Senate.Monday, November 7, 1864. The Senate met at 12 o'clock M., and was called to order by Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, President protem. The proceedings were opened with prayer by the Rev. T. V. Moore, of the Presbyterian church. On the call of the roll, the following Senators answered to their names: Messrs. Robert W. Barnweliz of South Carolina; Henry C. Burnett, of Kentucky; Allen T. Caperton, of Virginia; William T. Dortch, of North-Carolina; William A. Graham, of North Carolina; Gustavus A. Henry, of Tennessee; Benjamin H. Hill, of Georgia; Robert M. T. Hunter, of Virginia; Waldo P. Johnson, of Missouri; Augustus E. Maxwell, of Florida; James L. Orr, of South Carolina; Edward Sparrow, of Louisiana, and William E. Simms, of Kentucky. Thirteen members, constituting a quorum, being found present, Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, offered the following, which was adopted: "Ordered, That the Secretary acquaint the House of Representatives that a quorum of the Senate has assembled, and that the Senate is ready to proceed to business." The following, by Mr. Orr, was also adopted: "Ordered,, That the daily hour of meeting of the Senate be 12 o'clock M. until otherwise ordered." A communication having been received that the House of Representatives had organized, and were prepared to proceed to business, on motion of Mr. Hill, of Georgia, a committee of three were appointed by the President protem. to await upon the President, in conjunction with a committee of the House, and inform him that Congress was in readiness to receive any message he might have to make Messrs. Hill, of Georgia; Barnwell, of South Carolina, and Graham, of North Carolina, were appointed the committee on the part of the Senate. After a short absence, the committee returned.--Mr. Hill, of Georgia, announced that the President would make a communication to Congress in writing, and in due course the following message was received and read:
Message of the President.
Foreign Relations.It is not in my power to announce any change in the conduct of foreign powers. No such action has been taken by the Christian nations of Europe as might justly have been expected from their history, from the duties imposed by international law, and from the claims of humanity. It is charitable to attribute their conduct to no worse motive than indifference to the consequences of a struggle which shakes only the republican portion of the American continent; and not to ascribe to design a course calculated to ensure the prolongation of hostilities. No instance in history is remembered by me in which a nation pretending to exercise dominion ever another, asserting its, independence, has been the first to concede the existence of such independence. No case can be recalled to my mind in which neutral powers have failed to set the example of recognizing the independence of a nation, when satisfied of the inability of its enemy to subvert its Government; and this, too, in cases where the previous relation between the contending parties had been confessedly that of mother-country and dependent colony; not, as in our case, that of co-equal States united by Federal compact. It has ever been considered the proper function and duty of neutral powers to perform the office of judging whether, in point of fact, the nation asserting dominion is able to make good its pretensions by force of arms, and if not, by recognition of the resisting party, to discountenance the further continuance of the contest. And the reason why this duty is incumbent on neutral power is plainly apparent, when we reflect that the pride and passion which blind the judgment of the parties to the conflict cause the continuance of active warfare, and consequent useless slaughter, long after the inevitable result has become apparent to all not engaged in the struggle. So long, therefore, as neutral nations fail, by recognition of our independence, to announce that, in their judgment, the United States are unable to reduce the Confederacy to submission, their conduct will be accepted by our enemies as a tacit encouragement to continue their efforts, and as an implied assurance that belief is entertained by neutral nations in the success of their designs. A direct stimulus, whether intentional or not, is thus applied to securing a continuance of the carnage and devastation which desolate this continent, and which they profess deeply to deplore. The disregard of this just, humane, and Christian public duty by the nations of Europe is the more remarkable from the fact that authentic expression has long since been given by the Governments of both France and England to the conviction that the United States are unable to conquer the Confederacy. It is now more than two years since the Government of France announced officially to the Cabinets of London and St. Petersburg its own conclusion that the United