Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/320

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

ening similar atrocities against any of our citizens who shall fail to betray their country by giving him prompt notice of the approach of any of our forces, and this subject has also been submitted to the superior military authorities of the United States with but faint hope that they will evince any disapprobation of the act. Humanity shudders at the appalling atrocities which are being daily multiplied under the sanction of those who have obtained temporary possession of power in the United States, and who are fast making its once fair name a byword of reproach among civilized men. Not even the natural indignation inspired by this conduct should make us, however, so unjust as to attribute to the whole mass of the people who are subjected to the despotism that now reigns with unbridled license in the city of Washington a willing acquiescence in its conduct of the war. There must necessarily exist among our enemies very many, perhaps a majority, whose humanity recoils from all participation in such atrocities, but who cannot be held wholly guiltless while permitting their continuance without an effort at repression.

The public journals of the North have been received, containing a proclamation, dated on the 1st day of the present month, signed by the President of the United States, in which he orders and declares all slaves within ten of the States of the Confederacy to be free, except such as are found within certain districts now occupied in part by the armed forces of the enemy. We may well leave it to the instincts of that common humanity which a beneficent Creator has implanted in the breasts of our fellowmen of all countries to pass judgment on a measure by which several millions of human beings of an inferior race, peaceful and contented laborers in their sphere, are doomed to extermination, while at the same time they are encouraged to a general assassination of their masters by the insidious recommendation "to abstain from violence unless in necessary self-defense." Our own detestation of those who have attempted the most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty man is tempered by profound contempt for the impotent rage which it discloses. So far as regards the action of this Government on such criminals as may attempt its execution, I confine myself to informing you that I shall, unless in your wisdom you deem some other course