previous next

Doc. 44.-message of Governor Brown.

Executive Department, Milledgeville, Nov. 13, 1862.
To the General Assembly:
I communicate herewith a copy of a letter received on yesterday, from Col. Henry H. Floyd, commanding the militia of Camden County, informing me that on the fourth day of this month three companies of negroes were landed in St. Mary's, who, after insulting the few ladies remaining there, and taking every thing they could lay their hands upon, retired to their gunboats without the slightest molestation. On the same day, all the salt-works in the county were destroyed, except two, which, by this time, have capacity to turn out twenty-five or thirty bushels per day. Unless protection is afforded, these [195] must soon share the same fate. The people on the coast possess large numbers of cattle, hogs, and other stock. The enemy leave their gun-boats, kill and carry off stock without opposition. The colonel asks for an order to call out the militia for three to six months, and says he can muster about thirty or forty.

Adjoining counties upon the coast could add to the number enough to make a considerable force, who are well acquainted with all the localities, and could, on that account, act more effectively against the enemy than the like number of men taken from any other part of the State. It cannot be denied that the State owes it to her citizens, so long as she claims their allegiance, to afford them all the protection in her power.

The Constitution of this State having invested me for the time with the chief command of her militia, I should, under ordinary circumstances, have had no hesitation in issuing an order calling out the whole militia of the county, and of the adjoining counties if necessary, to protect our citizens, and especially the women, against the outrages of invasion, robbery, and insult by negroes.

Under the acts of the confederate Congress and the late decision of our Supreme Court, the authority to command the militia of the State, even for the protection of our mothers and wives, our sisters and daughters, against the brutality of our own slaves in a state of insurrection, seems to be denied to the Governor; as each man composing the militia of the State, except the officers, is declared to be subject to the command of the President without the consent of the Executive of the State. It follows, therefore, that if the Governor should order out the militia in this pressing emergency, which admits of no delay, to protect those citizens of Georgia to whom no protection is afforded by the Confederacy, the President may countermand the order, and compel each person so called out to leave the State and go to the utmost part of the Confederacy, to protect those who are not citizens of this State. The State has reserved to herself the right under the Constitution to “engage in war” when “actually invaded,” and to “keep troops” while she is invaded. That authority which has the right to take from her this power, without which no State can exist, has the power to destroy her.

I believe it is admitted, however, by high authority in this State, that the creature has no power to destroy the creator, the child no power to destroy the parent, and the parent no right to commit suicide. If this be true, the confederate government, which is admitted to be the creature of the States, can certainly have no power to deny to the States, which are the creators, the use of their own militia to protect their own inhabitants against the invasions of the enemy, and the unbridled, savage cruelty of their slaves, in actual insurrection; nor can that government, as the child, destroy the parent by paralyzing her right arm when raised to ward off a blow struck at her very vitals; nor, indeed, can the parent, which is the State, commit suicide by surrendering the command of her entire militia when she is invaded, and her people are left without other sufficient protection, nor by removing her obligation to protect her citizens, and thereby forfeiting their allegiance.

Placed as I am in this embarrassing condition, when helpless innocence calls upon this State for protection, and when the Constitution of this State and the confederate States seem to point clearly to the path of duty upon the one hand, but when the acts of Congress and the decision of our own Supreme Court, rendered under heavy outside pressure, and, if not ex parte, under the most peculiar circumstances ; when the counsel on both sides, who had brought the case before the Court, agreed that in their individual opinions the decision should be as it was made, I deem it my duty to submit the question to the General Assembly, who, as a coordinate branch of the government, represent the sovereign people of the State, and to ask your advice and direction in the premises.

If you should hold that the Governor no longer has the right to command the militia of the State for the protection of her people, it only remains for me to inform the people of Camden and the ladies of St. Mary's that, while the State collects taxes and requires them to bear other public burdens, she withdraws her protection from them, and leaves them to the mercy of negro invaders, who may insult and plunder them at pleasure. Should you hold, on the contrary, that the Governor still has the command of the militia of the Slate, and that she has the right to use her own militia for the protection of our homes, I shall not hesitate to call them forth and so hold them in service as long as the coast is invaded and our people are subject to the insult, robbery, and merciless cruelty of the enemy.

Mr. King offered the following, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the Governor be, and he is hereby authorized to call out such parts of the militia as he may think necessary to protect the citizens of Camden County, and other counties on the coast similarly exposed, against the invasion being made by companies of negroes, sent by the abolitionists to make raids upon our citizens, and to continue them in service as long as the emergency may require.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Joseph E. Brown (2)
James King (1)
Henry H. Floyd (1)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 13th, 1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: