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[339] from your letter. You proceed: “Congress shall have power to raise armies. How shall it be done? The answer is clear. In conformity to the provisions of the Constitution, which expressly provides that when the militia of the States are called forth to repel invasion, and employed in the service of the confederate States, which is now the case, the State shall appoint the officers.”

I beg you to observe that the answer, which you say is clear, is not an answer to the question put. The question is, how are armies to be raised? The answer given is, that when militia are called forth to repel invasion, the States shall appoint the officers.

There seems to me to be a conclusive test on this whole subject. By our Constitution Congress may declare war, offensive as well as defensive. It may acquire territory. Now, suppose that, for good cause and to right unprovoked injuries, Congress should declare war against Mexico, and invade Sonora. The militia, could not be called forth in such case, the right to call it being limited “to repel invasions.” Is it not plain that the law now under discussion, if passed under such circumstances, could by no possibility be aught else than a law to “raise an army” ? Can one and the same law be construed into a “calling forth the militia,” if the war be defensive, and a “raising of armies,” if the war be offensive?

At some future day after our independence shall have been established, it is no improbable supposition that our present enemy may be tempted to abuse his naval power by depredations on our commerce; and that we may be compelled to assert our rights by offensive war. How is this to be carried on? Of what is the army to be composed? If this government cannot call on its arms-bearing population more than as militia, and if the militia can only be called forth to repel invasion, we should be utterly helpless to vindicate our honor or protect our rights. War has been well styled “the terrible litigation of nations.” Have we so formed our government, that in this litigation we may never be plaintiff? Surely this cannot have been the intention of the framers of our compact.

In no aspect in which I can view this law, can I find just reason to distrust the propriety of my action in approving and signing it; and the question presented involves consequences, both immediate and remote, too momentous to permit me to leave your objections unanswered.

In conclusion, I take great pleasure in recognizing that the history of the past year affords the amplest justification for your assertion that if the question had been, whether the conscription law was necessary in order to raise men in Georgia, the answer must have been in the negative. Your noble State has promptly responded to every call that it has been my duty to make on her; and to you, personally, as her Executive, I acknowledge my indebtedness for the prompt, cordial, and effective cooperation you have afforded me in the effort to defend our common country against the common enemy.

I am, very respectfully, your ob't serv't,

Jefferson Davis. His Excellency, Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia, Milledgeville.

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