States were unable to achieve any decisive military success. In the answers sent by those Powers no intimation of a contrary opinion was conveyed; and it is notorious that, in speeches, both in and out of Parliament, the members of Her Britannic Majesty's Government have not hesitated to express this conviction in unqualified terms. The denial of our right under these circumstances is so obviously unjust, and discriminates so unfairly in favor of the United States, that neutrals have sought to palliate the wrong, of which they are conscious, by professing to consider, in opposition to notorious truth and to the known belief of both belligerents, that the recognition of our independence would be valueless without their further intervention in the struggle; an intervention of which we disclaim the desire and mistrust the advantage. We seek no favor; we wish no intervention; we know ourselves fully competent to maintain our own rights and independence against the invaders of our country; and we feel justified in asserting that, without the aid derived from recruiting their armies from foreign countries, the invaders would, ere this, have been driven from our soil. When the recognition of the Confederacy was refused by Great Britain in the fall of 1862, the refusal was excused on the ground that any action by Her Majesty's Government would have the effect of inflaming the passions of the belligerents and of preventing the return of peace. It is assumed that this opinion was sincerely entertained; but the experience of two years of unequalled carnage shows that it was erroneous, and that the result was the reverse of what the British Ministry humanely desired. A contrary policy, a policy just to us, a policy diverging from an unvarying course of concession to all the demands of our enemies, is still within the power of Her Majesty's Government, and would, it is fair to presume, be productive of consequences the opposite of those which have unfortunately followed its whole course of conduct from the commencement of the war to the present time. In a word, peace is impossible without independence, and it is not to be expected that the enemy will anticipate neutrals in the recognition of that independence. When the history of this war shall be fully disclosed, the calm judgment of the impartial publicist will, for these reasons, be unable to absolve the neutral nations of Europe from a share in the moral responsibility for the myriads of human lives that have been unnecessarily sacrificed during its progress. The renewed instances in which foreign powers have given us just cause of complaint need not here be detailed. The extracts from the correspondence of the State Department, which accompany this message, will afford such further information as can be given without detriment to the public interest, and we must reserve for the future such action as may then be deemed advisable to secure redress.
Finances.Your special attention is earnestly invited to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, submitted in conformity with law. The facts therein disclosed are far from discouraging, and demonstrate that, with judicious legislation, we shall be enabled to meet all the exigencies of the war from our abundant resources, and avoid, at the same time, such an accumulation of debt as would render at all doubtful our capacity to redeem it. The total receipts into the treasury for the two quarters ending on the 30th of September, 1864. were $415,191,550, which sum, added to the balance of $308,282,722 that remained in the treasury on the 1st of April last, forms a total of $723,474,272. Of this total, not far from half, that is to say, $342,560,327, have been applied to the extinction of the public debt, while the total expenditures have been $272,378,505, leaving a balance in the treasury on the 1st of October, 1864, of $108,435,440. The total amount of the public debt, as exhibited on the books of the Register of the Treasury, on the 1st October, 1864. was $1,147,970,208, of which $539,340,090 were funded debt, bearing interest, $283,880,150 were treasury notes of the new issue, and the remainder consisted of the former issue of treasury notes which will be converted into other forms of debt and will cease to exist as currency on the 31st of next month. The report, however, explains that, inconsequence of the absence of certain returns from distant officers, the true amount of the debt is less, by about twenty-one and a half millions of dollars, than appears on the books of the Register, and that the total public debt on the 1st of last month may be fairly considered to have been $1,126,381,095. The increase of the public debt during the six months from the 1st April to the 1st October was $97,650,780, being rather more than $16,000,000 per month, and it will be apparent, on a perusal of the report, that this augmentation would have been avoided, and