Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/581

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549
Second Congress.

ful conduct of the war. On Congress must rest the responsibility of declining to exercise a power conferred by the Constitution as a means of public safety, to be used in periods of national peril resulting from foreign invasion. If our present circumstances are not such as were contemplated when this power was conferred, I confess myself at a loss to imagine any contingency in which this clause of the Constitution will not remain a dead letter.

With the prompt adoption of the measures above recommended and the united and hearty cooperation of Congress and the people in the execution of the laws and the defense of the country, we may enter upon the present campaign with cheerful confidence in the result. And who can doubt the continued existence of that spirit and fortitude in the people, and of that constancy under reverses, which alone are needed to render our triumph secure? What other resource remains available but the undying, unconquerable resolve to be free? It has become certain beyond all doubt or question that we must continue this struggle to a successful issue, or must make abject and unconditional submission to such terms as it shall please the conqueror to impose on us after our surrender. If a possible doubt could exist after the conference between our Commissioners and Mr. Lincoln, as recently reported[1] to you, it would be dispelled by a recent occurrence of which it is proper that you should be informed.

Congress will remember that in the conference above referred to our Commissioners were informed that the Government of the United States would not enter into any agreement or treaty whatever with the Confederate States, nor with any single State; that the only possible mode of obtaining peace was by laying down our arms, disbanding our forces, and yielding unconditional obedience to the laws of the United States, including those passed for the confiscation of our property, and the constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery. It will be further remembered that Mr. Lincoln declared that the only terms on which hostilities could cease were those stated in his message of December last, in which we were informed that in the event of our penitent submission he would temper justice with mercy, and that the question whether we would be governed as dependent territories or per-