66.-the rebel plan to burn cotton.
A large meeting was held at the African church, Richmond
, Thursday evening, February twenty-sixth, to take into consideration and discuss the question of burning the present crops of tobacco and cotton, should the enemy reach the interior.
of Friday gives the following account:
At seven o'clock the doors of that building were thrown open, and the crowd, among whom were many ladies, began immediately to pour in. By half-past 7 o'clock the house was filled by one of the largest, wealthiest, and most intellectual meetings ever assembled in this city.
At five minutes past seven o'clock Dr. Marshall
, of Mississippi
, entered the house, and was greeted by a round of applause, in compliment, we presume, to his spirited speech delivered at the City Hall on Wednesday night. It was a subject of remark with gentlemen who had been frequenters of the African church in old political times gone by, that few of the faces of the vast assemblage were familiar.
Gen. T. J. Green
, of North-Carolina
, called the meeting to order, and Hon. C. K. Marshall
arose and said: This is one of the most important meetings I ever attended.
We have it in our power to do what will have a serious influence not only within the city of Richmond
, but may ameliorate the condition of the race of mankind at large.
The resolutions I am about to read have received the sober and serious consideration of the committee appointed to draft and introduce them.
I respectfully submit them:
Whereas, the Government
of the United States
have made an unprovoked, flagrant, and wicked war on the government and people of the confederate States
, and have conducted that war on principles hitherto unknown among civilized nations; and, whereas, we feel that our only safety against so ruthless and unrelenting a foe is to be found in the courage, patriotism, and self-sacrificing spirit of our people; and, whereas, no sacrifice, however enormous, is too great if it only brings us freedom from our oppressors; and, whereas, the tyrants and despots of the North
have openly proclaimed their purpose to desolate our homes and appropriate our property to their own use, and have, in various instances, carried the infamous threat into practical execution by plundering our people of cotton, tobacco, rice, and other property; and, whereas, fire, when applied by heroic hands, is more formidable than the sword; therefore, it is, by this meeting,
, That as a means of national safety, dictated alike by military necessity and true patriotism, we deem it the imperative duty of this government to adopt measures for the purchase of the entire crops of cotton and tobacco now on hand, with the purpose of at once preventing the appropriation of them by the invaders of our soil and country, and making a fair and equitable compensation for the same to their owners, by such arrangements as shall enable the government to meet the debt incurred thereby without involving the public treasury in any serious liability on account of the said purchase.
Certificate of government liability to be given for the entire property.
, That, as the owners of these great staples, the government would hold in its hands the power of removing so great temptation from the path of the Federal
army, now making its raids into our country and robbing our citizens under the avowed pledges of supplying, by force, the markets of the world with these valuable articles of demand, which must necessarily be done, if those pledges are redeemed, by the total bankruptcy of our planting interests on the one hand and the utter subjugation and enslavement of the people of the South
on the other.
, That possessed of these products, it would become the solemn duty of the government to take immediate action through commissioners appointed for that purpose, or otherwise to take an account of such portions of said crops as are at exposed places, first furnishing the owners thereof with certificates of the amount and value of their crops as evidences of debt by the government therefor, and consign the property to the devouring flames.
, That in case the owners of said staples decline to accept the terms offered by the government, a tax of----cents per pound should be assessed and collected from such crops, and if finally lost or sacrificed, as a measure of public safety thereafter, such owners should not be allowed any compensation for the same.
, That where other articles of produce or stock are exposed to the raids of the enemy, they should be removed, if practicable, and if not practicable, an inventory of them should be taken, with an estimate of their value, by military authority, or a government agent, or in the absence of either, by competent citizens, and certified to by them, and said property forthwith destroyed, and the parties thus deprived of their property should be indemnified by the government.
The resolutions were called for jointly, and the Chairman
announced that any one could now address the meeting who should be called for.
Hon. Mr. Marshall
was called, and arose and said: The resolutions we have presented to you, are the resolutions of the Committee
appointed last night.
We live in a world where it is really for the question: “To be or not to be?”
We are in the midst of a bloody war. We have to contend against great odds.
We have been driven by the blockade to many strange expedients.
Men have seized pikes and lances, for want of proper arms, to defend their wives and daughters and mothers.
(Applause.) Hitherto the authorities who have had our destiny in charge, seem not to have been awake to the exigency of the times.
We have razeed the Merrimac
, and clad her in a jacket of iron.
Why have we not many such vessels?
If the confederate government had at first bought the whole cotton crop, we might now have thirty such vessels.
The Northern invaders crowd around us to desolate our homes, and put us on
an equality with our slaves.
They crowd upon us in countless numbers; but no Southern heart worthy of the name feels downcast.