a positive reduction of the amount would have been effected, but for certain defects in the legislation on the subject of the finances, which are pointed out in the report, and which seem to admit of easy remedy. In the statements just made, the foreign debt is omitted. It consists only of the unpaid balance of the loan known as the cotton loan. This balance is but £2,200,000, and is adequately provided for by about two hundred and fifty thousand bales of cotton, owned by the Government, even it the cotton be rated as worth but six pence per pound. There is one item of the public debt not included in the tables presented, to which your attention is required. The bounty bonds promised to our soldiers by the third section of the act of 17th February, 1864 were deliverable on the 1st of October.--The Secretary has been unable to issue them by reason of an omission in the law, no time being therein fixed for the payment of the bonds. The aggregate appropriations called for by the different departments of the Government, according to the estimates submitted with the report, for the six months ending on the 30th June, 1865, amount to $438,102,679, while the Secretary estimates that there will remain unexpended, out of former appropriations, on the 1st January, 1865. a balance of $467,416,504. It would, therefore, seem that former estimates have been largely in excess of actual expenditures, and that no additional appropriations are required for meeting the needs of the public service up to the 1st July of next year. Indeed, if the estimates now presented should prove to be as much in excess of actual expenditures as has heretofore been the case, a considerable balance will still remain unexpended at the close of the first half of the ensuing year. The chief difficulty to be apprehended in connection with our finances results from the depreciation of the treasury notes, which seems justly to be attributed by the Secretary to two causes: redundancy in amount and want of confidence in ultimate redemption; for both of which, remedies are suggested that will commend themselves to your consideration as being practicable as well as efficient. The main features of the plan presented are substantially these; 1st. That the faith of the Government be pledged that the notes shall ever remain exempt from taxation. 2d. That no issue shall be made beyond that which is already authorized by law. 3d. That a certain fixed portion of the annual receipts from taxation during the war shall be set apart specially for the gradual extinction of the outstanding amount until it shall have been reduced to $150,000,000; and 4th. The pledge and appropriation of such proportion of the tax in kind, and for such number of years after the return of peace, as shall be sufficient for the final redemption of the entire circulation. The details of the plan, the calculations on which it is based, the efficiency of its operation, and the vast advantages which would result from its success, are fully detailed in the report, and cannot be fairly presented in a form sufficiently condensed for this message. I doubt not it will receive from you that earnest and candid consideration which is merited by the importance of the subject. The recommendations of the report for the repeal of certain provisions of the tax laws which produce inequality in the burthen of taxation; for exempting all Government loans from taxation on capital, and from any adverse discrimination in taxation on income derived from them; for placing the taxation on banks on the same footing as the, taxation of other corporate bodies; for securing the payment into the treasury of that portion of the bank circulation which is liable to confiscation because held by alien enemies; for the conversion of the interest bearing treasury notes now outstanding into coupon bonds, and for the quarterly collection of taxation; all present practical questions for legislation, which, if wisely devised, will greatly improve the public credit, and alleviate the burthens now imposed by the extreme and unnecessary depreciation in the value of the currency. The returns of the Produce Loan Bureau are submitted with the report, and the information is conveyed that the Treasury Agency in the Trans-Mississippi Department has been fully organized, and is now in operation with promise of efficiency and success. The provisions heretofore made to some extent for increasing the compensation of public officers, civil and military, is found to be in some places inadequate to their support; perhaps not more so anywhere than in Richmond; and inquiry, with a view to appropriate remedy, is suggested to your consideration. Your notices is also called to the condition of certain officers of the treasury, who were omitted in the laws heretofore passed for the relief of other public officers, as mentioned in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury.
