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[for the Richmond Dispatch.]We propose briefly to discuss the policy of the law, without reference to its legality or constitutionality, and to consider its operation on friends and not on our Northern enemies. The North has little claim upon our indulgence. Indeed, there lies the trouble. Men who desire to retaliate upon the North, forget to look at the home effects of retaliatory legislation. We propose to show that the law is a sword with two edges, and the Southern edge, perhaps, the sharper and more efficacious of the two. The first and great characteristic of the law, its very essence and gist, is to change a man's creditors. The creditor with whom he contracted is no longer the creditor with whom he must settle. War, with its many disabilities and disadvantages, brought to debtors this one relief — viz: exemption from suit by alien enemies. By the act in question this relief is taken away, and the right to sue, which in the old creditor was in a beyance, is conferred on a new substitute creditor — the government. This is the very gist, and principle, and bottom of the law. The loss of indulgence during the war — a period of peculiar exigency, when time may make all the difference between solvency and insolvency — underlies the whole of it. Nor is this the only change in the legal status of the creditor.--The government — the new creditor — not only may sue, but must sue. It is a hard creditor. Its grasp, like that of machinery, is iron, inhuman. It cannot indulge, cannot compromise. It has no future customer to secure, nor reason for forbearance. A second great hardship is in the change of forum, or place in which suit is to be brought. Suits and garnishments under the sequestration law are answered in the Confederate Courts — not in the defendants' own county. This is no trifling hardship. To conduct a litigation at a distance is exceedingly troublesome and expensive. The Constitution of Georgia and of some other States, and the legislation, perhaps, of most or all of the States, provides for administering justice in the county of one's residence. Here, usually, are his witnesses; here his business is not neglected; here he has no expense of travelling back and forth; here are the lawyers who attend to his business and possess his confidence. There are but one or two Confederate Courts in a State. In these all litigation meets — from North, South, East, and West, city or county. Merchants from other cities, villages, and the county, are all called to answer here, and, if there be litigation, to select new counsel, and provide for business at home during their own absence. In the new forum judgment is rendered at the first term. At the close of the war the debtor must meet executions instead of notes. The change of forum gives priority to the Government (representing the foreign creditor) over the domestic creditor suing in the State Courts. Thus, if the law be strictly administered, a virtual lien is given to the foreign at the expense of the domestic creditor. While this is technically and theoretically true, the probability is that there will not practically be much left over after payment of sequestration expenses, wastage, &c. A third obnoxious feature is the compulsory exposure of the debtor's affairs. This act not only exposes the condition of his property, but (the surest means of precipitating others) brings the first suit. A garnishment is at best the most officious proceeding known to the law. It takes hold of those who have violated no law — nor made themselves amenable to process. Men usually have some choice of creditors, and frequently incur liabilities to one creditor which they would have avoided with another. The present law, more officious than an ordinary garnishment, asks not merely for the debts due one creditor, but for all due one class of creditors — who, in the case of merchants are often almost their sole creditors. It does not, as an ordinary garnishment, specify the creditor's name, but fishes the debtor's conscience to ascertain everything at once — name, debts, dates, and all. The information thus obtained in regard to all, is concentrated at head-quarters in each State. Nay, the law inquires not only as to one's own debts, but as to one's knowledge of his neighbors, and makes each citizen as officious as itself. These proceedings tend to embarrass and often ruin men who would otherwise be able to work out of their difficulties. The storm of war needs no such aggravations as these. The law, in the fourth place, is retro-action. Many payments made before its passage are regarded as null. Settlements then made are disturbed and unmade. Payments to original creditors are required to be made over to the Government. These are terrible times in which to pay debts twice. It may be said the first payment should not have been made. We will not discuss the law point. Whether the state of war only suspended the creditor's right of suit, leaving the right of payment without suit at the option of the debtor, or whether the contrary doctrine is true. But should not notice to the debtor not to pay have been ample, actual and honest — given in a distinct and authentic form ? The state of war was not of itself such notice. If this were indeed an incident of such a state — many were utterly and bonafide ignorant of the fact — more than ordinary precantions were necessary between two peoples so recently constituting one people, into numerous relations and varied intercourse — Although ignorance of the law be no valid excuse in court, yet the law should never be made a trap, but be well promulgated. And in the policy of government, legal fictions should not be confounded with actual fact. The intercourse between the two sections of what had recently been one country could not be so instantly and completely sundered as that between nations always separate.