Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/399

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
369
First Congress.

It may be added that in considering this subject the people ought steadily to keep in view that the Government in contracting debt is but their agent; that its debt is their debt. As the currency is held exclusively by ourselves, it is obvious that, if each person held Treasury notes in exact proportion to the value of his means, each would in fact owe himself the amount of the notes held by him; and were it possible to distribute the currency among the people in this exact proportion, a tax levied on the currency alone to the amount sufficient to reduce it to proper limits would afford the best of all remedies. Under such circumstances the notes remaining in the hands of each holder after the payment of his tax would be worth quite as much as the whole sum previously held, for it would purchase at least an equal amount of commodities. This result cannot be perfectly attained by any device of legislation, but it can be approximated by taxation. A tax on all values has for its effect not only to impose a due share of the burden on the note holder, but to force those who have few or none of the notes to part with a share of their possessions to those who hold the notes in excess in order to obtain the means of satisfying the demands of the taxgatherer. This is the only mode by which it is practicable to make all contribute as equally as possible in the burden which all are bound to share, and it is for this reason that taxation adequate to the public exigencies, under our present circumstances, must be the basis of any funding system or other remedy for restoring stability to our finances.

THE ARMY.

To the report of the Secretary of War you are referred for details relative to the condition of the Army and the measures of legislation required for maintaining its efficiency, recruiting its numbers, and furnishing the supplies necessary for its support.

Though we have lost many of the best of our soldiers and most patriotic of our citizens (the sad but unavoidable result of the battles and toils of such a campaign as that which will render the year 1863 ever memorable in our annals), the Army is believed to be in all respects in better condition than at any previous period of the war. Our gallant defenders, now veterans, familiar with danger, hardened by exposure, and confident in themselves and their officers, endure privations with cheerful fortitude and

24