here when our soldiers enlisted. These laws in reference to payment of arrears and effects of deceased soldiers may be regarded as a part of the contract of such deceased soldier. An examination of these laws will show that such arrears and effects were to be held and paid to the legal representatives of the deceased soldier.

Jefferson Davis.


By the President of the Confederate States.


To the People of the Confederate States.

The termination of the Provisional Government offers a fitting occasion again to present ourselves in humiliation, prayer, and thanksgiving before that God who has safely conducted us through our first year of national existence. We have been enabled to