Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/501

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469
Second Congress.

than to leave the other half subject to their use by charter obtained by consent of the owners.

When these regulations were accepted by the owners of vessels they amounted in substance to an agreement on their part to charter half of their tonnage to the Confederacy on every voyage at the rates stipulated in the regulations.

Now, the bill which I return to the House makes three provisions:

First. That cargo shipped by the States shall not be subject to the regulations, and to this there can be no objection. It merely reaffirms the law as it stands.

Second. That vessels owned by any State and employed for the exclusive use of the State shall not be subject to the regulations; and to this no objection is made, as it places vessels owned by any State on the same footing as vessels owned by the Confederacy.

Third. That vessels chartered by any State for its exclusive use shall not be subject to the regulations; and this is the provision to which objection is made, because it is liable to a construction which would authorize the States, instead of chartering from the owners of vessels in the trade only that half which remains at their disposal under the regulations, and thus preserving equality with the Confederate Government in this matter, to charter the entire tonnage of the vessels, thus depriving the Confederacy of a resource now at its disposal, and without which very serious embarrassments to the public service would ensue. When it is remembered that the number of private vessels in the service is limited, that the profits of exporting produce are very large, that the temptation to engage in the business will be great, it is easy to perceive how grave might become the consequences of sanctioning a system under which the several States and the Confederate Government would be competitors for contracts with the owners of the vessels engaged in this commerce, and how imminent the risk that the Confederacy would be deprived of this indispensable means of carrying on the war.

I trust, therefore, that the House will concur in the opinion that the words "or chartered" should be stricken out of the closing sentence of the bill, or that a clause should be added providing "that nothing in this law shall be so construed as to affect the rights of the Confederate States under existing regulations to the