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Doc. 164-Governor Vance's appeal to the planters of North-Carolina.

The peculiar calamities which often befall a nation struggling for its existence are about to come upon us in the shape of scarcity of provisions and a threatened famine. While it is still believed there is enough in the country, if fairly distributed, it is certain there is none to spare, and there is danger that insufficient preparations will be male for the ensuing season, and that a considerable proportion of the labor of the country will be devoted to the production of crops other than breadstuffs.

The Legislature having adjourned without taking action to prevent this much dreaded state of things, and it not being deemed expedient to call it together again so early after its adjournment, I have deemed it my duty to address you in this extraordinary manner, praying you of your own will to avert it. And I am confident that the large-hearted patriotism — the wonderful generosity which last year filled to overflowing the store-houses of our quartermasters, in response to my call in behalf of our naked soldiers, has not yet deserted the farmers of North-Carolina.

By universal consent there is allowed to be but one danger to our speedy and triumphant success, and that is the failure of our provisions. Our victorious soldiers now constitute the best army in the world. Arms and munitions are abundant. Time and experience have given us admirable leaders, and every thing is prosperous and hopeful except in the fields land work-shops. Every thing depends now upon the industry and patriotism of the farmer. Now that so many brawny arms which were wont to hold the plough have gone into the ranks, unless those still at home strain every nerve to produce bread, our cause may be ruined.

Without bread the soldier has neither strength nor courage. Without bread, the cries of his little ones at home will reach his ears in the distant camps and cast a sickening chill to his heart. No braver, no skill, nor device, nor human wisdom can cope with that dreaded enemy — Famine. While our brave defenders are facing death upon the field, we at home must sustain and feed them, or in vain will their blood be spilled. Our duties, though less glorious and pretending, are equally as important and well defined.

Though not battling with the living and embodied enemies of our country, we are yet in her service, and struggling with a far more dangerous and insidious destroyer. And as the soldier who shirks the conflict and deserts his comrades in the hour of battle, is a coward or a traitor, so equally is he who withholds his hands from the plough, or guides it to the production of those crops [525] which produce money and not bread, though he may not so intend it.

The humblest mother in all the land, who, amid the harrowing cries of a helpless family, can find time to plant a few potatoes near her cabin door; the poorest little boy whose infant and unskilled hands may plant a few hills of corn or gather the sheaves of harvest, will each do a more acceptable service in the sight of God and his countrymen, and is worthy of more honor than he who raises one thousand bales of cotton or one hundred hogsheads of tobacco, and ostentatiously devotes a small portion to some “Aid society.”

The bright sunshine again warms and dries the earth. We must use it to our salvation, or neglect it to our destruction. Plant, sow, dig and plough; corn, oats, potatoes — any thing and every thing which will support life. Let every body take to the fields, where the plough, not the maddening wheels of artillery, furrow the generous soil. These will prove the real fields of victory and independence. Hundreds of able-bodied young men in our towns and villages-non-producers — who, having procured substitutes or exemptions, now idle their time about empty stores or other unprofitable places, should be growing something, and adding to instead of diminishing the general fund.

Let none be idle. And above all, my countrymen, let none plant cotton or tobacco. Though the prices are high, and the temptation great, your profits would be made from the blood of brave men and the suffering of helpless women and children. Your children and your children's children would reap an abundant and enduring harvest of scorn, and the remembrance of the manner in which your wealth was gained would burn into your conscience to the hour of death.

While I thus appeal to you in behalf of the preparations for another year, it is also my duty to speak of the present. Ninety days will bring us to harvest, and I am confident we can reach it without actual suffering, if all parties will do as duty and Christianity prompt. Let all who have to spare divide liberally with those who have not. Sell to the county and State agents when your neighbors are supplied,and do not wait for it to be impressed.

Impressed it certainly will be before our armies shall be disorganized by the suffering of their families for the want of that which you can spare, and for which a fair price will be offered you. Allowance your work-hands and your negroes. They are no better than soldiers, who live on half their daily portion. Put your stock in the woods and upon grass the moment they can live upon it, and conscientiously devote the saving to your neighbor's children whose father or brother is fighting your battles.

Let the magistrates see that distillation is arrested, by issuing promptly process against every man who dares to waste the precious grains of life in defiance of law. Avoid, above all things, mob violence. Broken laws will give you no bread, but much sorrow; and when forcible seizures have to be made to arrest starvation, let it be done by county or State agents. Should Providence favor our growing crops, a plenteous harvest will, I trust and believe, greet our gallant soldiers again victorious through another campaign, and bring us to the blessed day of peace and independence.

In order that the most effectual means in our power may be speedily and systematically adopted both for the husbanding and distribution of our present supplies, and for securing a large provision crop for the next year, I earnestly recommend that meetings of the farmers and planters of each county and neighborhood of the State be held immediately to express their condemnation of cotton and tobacco planting, and to devise means of mutual aid and assistance in the trials of the coming season. Much good can be done in this way, and a wholesome public opinion set forth, more powerful, perhaps, to steer us past our impending dangers than the fines and penalties of a statute.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. Vance. Raleigh, April 2, 1863.

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