Department of War.The condition of the various branches of the military service is stated in the accompanying report of the Secretary of War. Among the suggestions made for legislative action with a view to add to the numbers and efficiency of the army, all of which will receive your consideration, there are some prominent topics which merit special notice. The exemption from military duty now accorded by law to all persons engaged in certain specified pursuits or professions is shown by experience to be unwise; nor is it believed to be defensible in theory. The defence of home, family and country is universally recognized as the paramount political duty of every member of society; and in a form of government like ours, where each citizen enjoys an equality of rights and privileges, nothing can be more invidious than an unequal distribution of duties and obligations. No pursuit nor position should relieve any one who is able to do active duty from enrollment in the army, unless his functions or services are more useful to the defence of his country in another sphere. But it is manifest that this cannot be the case with entire classes. All telegraph operators, workmen in mines, professors, teachers, engineers, editors and employees of newspapers, journeymen printers, shoemakers, tanners, blacksmiths, millers, physicians, and the numerous other classes mentioned in the laws, cannot, in the nature of things, be either equally necessary in their several professions, nor distributed throughout the country in such proportions that only the exact numbers required are found in each locality; nor can it be everywhere impossible to replace those within the consript age by men older and less capable of active field services. A discretion should be vested in the military authorities, so that a sufficient number of those essential to the public service might be detailed to continue the exercise of their pursuits or professions; but the exemption from service of the entire classes should be wholly abandoned. It affords great facility for abuses, offers the temptation, as well as the ready means, of escaping service by fraudulent devices, and is one of the principal obstructions to the efficient operation of the conscript laws. A general militia law is needful in the interest of the public defence. The Constitution, by vesting the power in Congress, imposes on it the duty of providing "for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Confederate States." The great diversity in the legislation of the several States on this subject, and the absence of any provision establishing an exact method for calling the militia into Confederate service, are sources of embarrassment which ought no longer to be suffered to impede defensive measures. The legislation in relation to the cavalry demands change. The policy of requiring the men to furnish their own horses has proven pernicious in many respects. It interferes with discipline, impairs efficiency, and is the cause of frequent and prolonged absence from appropriate duty. The subject is fully treated in the Secretary's report, with suggestions as to the proper measures for reforming that branch of the service. The recommendation, hitherto often made, is again renewed, that some measure be adopted for the re-organization and consolidation of companies and regiments when so far reduced in numbers as seriously to impair their efficiency. It is the more necessary that this should be done, as the absence of legislation on the subject has forced generals in the field to resort to various expedients for approximating the desired end. It is surely an evil that a commanding officer should be placed in a position which forces upon him the choice of allowing the efficiency of his command to be seriously impaired, or of attempting to supply by the exercise of doubtful authority the want of proper legal provision.--The regard for the sensibility of officers who have heretofore served with credit, and which is believed to be the controlling motive that has hitherto obstructed legislation on this subject, however honorable and proper, may be carried to a point which seriously injures the public good; and if this be the case, it can scarcely be questioned which of the two considerations should be deemed paramount. The Secretary's recommendations on the subject of facilitating the acquisition of the iron required for maintaining the efficiency of railroad communication on the important military lines are commended to your favor. The necessity for the operation, in full vigor, of such lines is too apparent to need comment. The question in dispute between the two Governments relative to the exchange of prisoners of war has been frequently presented in former messages and reports, and is fully treated by the Secretary. The solicitude of the Government for the relief of our captive fellow-citizens has known no abatement; but has, on the contrary, been still more deeply evoked by the additional sufferings to which they have been wantonly subjected, by deprivation of adequate food, clothing and fuel, which they were not even permitted to purchase from the prison sutlers. Finding that the enemy attempted to excuse their barbarous treatment by the unfounded allegation that it was retaliatory for like conduct on our part, an offer was made by us with a view of ending all pretext for such recriminations or pretended retaliation. The offer has been accepted, and each Government is, hereafter, to be allowed to provide necessary comforts to its own citizens held captive by the other. Active efforts are in progress for the immediate execution of this agreement, and it is hoped that but few days will elapse before we shall be relieved from the distressing thought that painful physical suffering is endured by so many of our follow-citizens whose fortitude in captivity illustrates the national character as fully as did their valor in actual conflict.
