previous next

[357] been a State of the Union, this view of the constitutional relations between the States and the General Government is a fitting introduction to another assertion of the message, that the executive possesses power of suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and of delegating that power to military commanders at their discretion. And both these propositions claim a respect equal to that which is felt for the additional statement of opinion in the same paper, that it is proper, in order to execute the laws, that some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of citizens' liberty that practically it relieves more of the guilty than the innocent, should to a very limited extent be violated. We may well rejoice that we have forever severed our connection with a Government that thus trampled on all principles of constitutional liberty, and with a people in whose presence such avowals could be hazarded. The operations in the field will be greatly extended by reason of the policy which heretofore has been secretly entertained, and is now avowed and acted on by us. The forces hitherto raised provide amply for the defence of seven States which originally organized in the Confederacy, as is evidently the fact, since, with the exception of three fortified islands, whose defence is efficiently aided by a preponderating naval force, the enemy has been driven completely out of these stations; and now, at the expiration of five months from the formation of the Government, not a single hostile foot presses their soil. These forces, however, must necessarily prove inadequate to repel invasion by the half million of men now proposed by the enemy, and a corresponding increase of our forces will become necessary. The recommendations for the raising of this additional force will be contained in the communication of the Secretary of War, to which I need scarcely invite your earnest attention.

In my message delivered in April last, I referred to the promise of the abundant crops with which we were cheered. The grain crops, generally, have since been harvested, and the yield has proven to be the most abundant ever known in our history. Many believe the supply adequate to two years consumption of our population. Cotton, sugar, tobacco, forming a surplus of the production of our agriculture, and furnishing the basis of our commercial interchange, present the most cheering promises ever known. Providence has smiled on the labor which extracts the teeming wealth of our soil in all parts of our Confederacy.

It is the more gratifying to be able to give you this, because, in need of large and increased expenditure, in support of our army, elevated and purified by a sacred cause, they maintain that our fellow-citizens, of every condition of life, exhibit most self-sacrificing devotion. They manifest a laudable pride of upholding their independence, unaided by any resources other than their own, and the immense wealth which a fertilized and genial climate has accumulated in this Confederacy of agriculturists, could not be more strongly displayed than in the large revenues which, with eagerness, they have contributed at the call of their country. In the single article of cotton, the subscriptions to the loan proposed by the Government, cannot fall short of fifty millions of dollars, and will probably exceed that sum; and scarcely an article required for the consumption of our army is provided otherwise than by subscription to the produce loan, so happily devised by your wisdom. The Secretary of the Treasury, in his report submitted to you, will give you the amplest details connected with that branch of the public service; but it is not alone in their prompt pecuniary contributions that the noble race of freemen who inhabit these States evidence how worthy they are of those liberties which they so well know how to defend. In numbers far exceeding those authorized by your laws, they have pressed the tender of their services against the enemy. Their attitude of calm and sublime devotion to their country, the cool and confidant courage with which they are already preparing to meet the invasion, in whatever proportions it may assume; the assurance that their sacrifices and their services will be renewed from year to year with unfailing purpose, until they have made good to the uttermost their rights to self-government; the generous and almost unequivocal confidence which they display in their Government during the pending struggle, all combine to present a spectacle, such as the world has rarely, if ever, seen. To speak of subjugating such a people, so united and determined, is to speak in a language incomprehensible to them; to resist attack on their rights or their liberties is with them an instinct. Whether this war shall last one, or three, or five years, is a problem they leave to be solved by the enemy alone. It will last till the enemy shall have withdrawn from their borders; till their political rights, their altars, and their homes are freed from invasion. Then, and then only, will they rest from this struggle, to enjoy, in peace, the blessings which, with the favor of Providence, they have secured by the aid of their own strong hearts and steady arms.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Providence, R. I. (Rhode Island, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: