Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/475

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Second Congress.




Richmond, May 2, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

You are assembled under circumstances of deep interest to your country, and it is fortunate that, coming as you do newly elected by the people and familiar with the condition of the various localities, you will be the better able to devise measures adapted to meet the wants of the public service without imposing unnecessary burdens on the citizen. The brief period which has elapsed since the last adjournment of Congress has not afforded sufficient opportunity to test the efficacy of the most important laws then enacted, nor have the events occurring in the interval been such as materially to change the state of the country.

The unjust war commenced against us in violation of the rights of the States, and in usurpation of power not delegated to the Government of the United States, is still characterized by the barbarism with which it has heretofore been conducted by the enemy. Aged men, helpless women, and children appeal in vain to the humanity which should be inspired by their condition for immunity from arrest, incarceration, or banishment from their homes. Plunder and devastation of the property of noncombatants, destruction of private dwellings, and even of edifices devoted to the worship of God; expeditions organized for the sole purpose of sacking cities, consigning them to the flames, killing the unarmed inhabitants, and inflicting horrible outrages on women and children, are some of the constantly recurring atrocities of the invader. It cannot reasonably be pretended that such acts conduce to any end which their authors dare avow before the civilized world, and sooner or later Christendom must mete out to them