Employment of slaves.The employment of slaves for service with the army as teamsters or cooks, or in the way of work upon fortifications, or in the Government workshops, or in hospitals, and other similar duties, was authorized by the act of 17th February last, and provision was made for their impressment to a number not exceeding twenty thousand, if it should be found impracticable to obtain them by contract with the owners. The law contemplated the hiring only of the labor of these slaves, and imposed on the Government the liability to pay for the value of such as might be lost to the owners from casualties resulting from their employment in the service. This act has produced less result than was anticipated, and further provision is required to render it elicitors. But my present purpose is to invite your consideration to the propriety of a radical modification in the theory of the law. Viewed merely as property, and therefore as the subject of impressment, the service or labor of the slave has been frequently claimed for short periods in the construction of defensive works. The slave however, bears another relation to the State, that of a person. The law of last February contemplates only the relation of the slave to the master, and limits the impressment to a certain term of service. But for the purposes enumerated in the act, instruction in the manner of encamping, marching and parking trains is needful, so that, even in this limited employment, length of service adds greatly to the value of the negro's labor. Hazard is also encountered in all the positions to which the negroes can be assigned for service with the army, and the duties required of them demand loyalty and zeal. In this aspect, the relation of person predominates so far as to render it doubtful whether the private right of property can consistently and beneficially be continued, and it would seem proper to acquire for the public, and to pay therefore due compensation, rather than to impress his labor for short terms; and this the more especially as the effect of the present law would vest this entire property in all cases where the slave might be recaptured after compensation for his loss had been paid to the private owner.--Whenever the entire property in the service of a slave is thus acquired by the Government, the question is presented, by what tenure he should be held. Should he be retained. servitude, or should his emancipation be held out to him as a reward for faithful service, or should it be granted at once on the promise of such service? and if emancipated, what action should be taken to secure for the freedman the permission of the State from which he was drawn to reside within its limits after the close of his public service? The permission would doubtless be more readily accorded as a reward for past faithful service; and a double motive for serious discharge of duty would thus be offered to those employed by the Government, their freedom, and the gratification of the local attachment which is so marked a characteristic of the negro, and forms so powerful an incentive to his action. The policy of engaging to liberate the negro on his discharge after service faithfully rendered, seems to me preferable to that of granting immediate manumission, or that of retaining him in servitude. If this policy should recommend itself to the judgment of Congress, it is suggested that, in addition to the duties heretofore performed by the slave, he might be advantageously employed as pioneer and engineer laborer; and in that event, that the number should be augmented to forty thousand. Beyond this limit and these employments, it does not seem to me desirable, under existing circumstances, to go. A broad, moral distinction exists between the use of slaves as soldiers in the defence of their homes, and the incitement of the same persons to insurrection against their masters. The one is justifiable, if necessary; the other is iniquitous and unworthy of a civilized people; and such is the judgment of all writers on public law, as well as that expressed and insisted on by our enemies in all ware prior to that now waged against us. By none have the practices, of which they are now guilty, been denounced with greater severity than by themselves in the two wars with Great Britain in the last and in the present century; and in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, when enumeration was made of the wrongs which justified the revolt from Great Britain, the climax of atrocity was deemed to be reached only when the English monarch was denounced as having "excited domestic insurrections amongst us." The subject is to be viewed by us, therefore, solely in the light of policy and our social economy.--When so regarded, I must dissent from those who advise a general levy and arthing of the slaves for the duty of soldiers. Until our white population shall prove insufficient for the armies we require and can afford to keep in the field, to employ, as a soldier, the negro, who has merely been trained to labor, and as laborer, the white man, accustomed from his youth to the use of fire-arms, would scarcely be deemed wise or advantageous by any; and this is the question now before us. But should the alternative ever be presented of subjugation or of the employment of the slave a soldier, there seems no reason to doubt what should, then be our decision. Whether our view embraces what would, in so extreme a case, be the sum of misery entailed by the dominion of the enemy, or be restricted solely to the effect upon the welfare and happiness of the negro