Message of Jefferson Davis: delivered at Richmond July 20.
Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederate States of America:--my message addressed to you at the commencement of the last session contained such full information of the state of the Confederacy as to render it unnecessary that I should now do more than call your attention to such important facts as have occurred during the recess, and the matters connected with the public defence. I have again to congratulate you on the accession of new members to our Confederation of free and equally sovereign States. Our loved and honored brethren of North Carolina and Tennessee have consummated the action foreseen and provided for at your last session, and I have had the gratification of announcing, by proclamation, in conformity with law, that these States were admitted into the Confederacy. The people of Virginia, also, by a majority previously unknown in our history, have ratified the action of her Convention uniting her fortunes with ours. The States of Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia have likewise adopted the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States, and no doubt is entertained of its adoption by Tennessee, at the election to be held early in next month. I deemed it advisable to direct the removal of the several executive departments, with their archives, to this city, to which you have removed the seat of Government. Immediately after your adjournment, the aggressive movements of the enemy required prompt, energetic action. The accumulation of his forces on the Potomac sufficiently demonstrated that his efforts were to be directed against Virginia, and from no point could necessary measures for her defence and protection be so effectively decided, as from her own capital. The rapid progress of events, for the last few weeks, has fully sufficed to lift the veil, behind which the true policy and purposes of the Government of the United States had been previously concealed. Their odious features now stand fully revealed. The message of their President, and the action of their Congress during the present month, confess their intention of the subjugation of these States, by a war, by which it is impossible to attain the proposed result, while its dire calamities, not to be avoided by us, will fall with double severity on themselves. Commencing in March last, with the affectation of ignoring the secession of seven States, which first organized this Government; persevering in April in the idle and absurd assumption of the existence of a riot, which was to be dispersed by a posse comitatus; continuing in successive months the false representation that these States intended an offensive war, in spite of conclusive evidence to the contrary, furnished as well by official action as by the very basis on which this Government is constituted, the President of the United States and his advisers succeeded in deceiving the people of these States into the belief that the purpose of this Government was not peace at home, but conquest abroad; not defence of its own liberties, but subversion of those of the people of the United States. The series of manoeuvres by which this impression was created; the art with which they were devised, and the perfidy with which they were executed, were already known to you, but you could scarcely have supposed that they would be openly avowed, and their success made the subject of boast and self-laudation in an executive message. Fortunately for truth and history, however, the President of the United States details, with minuteness, the attempt to reinforce Fort Pickens, in violation of an armistice of which he confessed to have been informed, but only by rumors, too vague and uncertain to fix the attention of the hostile expedition despatched to supply Fort Sumter, admitted to have been undertaken with the knowledge that its success was impossible. The sending of a notice to the Governor of South Carolina of his intention to use force to accomplish his object, and then quoting from his inaugural address the assurance that “there could be no conflict unless these States were the aggressors,” he proceeds to declare his conduct, as just related by himself, was the performance of a promise, so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it; and in defiance of his own statement that he gave notice of the approach of a hostile fleet, he charges these States with becoming the assailants of the United States, without a gun in sight, or in expectancy, to return their fire, save only a few in the fort. He is, indeed, fully justified in saying that the case is so free from the power of ingenious sophistry that the world will not be able to misunderstand it. Under cover of this unfounded pretence, that the Confederate States are the assailants, that high functionary, after expressing his concern that some foreign nations had so shaped their action as if they supposed the early destruction of the national Union probable, abandons all further disguise, and proposes to make this contest a short and decisive one, by placing at the control of the Government for the work at least four hundred thousand men, and four hundred millions of dollars. The Congress, concurring in the doubt thus intimated as to the sufficiency of the force demanded, has increased it to half a million of men. These enormous preparations in men and money, for the conduct of the war, on a scale more grand than any which the new world ever witnessed, is a distinct avowal, in the eyes of civilized man, that the United States are engaged in a conflict with a great and powerful nation. They are at last compelled to abandon the pretence of being engaged in dispersing rioters and suppressing insurrections, and are driven to the acknowledgment that the ancient