Page:Attainder of treason and confiscation of the property of Rebels - 1863.pdf/11

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Hon. S. A. Foot:

Dear Sir: Some few days since, while in conversation with you, on the all-absorbing topic of the day—the state and prospects of our country—I expressed my doubts, in which you concurred, whether the opinion, which is so commonly entertained, whether, under our Constitution, Congress has a right to confiscate rebel property for anything more than the lifetime of the rebel who is the owner of it, is correct. You encouraged me to investigate the subject; made some valuable suggestions; and very kindly placed at my disposal the ample resources of your Library. I have, therefore, incorporated the results of my investigation into a letter, which I now take the liberty of addressing to you. This I do with the assurance, that the views I have presented accord, in general, with your own, and with the hope, that it may be of interest to others besides ourselves, and of service to our common country.

This subject is important in more than one point of view. Not only does it come before us as a part of the means of putting down the rebellion and punishing the rebels, but it is important in reference to the immense national debt which we shall have to pay. This debt will, in all its items, amount to more than a thousand millions of dollars. By the last census I see, that the "actual value" of property in the rebel states is, $4,708,252,215—