population themselves, the result would be the same. The appalling demoralization, suffering, disease and death which have been caused by partially substituting the invader's system of police for the kind relation previously subsisting between the master and slave, have been a sufficient demonstration that external interference with our institution of domestic slavery is productive of evil only. If the subject involved no other consideration than the mere right of property, the sacrifices heretofore made by our people have been such as to permit no doubt of their readiness to surrender every possession in order to secure their independence. But the social and political question, which is exclusively under the control of the several States, has a far wide and more enduring importance than that of pecuniary interest. In its manifold phases, it embraces the stability of our republican institutions, resting on the actual political equality of all its citizens, and includes the fulfillment of the task which has been so happily begun — that of Christianizing and improving the condition of the Africans who have, by the will of Providence, been placed in our charge. Comparing the results of our own experience with those of the experiments of others who have borne similar relation to the African race, the people of the several States of the Confederacy have abundant reason to be satisfied with the past, and to use the greatest circumspection in determining their course. There considerations, however, are rather applicable to the improbable contingency of our need of resorting to this element of resistance than to our present condition. If the recommendation, above made, for the training of forty thousand negroes for the service indicated shall meet your approval, it is certain that even this limited number, by their preparatory training in intermediate duties, would form a more valuable reserve forces in case of urgency than three-fold their number suddenly called from field labor; while a fresh levy could, to a certain extent, supply their places in the special service for which they are now employed.
Other departments.The regular annual reports of the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Postmaster-General, are appended, and give ample information relative to the condition of the respective departments. They contain suggestions for legislative provisions required to remedy such defects in the existing laws as have been disclosed by experience, but none of so general or important a character as to require that I should do more than recommend them to your favorable consideration.
Negotiations for peace.The disposition of this Government for a peaceful solution of the issues which the enemy has referred to the arbitrament of arms has been too often manifested, and is too well known, to need new assurances. But while it is flue that individuals and parties in the United States have indicated a desire to substitute reason for force, and by negotiation to stop the further sacrifice of human life and to arrest the calamities which now afflict both countries, the authorities who control the Government of our enemies have too often and too clearly expressed their resolution to make no peace except on terms of our unconditional submission and degradation, to leave us any hope of the cessation of hostilities until the delusion of their ability to conquer us is dispelled. Among those who are already disposed for peace, many are actuated by principle and by disapproval and abhorrence of the iniquitous warfare that their Government is waging, while others and moved by the conviction that it is no longer to the interest of the United States to continue a struggle in which success is unattainable. Whenever this fast growing conviction shall have taken firm root in the minds of a majority of the Northern people, there will be produced that willingness to negotiate for peace which is now confined to our side. Peace is manifestly impossible unless desired by both parties to this war, and the disposition for it among our enemies will be best and most certainly evoked by the demonstration on our part of ability and unshaken determination to defend our rights, and to hold no earthly price too dear for their purchase. Whenever there shall be on the part of our enemies a desire for peace, there will be no difficulty in finding means by which negotiation can be opened; but it is obvious that no agency can be called into action until this desire shall be mutual. When that contingency shall happen, the Government, to which is confided the treaty-making power, can be at no loss for means adapted to accomplish so desirable an end. In the hope that the day will soon be reached when, under Divine favor, these States may be allowed to enter on their former peaceful pursuits, and to develop the abundant natural resources with which they are blessed, let us then resolutely continue to devote our united and unimpaired energies to the defence of our homes, our lives and our liberties. This is the true path to peace. Let us tread it with confidence in the assured result.
On motion of Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, the President's messages was laid on the table and ordered to printed. The accompanying documents were referred to the appropriate committees. The President pro tem presented a communication from Governor Smith, of Virginia, enclosing the proceedings of the Governors of several of the States of the Confederacy, which was laid on the table and ordered to be printed. On motion of Mr. Orr, the Senate adjourned.