145. extortion at the South.
The Southern (Ga.) Confederacy
of Nov. 9th, publishes the following on this subject:
Some time ago we published an extract from the Message of the Governor
upon the extortions which have of late been introduced by those who have at heart their own interests more than the good of their fellow-mortals and of the country.
A few days ago Mr. Jones
presented to the Tennessee Legislature the proceedings of a meeting of a portion of the citizens of Nashville
, in regard to the extortions now practised, at which the following resolutions were adopted:
, That the Legislature of the State of Tennessee
be requested to pass some law that will prevent the ruinous prices now sought to be placed upon the staples of life, even if it shall be necessary to place the same in the hands of the military authorities.
, That we recommend that by law a tax be levied upon every gallon of spirituous liquors distilled from wheat, corn, rye, or potatoes, that shall be sufficient to prohibit the same during the present war and blockade — the proceeds thereof to be applied to the support of families with us of our soldiers on the tented field.
We approve these resolutions, and hope our Legislature, at its present session, will devise some wise and equitable plan to put a stop to the evil.
There is a wrong doing upon this subject, that ought to be reached in some way and regulated by law.
On the same day, in the Tennessee Legislature, Mr. Caruthers
, from the Committee
on Judiciary, to whom was referred that portion of the Governor
's Message, reported two bills on the subject of frauds, speculations, and monopolies.
One was “a bill to suppress buying and selling on false pretences,” and the other was “a bill to suppress monopolies.”
These bills have fines and imprisonments in county jails and pentitentiaries as the penalties for various grades of offences under these acts.
The Governor of Alabama
recently issued a proclamation condemning the practice which is doing so much mischief, in which he instructed the agents of the State
to purchase nothing from men so engaged; and in his recent Message to the Legislature he says: “Complaints have been made to me from many portions of the State
, that there were persons engaged in purchasing articles indispensable to the support of the army and of our poor people, for the purpose, and with the intent, of extorting extravagant prices from those who might be compelled to purchase these articles.
Upon this information I issued a proclamation denouncing such conduct as unpatriotic and wicked, and instructed the quartermasters and other agents of the State
to purchase nothing from such persons.
Merchants and tradesmen, in common with persons engaged in every legitimate pursuit, are entitled to a fostering care of the Government
; but when so forgetful of social duty and regardless of the interest of their country, as to monopolize the trade in those commodities most necessary for the comfort and subsistence of our soldiers and citizens, it becomes the duty of the Legislature, as the public guardians, to adopt such measures as will prevent, as far as possible, the State
and people from becoming the prey of such harpies.”
of Augusta, Georgia
, has lately issued a proclamation on this subject, and public meetings have been held in Macon
, and elsewhere, to inaugurate some movement to suppress the unjust and unpatriotic speculations in the prime necessaries of life — the greatest wants of the soldiers who are now fighting for the liberty which these men so abuse, and the wants of their poor families, who have already suffered much, and will suffer more unless a stop is put to it by the strong arm of the law.
, of Georgia
, in his late Message, has also recommended the Legislature to take this matter in hand, to regulate so as to cure the evil and do justice to all. The Governors of Mississippi
These are some of the indications of public opinion.
We will now clearly define our own position on this subject.
times every man should be allowed to buy and sell any article of merchandise, or any farm productions, for just such prices as he can or will.
But the times now upon us are extraordinary
, and impose upon all
such obligations of patriotism and duty to their fellow-citizens, as do not exist in times of peace and prosperity, and there should be some way of enforcing a compliance with these obligations and duties to the extent of their existence and no further.
For instance, our fellow-citizens have left their homes and their families to fight our battles for us. They must be clothed, and they have to buy their own clothing
. It is notorious that a few men have bought up all the material that could be had, out of which their clothing could be made, and have asked the most exorbitant prices for it. The Government must feed them, and their families at home must be fed; but men with a speculative turn of mind have bought up largely the bacon and salt of the country — articles of prime necessity — which the soldier who fights, bleeds, and dies for his country, and the poor wife and children which he leaves behind him, must have or perish — and have demanded exorbitant prices for them.
It is wrong and unpatriotic, and men should not do it; and our Legislature should not allow it to be done.
Before this war commenced bacon could be bought for ten and twelve and a half cents per pound.
It is now selling at thirty cents. Nothing has transpired to increase the cost of making
it, and its transportation costs no more.
And our Government should have it to feed the soldiers; and their poor families at home should have it at a more reasonable rate; and those engaged in the sale of it should have that much patriotism
If they have it not, the law should furnish them with it.
Country jeans should be had for fifty cents per yard before the war, now it is from one dollar twenty-five to one dollar fifty.
The labor of making it and the material out of which it is made cost no more now than then; and the soldier should have it to clothe him while he fights for us at more reasonable rates.
Patriotism demands this much at the hands of those who deal in such articles.
It may be difficult to frame a law to meet the exigencies of this case; but the necessity is great, and we are in favor of the Legislature making the attempt.
Coffee is selling from fifty to sixty cents per pound; but we say let it sell for whatever people are willing to give for it. It is not an article of prime necessity.
It is a luxury; and let those who indulge in it get it as cheap as they can. Fine dress goods
are luxuries, not necessities; let those who wear them pay what dealers see fit to ask. We would make no restrictions on any such articles as these.
But during the war, when our national existence, our greatest interests, and personal honor are at stake, we would put a check upon the disposition to speculate upon such articles as the Government
and the soldier must
have or perish.
And now, in conclusion, we deprecate the spirit manifested by some in relation to this matter.
Our neighbor, the Intelligencer
, a few days ago, indulged in what we consider intemperate strictures, which, if heeded, would excite the people to deeds worse than those complained of. Such subjects should not be dealt rashly with, and the rights and equity of dealers should not be run over rough-shod by a mob, or an enraged populace, so long as any thing else will avail.
We are in favor of abiding by law and recognizing every man's legal rights as long as they exist.
These times, however, have imposed upon us obligations toward each other, and toward the Confederate Government, which our present laws do not exact.
We are in favor of having the authorities take this matter in hand, and deal with it so as to respect the rights of dealers, while justice is secured to those who are needy.
There is a line of demarkation — a golden mean — that should be carefully observed in this matter.