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[502] under the contracts I have endeavored to guard in every possible way. I am not sure but that all distillation “for medicinal purposes alone” should be limited to a single district of the State, under the charge of a competent agent, subject to the control of the Executive. But the trial made of the present system does not enable me to make any definite recommendations on this point.

The entire subject is commended to your earnest consideration, and I trust you will devise some means by which the undue distillation of tile cereals, (and I would add molasses,) may be, for the present, effectually suppressed. The enormous profits on whisky afford apparently an irresistible inducement to distil grain; and the unwillingness of the citizens and officials to give information and prosecute is such, that the consumption of grain by distillation, without any permit, is a great evil.

All supplies which the country affords are needed for our armies in the field and our people at home. There is no limit to the capacity of the confederate States now to produce every thing requisite to carry on the war for an indefinite period. While our soldiers are proving themselves equal to the enemy everywhere, we at home may ruin our cause by an unwise failure to develop our resources and preserve our supplies. The two great questions with us are our finances and our supplies. The confederate government is endeavoring to regulate the former; the latter the State governments and the people themselves must regulate, and upon them rests a heavy responsibility.

The act to supply negro labor for coast defences experience has shown cannot be made effectual for the accomplishment of its objects. I have ascertained from the United States census of 1850, an abstract of which is herewith transmitted, that each division, as now arranged by the act, contained then at least five times as many road-hands as are called for by the confederate general, and, at this juncture, doubtless contains more. Not over one half of the road-hands of any one division has heretofore been sent to the coast. If, therefore, each division would furnish one half of its force heretofore sent down — that is, one fourth of its whole force — it would afford largely more than the number called for. But the second division--the only one whose time, so far, has arrived to respond to the call for its half, has furnished less than one fifth of the number called for by the confederate general. While a distrust as to the treatment of tile negroes, and also as to their prompt return, deters some from sending their portion of the labor, the tine is too light to compel any. If that were adequate, the process of collection is too slow, each fine, by law, having to be sued for in the Court of Common Pleas, after being assessed and imposed by the commissioners; and, when collected, there is still no authority for the commissioners to pay this sum to the State agent, who might therewith procure some labor. Some more expeditious mode for procuring the labor and imposing and collecting the fines will have to be adopted to secure the success of the scheme.

Some commissioners have doubted whether less than a quorum of the board can fill vacancies. Many commissioners being in the army, it may be well for the Legislature, at its present session, for this particular purpose, to fill the vacancies, and so to amend the act that one or more commissioners may appoint the number requisite to constitute a quorum, the vacancies to be filled from among such as are exempt from road duty, if necessary. I herewith transmit a copy of a recent correspondence with Colonel John S. Preston, commandant of conscripts for South-Carolina, upon a subject which, I presume, will give rise to no embarrassment. My action in the premises, as the Executive of the State, has been taken in accordance with the dictates of my best judgment; but, as some members of the Legislature entertain views differing somewhat from my own as to the construction to be placed upon your recent act connected with the subject, I have deemed it proper to lay the matter before you for such action as you may consider advisable.

Upon your own deliberations, and my humble efforts to carry out your decisions, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty.

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