Doc. 164.-Proclamation of Governor Vance.
Wheras, a number of public meetings have recently been held in various portions of the State, in some of them threats have been made of combined resistance to the execution of the laws of Congress in regard to conscription and the collection of taxes, thereby endangering the public peace and tranquillity, as well as the common cause of independence, which we have so solemnly engaged to defend; and, whereas, it is my sworn duty to see all the laws in the land faithfully executed, and quiet and order maintained within our borders: Now, therefore, I, Zebulon B. Vance, Governor of the State of North-Carolina, do issue this, my proclamation, commanding all such persons to renounce such evil intentions, and warning them to beware of the criminal and fatal consequences of carrying such threats into execution. The inalienable and invaluable right of the people to assemble together and consult for the common good, together with its necessary concomitants — the freedom of speech and the press — are secured to you, my countrymen, by the most sacred compacts. They shall never find a disturber in me. Yet you will remember that the same instruments which guarantee these great rights also limit you to the exercise of them within the bounds of law, and impose upon me the solemn duty of seeing that these bounds be not transgressed. The Constitution of the Confederate States, and all laws passed in pursuance thereof, are the supreme law of the land. Resistance to them by combination is treason, and, without combination, is a high crime against the laws of your country. Let no one be deceived. So long as these laws remain upon the statutebook they shall be executed. Surely, my countrymen, you would not seek to cure the evils of one revolution by plunging the country into another. You will not knowingly, to the present desolating war with the common enemy, and the horrors of eternal strife and entire subversion of law and civil authority! You must not forget the enviable character which you have always maintained as a sober, conservative, and lawabiding people; nor would I have you to forget the plain, easy, and constitutional method of redressing your grievances. Meet and denounce any existing laws if you think proper — you have that right — and instruct your representatives in the Congress or the State Legislature, as the case may be, to repeal them. Your own chosen servants made these obnoxious laws — they can report them, if such are your instructions. If you regard them as unconstitutional, our Supreme Court sits ready to decide upon all cases properly brought before it. Its decisions are final in the State of North-Carolina, and shall be executed while the power remains in our Executive to enforce any law. There is no grievance to redress and no proposition to be made, but can be most beneficially effected in the way our fathers marked out by the ballot-box and the other constitutionally  appointed means. In time of great public sensibility like the present, any departure from this legal channel is revolutionary and dangerous, and tends to the division and destruction of our people. It is my great desire, and, I hope, that of all good citizens, that our people should remain united, befall us what may. Should we triumph in the great struggle for independence, let no feelings of revenge, no bitterness mar the rejoicing of that glorious day; should we fail, and come short of that great object for which we have struggled so long and bled so freely, let not our strifes and domestic feuds add to the bitterness of defeat. Attempts suddenly to change the existing order of things would only result in bloodshed and ruin. I therefore implore you, my countrymen, of all shades of political opinion, to abstain from assembling together for the purpose of denouncing each other, whether at home or in the army, and to avoid seeking any remedy for the evils of the times by other than legal means, and through the properly constituted authorities. We are embarked in the holiest of all causes which can stir the hearts of patriots — the cause of liberty and independence. We are committed to it by every tie that can bind an honorable people. Multitudes of our bravest and best have already sealed it with their blood, whilst others, giving up all earthly possessions, are either languishing in dungeons or are homeless wanderers through the land, and all have felt in a greater or less degree the iron hand of war. A great and glorious nation is struggling to be born, and wondering kingdoms and distant empires are stilled with listening hope and admiration, watching this greatest of human events. Let them not, I pray you, be shocked with the spectacle of domestic strife and petty, malignant feuds. Let not our enemy be rejoiced to behold our strong arms and stronger devotion, which have often made them tremble, turned against ourselves. Let us rather show that the God of liberty is in his holy temple — the hearts of freemen — and bid all the petty bickerings of earth keep silence before him. Instead of engaging in this unholy and unpatriotic strife, and threatening to resist the laws of the land and endangering the peace of society, let us prepare diligently, and with hopeful hearts, for the hardships and sufferings of the coming winter. Heaven has blessed us with abundant crops, but thousands of the poor are unable to purchase. Let us begin in time, and use every effort to provide for them, and secure them against suffering. And let us exert ourselves to the utmost to return to duty the many brave but misguided men who have left their country's flag in the hour of danger, and God will yet bless us and our children, and our children's children will thank us for not despairing of the Republic in its darkest hours of disaster, and, still more, for adhering to and preserving, amid the fiery trials of war, conservative sentiments and the rights and civil liberties of the young confederacy. In witness whereof, Zebulon B. Vance, our
Done at the city of Raleigh, this seventh day of September, A. D. 1863, and in the year of American independence the eighty-eighth.
|Governor, Captain-General, and Commander-in-Chief, hath signed these presents, and caused the great seal of the State to be affixed.|