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[172] first service was to be to capture our forts. It was a plain declaration of war which I was not at liberty to disregard, because of my knowledge that under the Constitution of the United States the President was usurping a power granted exclusively to the congress.

He is the sole organ of communication between that country and foreign powers. The law of nations did not permit me to question the authority of the Executive of a foreign nation to declare war against this Confederacy. Although I might have refrained from taking active measures for our defence, if the States of the Union had all imitated the action of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, by denouncing it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power to which they refuse to respond, I was not at liberty to disregard the fact that many of the States seemed quite content to submit to the exercise of the powers assumed by the President of the United States, and were actively engaged in levying troops for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. Deprived of the aid of congress, at the moment I was under the necessity of confining my action to a call on the States for volunteers for the common defence, in accordance with the authority you had confided to me before your adjournment.

I deemed it proper further to issue a proclamation, inviting applications from persons disposed to aid in our defence in private armed vessels on the high seas, to the end that preparations might be made for the immediate issue of letters of marque and reprisal, which you alone, under the constitution, have the power to grant.

I entertain no doubt that you will concur with me in the opinion, that in the absence of an organized navy, it will be eminently expedient to supply their place with private armed vessels, so happily styled by the publicists of the United States the militia of the sea, and so often and justly relied on by them as an efficient and admirable instrument of defensive warfare.

I earnestly recommend the immediate passage of a law authorizing me to accept the numerous proposals already received.

I cannot close this review of the acts of the Government of the United States without referring to a proclamation issued by their President under date of the 19th inst., in which, after declaring that an insurrection has broken out in this Confederacy against the Government of the United States, he announces a blockade of all the ports of these States, and threatens to punish as pirates all persons who shall molest any vessel of the United States under letters of marque issued by this government. Notwithtanding the authenticity of this proclamation, you will concur with me that it is hard to believe that it could have emanated from a President of the United States.

Its announcement of a mere paper blockade is so manifestly a violation of the law of nations, that it would seem incredible that it could have been issued by authority; but conceding this to be the case, so far as the Executive is concerned, it will be difficult to satisfy the people of these States that their late confederates will sanction its declarations — will determine to ignore the usages of civilized nations, and will inaugurate a war of extermination on both sides, by treating as pirates open enemies acting under the authority of commissions issued by an organized government.

If such proclamation was issued, it could only have been published under the sudden influence of passion, and we may rest assured that mankind will be spared the horrors of the conflict it seems to invite.

For the details of the administration of the different departments, I refer to the reports of the secretaries of each, which accompany this message.

The State Department has furnished the necessary instructions for those commissioners who have been sent to England, France, Russia and Belgium, since your adjournment, to ask our recognition as a member of the family of nations, and to make with each of these powers treaties of amity and commerce.

Further steps will be taken to enter into like negotiations with the other European Powers, in pursuance to resolutions passed at your last session.

Sufficient time has not yet elapsed since the departure of these commissioners for the receipt of any intelligence from them.

As I deem it desirable that commissioners or other diplomatic agents should also be sent at an early period to the independent American Powers south of our Confederacy, with all of whom it is our interest and earnest wish to maintain the most cordial and friendly relations, I suggest the expediency of making the necessary appropriations for that purpose.

Having been officially notified by the public authorities of the State of Virginia that she had withdrawn from the Union and desired to maintain the closest political relations with us which it was possible at this time to establish, I commissioned the Hon. Alex. II. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States, to represent this government at Richmond.

I am happy to inform you that he has concluded a convention with the State of Virginia, by which that honored Commonwealth, so long and justly distinguished among her sister States, and so dear to the hearts of thousands of her children in the Confederate States, has united her power and her fortunes with ours and become one of us. This convention, together with the ordinance of Virginia adopting the Provisional Constitution of the Confederacy will be laid before you for your constitutional action.

I have satisfactory assurances from other of our late. confederates that they are on the point of adopting similar measures; and I cannot doubt that, ere you shall have been many weeks

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