Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/353

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323
First Congress.

and it is feared that such special legislation, without apparent necessity for one State, would be made the precedent for similar demands from other States, thus leading to consequences which did not, perhaps, suggest themselves to Congress when the bill received its assent.

3. It is finally suggested, for the consideration of Congress whether some of the provisions of this bill are not equivalent to the exercise of the Executive functions by the legislative department of the Government, and therefore an infringement of the principles of the Constitution which so carefully separate the duties of these different Departments.

Congress has power to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces" as well as to "raise armies."

Under these powers Congress could undoubtedly order the raising of regiments of artillery for seacoast defense, and by change of organization direct that a certain number of regiments of infantry be converted into artillery. But such is not the bill under discussion. Congress, in that bill, orders a specified regiment to be employed for seacoast defense.

If this be a legitimate exercise of legislative power, Congress can, of course, select other regiments and order them to the defense of the Indian country, and select again other regiments and order them to be sent to the Tennessee, the Virginia, or the Texan frontier.

Such orders seem to me purely Executive. They have hitherto been made through the Adjutant General of the Army, and it requires but little reflection to perceive that the exercise of such powers by Congress withdraws from the Executive the authority indispensable to the fulfillment of his functions as Commander in Chief.

These reasons have appeared to my mind decisive of the question, and I therefore respectfully return them to the Senate as those which have prevented my approval of the act, which is also herewith returned.

Jefferson Davis.

Richmond, Va., March 31, 1863.