Doc. 142.-message of Jefferson Davis. Delivered may 2, 1864.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America:You are assembled under circumstances of deep interest to your country; and it is fortunate that, coming as you do, newly elected by the people, and familiar with the condition of the various localities, you will be better able to devise measures adapted to meet the wants of the public service without imposing unnecessary burdens on the citizen. The brief period which has elapsed since the last adjournment of Congress has not afforded sufficient opportunity to test the efficacy of the most important laws then enacted, nor have the events occurring in the interval been such as materially to change the state of the country. The unjust war commenced against us, in violation of the rights of the States, and in usurpation of power not delegated to the government of the United States, is still characterized by the barbarism with which it has heretofore been conducted by the enemy. Aged men, helpless women and children, appeal in vain to the humanity which should be inspired by their condition, for immunity from arrest, incarceration, or banishment from their homes. Plunder and devastation of the property of non-combatants, destruction of private dwellings, and, even of edifices devoted to the worship of God, expeditions organized for the sole purpose of sacking cities, consigning them to the flames, killing the unarmed inhabitants, and inflicting horrible outrages on women and children, are some of the constantly recurring atrocities of the invader. It cannot reasonably be pretended that such acts conduce to any end which their authors dare avow before the civilized world, and sooner or later Christendom must mete out to them the condemnation which such brutality deserves. The sufferings thus ruthlessly inflicted upon the people of the invaded districts have served but to illustrate their patriotism. Entire unanimity and zeal for their country's cause have been preeminently conspicuous among those whose sacrifices have been greatest. So the army which has borne the trials and dangers of the war, which has been subjected to privations and disappointments, (tests of manly fortitude far more severe than the brief fatigues and perils of actual combat,) has been the centre of cheerfulness and hope. From the camp comes the voice of the soldier-patriot, invoking each who is at home, in the sphere he best may fill, to devote his whole energies to the support of a cause, in the success of which their confidence has never faltered. They, the veterans of many a hard-fought field, tender to their country, without limit of time, a service of priceless value to us, one which posterity will hold in grateful remembrance. In considering the state of the country, the reflection is naturally suggested that this is the Third Congress of the Confederate States of America. The provisional government was formed, its congress held four sessions, lived its appointed term, and passed away. The permanent government was then organized, its different departments established, a Congress elected, which also held four sessions, served its full constitutional term, and expired. You, the second Congress under the permanent government, are now assembled at the time and place appointed by law for commencing your session. All these events have passed into history, notwithstanding the threat of our prompt subjugation, made three years ago, by a people that presume to assert a title to govern States whose separate and independent sovereignty was recognized by treaty with France and Great Britain in the last century, and remained unquestioned for nearly three generations. Yet these very governments, in disregard regard of duty and treaty obligations, which bind them to recognize as independent Virginia and other confederate States, persist in countenancing, by moral influence, if not in aiding by unfair and partial action, the claim set up by the executive of a foreign government to exercise despotic sway over the States thus recognized, and treat the invasion of them by their former limited and special agent as though it were the attempt of a sovereign to suppress a rebellion against lawful authority. Ungenerous advantage has been taken of our present condition, and our rights have been violated, our vessels of war detained in ports in which they had been invited by proclamations of neutrality, and in one instance our flag also insulted where the sacred right of asylum was supposed to be secure; while one of these governments has contented itself with simply deprecating, by deferential representations, the conduct of our enemy in the constantly recurring instances of his contemptuous disregard of neutral rights and flagrant violations of public law. It may be that foreign governments, like our enemies, have mistaken our desire of peace, unreservedly expressed, for evidence of exhaustion, and have thence inferred the probability of success in the efforts to subjugate or exterminate the millions of human beings who, in these States, prefer any fate to submission to their savage assailants. I see no prospect of an early change in the course heretofore pursued by these governments; but when this delusion shall have been dispelled, and when our independence, by the valor and fortitude of our people, shall have been won against all the hostile influences combined against us, and can no longer be ignored by open foes or professed neutrals, this war will have left, with its proud memories, a record of many wrongs, which it may not misbecome us to forgive — some for which we may not properly forbear from demanding redress. In the mean time, it is enough for us to know that every avenue of negotiation is closed against us; that our enemy is making renewed and strenuous efforts for our destruction, and that the sole resource for us, as a people secure in the justice of our cause, and holding