To the House of Representatives.
I herewith transmit for your consideration communications from the Secretary of the Navy, submitting estimates in response to your resolutions of the 22d and 23d inst. I recommend appropriations of the sums for the purposes specified.
[Received September 29, 1862.
Richmond, Va., September 30, 1862.
To the Senate and House of Representatives.
I herewith transmit a communication from the Postmaster General, to which I respectfully call your attention.
The seventh clause of the eighth section of the Constitution directs that after the first of March, 1863, the expenses of the postal service shall be paid out of its revenues.
The interruption of commerce and communication, resulting from the war and the occupation of a portion of our territory by the enemy, have necessarily curtailed, to a considerable extent, the revenues of the Department, and rendered it impossible, while the war continues and these causes exist, to make its revenues cover its expenses without such a reduction of the service as would seriously affect the interests of the people of the Confederate States.
If, in your opinion, the clause of the Constitution above referred to merely directs that Congress shall pass such laws as may be best calculated to make the postal service self-sustaining, and does not prohibit the appropriation of money to meet deficiencies, the question is one of easy solution. But if, on the contrary, you should consider that the constitutional provision is a positive and unqualified prohibition against any appropriation from the Treasury to aid the operations of the Post Office Department, it is for you to determine whether the difficulty can be overcome by a further increase of the rates of postage or by other constitutional means.
Doubtful as to the true intent of the Constitution, I submit the question to the Congress, and ask for it the deliberation which its importance may claim.