(Applause.) A man is fit for no position in life until he has met reverses.
After the great successes of Manassas
, we began to believe the hand of Providence
was visibly on our side, and that we had nothing to do; but our late reverses have taught us we must brace our nerves to the contest, and no manly bosom quails.
We come to the cotton question.
The last crop is now actually rotting unbaled.
We have been taught to believe that England
were dependent on this staple, and that they would come and get it. Why do they not come?
I have begun to doubt whether there are such countries as France
The enemy found cotton at Ship Island
; some, it is true, they found in flames, but not enough of it. At Florence
, they went up and took an inconsiderable quantity.
No one seemed to think of setting fire to it. At Nashville
they will perhaps get fifty thousand bales, and the owners, to save their property, will have to swear allegiance to that miserable tyrant, Abe Lincoln
And presently they will descend the Mississippi
, with, perhaps, fifty gunboats, and compel the negroes to load them with cotton, and send it to Europe
, and say, We have opened a cotton port — there is the evidence.
I want us to do something manly — something grand.
I want the confederate government to buy all the cotton, and, if need be, destroy it. If one of those pillars which support this temple were cotton, and the other tobacco, and England
and the United States of America
, and ourselves, depended on them for existence, and it were necessary, I would, Samson-like, drag them down, and let one universal ruin overwhelm civilisation.
Suppose, as these resolutions propose, the government buys the cotton and tobacco crops, it is not to be expected that it will soon be able to pay for them.
Hardships will be the consequence.
Great numbers must suffer.
A tax will have to be imposed. (Mrs. Gen. Gaines
entered the house.) No one is more welcome to such an assembly as this than Mrs. Gen. Gaines
(Great applause.) I will suppose that half of the cotton and tobacco crop has been burned.
My cotton has been burned, and I have received seven cents a pound from the government, while my neighbor's, whose crop has not been burned, has been enhanced double in value.
His small crop of cotton would be a fortune, yet who among us would hesitate to apply the torch to it, sooner than it should fall into the hands of the enemy?
But suppose the government were to buy the whole crop, and determine to burn it — as I want them to do — that the world may see that this little republic, as they may choose to consider us, can strike a blow that will send consternation through the world, while they are talking about conquering the republic, and hanging the President
I want the government to come forward and say, Here is the money for four million bales of cotton, and give it to her commissioners, and say, burn it. I want the government to go in search of the cotton, instead of leaving it to be captured by her iron-clad steamers.
The government have two million bales as a financial measure.
There are some gentlemen present, who raise as much as four thousand bales of cotton, and who say they will themselves burn it, indemnity or not, rather than the Yankees
shall get possession of it. A lady of my acquaintance has said, she will not only burn her crop, but her house itself, and take to the forest, rather than see the enemy possess it. (Applause.) We shall ruin our own interest by letting this crop lie here, and put another crop upon it. Cotton, instead of being ten cents, will not command more than three cents. Suppose the blockade were opened now, we could not get it to market by August.
The boats which used to transport our cotton are engaged in making war upon us, and some of them have got well peppered at Fort Donelson
They are to-day planting cotton in Texas
, and next week they will begin to plant further North.
I needn't enlarge on this to planters.
It is evident to them, there will be two crops on the market before next January.
Some will say, we will force England
to go to India
I will say to her, Go!
has spent three hundred and fifty million pounds, and gotten Louisiana
planters to go to those distant countries, and has been obliged to give it up as. a forlorn hope.
But suppose England
finds other cotton-fields, I'd like to know if we can't find other spinners for our crops, and be forever independent of her. To the west of us are two little countries, China
they desire to put all their lands in tea, but they fear to discontinue the raising of cotton.
If they could get cotton elsewhere, they would put all the land in tea. Well, then, the best spinners and weavers in China
can be hired for nine cents a day, and we can get them to spin and weave our cotton long before England
can find other cotton-fields.
are not so distant from us, as we were from England
put the first cotton-gin in operation in Savannah
I hope Congress will take up and pass these resolutions.
I have great hope from this meeting.
So much have these resolutions to recommend them to the people of the Southern Confederacy, that were I addressing them to-night, I believe I could get an over-whelming vote for government buying the entire crops of cotton and tobacco, and consigning them to the flames.
, of Kentucky
, being called on, then addressed the meeting in a speech advocating the resolutions, which elicited much applause, and which we regret our space will not permit us to publish.
On motion of Edmund Ruffin
, the resolutions were then put to the meeting, and unanimously adopted.
After the adoption of the resolutions, the Hon. H. S. Foote
was called to the stand, and in a strong address approved the resolutions.
At a late hour the meeting adjourned.