Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/477

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445
Second Congress.

thority. Ungenerous advantage has been taken of our present condition, and our rights have been violated, our vessels of war detained in ports to which they had been invited by proclamations of neutrality, and in one instance our flag also insulted where the sacred right of asylum was supposed to be secure; while one of these Governments has contented itself with simply deprecating, by deferential representations, the conduct of our enemy in the constantly recurring instances of his contemptuous disregard of neutral rights and flagrant violations of public law. It may be that foreign governments, like our enemies, have mistaken our desire for peace, unreservedly expressed, for evidence of exhaustion, and have thence inferred the probability of success in the effort to subjugate or exterminate the millions of human beings who, in these States, prefer any fate to submission to their savage assailants. I see no prospect of an early change in the course heretofore pursued by these Governments; but when this delusion shall have been dispelled and when our independence by the valor and fortitude of our people shall have been won against all the hostile influences combined against us, and can no longer be ignored by open foes or professed neutrals, this war will have left with its proud memories a record of many wrongs which it may not misbecome us to forgive, some for which we may not properly forbear from demanding redress. In the meantime it is enough for us to know that every avenue of negotiation is closed against us; that our enemy is making renewed and strenuous efforts for our destruction, and that the sole resource for us, as a people secure in the justice of our cause and holding our liberties to be more precious than all other earthly possessions, is to combine and apply every available element of power for their defense and preservation.

On the subject of the exchange of prisoners I greatly regret to be unable to give you satisfactory information. The Government of the United States, while persisting in failure to execute the terms of the cartel, make occasional deliveries of prisoners, and then suspend action without apparent cause. I confess my inability to comprehend their policy or purpose. The prisoners held by us, in spite of humane care, are perishing from the inevitable effects of imprisonment and the homesickness produced by the hopelessness of release from confinement. The spectacle of their suffering augments our longing desire to relieve from similar