Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/578

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

supplies. It is therefore recommended that Congress devise the means for making available the coin within the Confederacy for the purpose of supplying the Army. The officers of the supply departments report that with $2,000,000 in coin the armies in Virginia and North Carolina can be amply supplied for the remainder of the year, and the knowledge of this fact should suffice to insure the adoption of the measures necessary to obtain this moderate sum.

The impressment law as it now exists prohibits the public officers from impressing supplies without making payment of the valuation at the time of impressment. The limit fixed for the issue of Treasury notes has been nearly reached, and the Treasury cannot always furnish the funds necessary for prompt payment; while the law for raising revenue, which would have afforded means for diminishing, if not removing, this difficulty, was unfortunately delayed for several months, and has just been signed. In this condition of things it is impossible to supply the Army, although ample stores may exist in the country, whenever the owners refuse to give credit to the public officer. It is necessary that this restriction on the power of impressment be removed. The power is admitted to be objectionable, liable to abuse, and unequal in its operations on individuals; yet all these objections must yield to absolute necessity. It is also suggested that the system of valuation now established ought to be radically changed. The legislation requires in such cases of impressment that the market price be paid; but there is really no market price in many cases, and the valuation is made arbitrarily and in a depreciated currency. The result is that the most extravagant prices are fixed, such as no one expects ever to be paid in coin. None believe that the Government can ever redeem in coin the obligation to pay $50 a bushel for corn, or $700 a barrel for flour. It would seem to be more just and appropriate to estimate the supplies impressed at their value in coin, to give the obligation of the Government for the payment of the price in coin with reasonable interest; or, at the option of the creditor, to return in kind the wheat or corn impressed, with a reasonable interest also payable in kind, and to make the obligations thus issued receivable for all payments due in coin to the Government. Whatever be the value attached by Congress to these suggestions, it is hoped that there