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[677] wars, and unknown to our ancestors in the war of their revolution. Mr. Stephens here said he alluded to our great staple—cotton; and he should not have said more upon it at this time, than barely to ask those present to call to their minds what he had said to most of them last year upon that subject when he addressed them upon the cotton loan, but for some misconceptions that had got in the public mind, from a phonographic report of some remarks he made at a meeting lately in Sparta. Some, from that report, said Mr. Stephens, have taken the idea that I urged upon the planters there to plant largely of cotton next year. Allow me, in this connection, to say that nothing could be further from the fact. I urged upon the planters there, first and above all, to grow grain and stock for home consumption, and to supply the army. What I said at Sparta upon the subject of cotton many of you have often heard me say in private conversation, and most of you in the public speech last year to which I alluded. Cotton, I have maintained and do maintain, is one of the greatest elements of power, if not the greatest at our command, if it were but properly and efficiently used, as it might have been, and still might be. Samson's strength was in his locks. Our strength is in our locks — not of hair or wool, but in our locks of cotton. I believed from the beginning that the enemy would inflict upon us more serious injury by the blockade than by all other means combined. It was in the judgment of all a matter of the utmost, if not vital importance, to have it raised, removed, or broken up. How was it to be done? That was and is the question. It was thought by many that such was the demand for cotton in England that she would disregard the blockade, as it was, and has been all along, not within the terms of the Paris agreement, that is, has not been at any time entirely effectual, though close enough to do us great injury. I did not concur in this opinion, as most of you well know. I thought it would have to be done by ourselves, and could be done through the agency of cotton, not as a political, but as a commercial and financial power. I was in favor, as you know, of the Government's taking all the cotton that would be subscribed for eight per cent. bonds at a rate or price as high as ten cents a pound.

Two millions of the last year's crop might have been counted upon as certain on this plan. This at ten cents, with bags of the average commercial weight, would have cost the government one hundred millions of bonds. With this amount of cotton in hand and pledged, any number short of fifty of the best ironclad steamers could have been contracted for and built in Europe. Steamers at the cost of two millions each could be procured every way equal to the Monitor. Thirty millions would have got fifteen of these, which might have been enough for our purpose. Five might have been ready by the first of January last to open some one of the ports blockaded on our coast. Three of these could have been left to keep the port open, and two could have convoyed the cotton across the water, if necessary. Thus the debt could have been promptly paid with cotton at a much higher price than it cost, and a channel of trade kept open till others, and as many more as necessary, might have been built and paid for in the same way. At a cost of less than one mouth's present expenditure on our army, our coast might have been cleared. Besides

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