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[607] our liberties to be more precious than all other earthly possessions, is to combine and apply every available element of power for their defence and preservation.

On the subject of the exchange of prisoners, I greatly regret to be unable to give you satisfactory information. The Government of the United States, while persisting in failure to execute the terms of the cartel, make occasional deliveries of prisoners, and then suspend action without apparent cause. I confess my inability to comprehend their policy or purpose. The prisoners held by us, in spite of human care, are perishing from the inevitable effects of imprisonment and the home-sickness produced by the hopelessness of release from confinement. The spectacle of their suffering augments our longing desire to relieve from similar trials our own brave men, who have spent so many weary months in a cruel and useless imprisonment, endured with heroic constancy. The delivery, after a suspension of some weeks, has just been resumed by the enemy; but as they give no assurance of intent to carry out the cartel, an interruption of the exchange may recur at any moment.

The reports of the departments, herewith submitted, are referred to for full information in relation to the matters appertaining to each. There are two of them on which I deem it necessary to make special remark.

The report of the Secretary of the Treasury states facts justifying the conclusion that the law passed at the last session for the purpose of withdrawing from circulation the large excess of Treasury notes heretofore issued, has had the desired effect, and that by the first of July the amount in circulation will have been reduced to a sum not exceeding two hundred and thirty million dollars. It is believed to be of primary importance that no further issue of notes should take place, and that the use of the credit of the government should be restricted to the two other modes provided by Congress, namely, the sale of bonds and the issue of certificates bearing interest, for the price of supplies purchased within our limits. The law, as it now stands, authorizes the issue by the Treasury of new notes to the extent of two thirds of the amount received under its provisions. The estimate of the amount funded under this law is shown to be three hundred million dollars, and if two thirds of this sum be reissued, we shall have an addition of two hundred million dollars to our circulation, believed to already ample for the business of the country. The addition of this large sum to the volume of the currency would be attended by disastrous effects, and would produce the speedy recurrence of the evils from which the funding law has rescued the country. If our arms are crowned with the success which we have so much reason to hope, we may well expect that this war cannot be prolonged beyond the current year, and nothing would so much retard the beneficent influence of peace on all the interests of our country, as the existence of a great mass of currency not redeemable in coin. With our vast resources, the circulation, if restricted to its present volume, would be easily manageable, and by gradual absorption in payment of public dues would give place to the precious metals, the only basis of a currency adapted to commerce with foreign countries. In our present circumstances I know of no mode of providing for the public wants which would entail sacrifices so great as a fresh issue of Treasury notes, and I trust that you will concur in the propriety of absolutely forbidding any increase of those now in circulation

Officers have been appointed and despatched to the trans-Mississippi States, and the necessary measures taken for the execution of the laws, enacted to obviate delays in administering the treasury and other executive departments in those States; but sufficient time has not elapsed to ascertain the results.

In relation to the most important of all subjects at the present time — the efficiency of our armies in the field — it is gratifying to assure you that the discipline and instruction of the troops have kept pace with the improvement in material and equipment. We have reason to congratulate ourselves on the results of the legislation on this subject, and on the increased administrative energy in the different bureaux of the War Department, and may not unreasonably indulge anticipations of commensurate success in the ensuing campaign.

The organization of reserves is in progress, and it is hoped they will be valuable in affording local protection without requiring details and detachments from active forces.

Among the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary of War, your attention is specially inyited to those on which legislation is suggested on the following subjects, namely:

The tenure of office of the general officers in the provisional army, and a proper discrimination in the compensation of the different grades.

The provision required in aid of invalid officers who have resigned in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted while in the service.

The amendment of the law which deprives officers in the field of the privilege of purchasing rations, and thus adds to their embarrassment, instead of conferring the benefit intended.

The organization of the general staff of the army, in relation to which a special message will shortly be addressed to you, containing the reasons which compelled me to withhold my approval of a bill passed by your predecessors at too late a period of the session to allow time for returning it for their reconsideration.

The necessity for an increase in the allowance now made for the transportation of officers travelling under orders.

The mode of providing officers for the execution of the conscript laws.

The means of securing greater despatch and more regular administration of justice in examining and disposing of the records of cases reported from the courts-martial and military courts in the army.

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