-- Our own Government for months recognized this difficulty, by allowing the transportation of the mails, by the settlement of postmasters and contractors with the old Government, and by numerous purchases made by itself. Telegrams still passed between the two sections, railroad trains passed over the line. The line itself was indefinite, and we hoped (and still hope) might reach higher, Co-partnerships — lawful in their inception — existed between citizens who, after the separation, were citizens of different countries. Settlements were almost unavoidable necessities. The hard cases beyond measure which have thus arisen are numerous. Upon this feature of the law others have dwelt, and we pass it by, for to suggest it is to argue it. There is great indefiniteness of information as to the extent of our wrongs. We do not know what proportion the wrong and remedy may bear to each other. It may turn out that five or ten times as much has been seized (to the great detriment of Southern men) as was necessary to indemnify losses by confiscation. Some provision would seem advisable to gauge the matter more thoroughly, and apportion the remedy to the evil.--Suppose, for example, that Southern sufferers by the confiscation act were authorized to proceed directly on their own behalf, and the course of procedure guided, by distinct reference to the least hardship upon other Southern citizens. There is much room for discrimination. In illustration of this, consider the relative position of trustees or corporations who hold the property in kind of Northern men — as compared with men who simply own money at the North. A trustee holding ten negroes would be relieved of liability by turning over to the receiver the ten negroes, or a railroad or bank president, in whose company ten shares of stock were held, need but turn over the ten shares; but the debtor, whose debt twelve or fifteen months ago would have been paid by the sale of ten negroes or ten shares, would now have to sell fifteen or twenty. Ruinous sacrifices would characterize the one class, while the other is unaffected by the times. Nor can the debtor class provide security by mortgaging the same amount of property as formerly. The foregoing is one illustration out of many of the necessity of greater discrimination in the law. We deprecate the great fund for corruption furnished by this law in our own country. In its indefinite grasp, the expense, waste, corruption, and mismanagement, must be immense. The object of the law is to provide first, indemnity to our own citizens, and then, after payment of expenses, to pay over the balance, at the close of the war, to the original creditors. The fund will, perhaps, be as well managed here as it would be in any other country; but the carcase is immense, and the eagles will be gathered together. The effects, both moral and political, must be extremely pernicious. Corruption will creep in as into a full treasury very imperfectly guarded. Change the whole system of management of any large interest, and loss ensues. The public is at best a wretched administrator of property. Here is a mass of scattered property of every description, with public sympathy hostile to the ultimate beneficiaries. What else can be expected than that a set of vampires will be engendered, whose occupation will be gone, unless, when this carcase has been exhausted, they can introduce corruption into the permanent administration of the Government. We confuse this is to us the most alarming future of this dangerous system. In the year 1860, the North and South were one country, hot two countries at peace, but one country. Our intercourse was constant and prudigious. Our commerce was almost exclusively with the Northern Bay bought by of them. The native or our Their policy forced us to separate from them. Our numberous creditors there, in accordance with the laws of war, forfeited during its continuance, the right to sue. The entire foreign debt of the country was, therefore, in abeyance. The Government now steps in, assuming the place of the foreign creditor, with this most important and intensely practical distinction, that whereas the Northern creditor could not sue, the new creditor must sue. What a new phase this puts upon affairs ! What a mass of settlements, suits, and litigation ! And what must be the effect upon our debtor class of precipitating upon the country this huge mass of litigation ? Collections instead of being suspended, are made closer than usual. A new element of distress is imposed upon an already burdened society, not stopping with debtors to the North only, for indulgence denied to one set of debtors is indulgence denied to others; enforced payment from one is enforced payment from many. This is a drastic, stringent physic to to purge the remotest ramifications of the body politic. This ball, started by government, will crush through from top to bottom of our social structure. The process is this: Suit by goverment, representing with enlarged powers the foreign creditor; suit by domestic creditor, lest he be postponed; suit by merchant, that he may be ready to meet executions with executions — and these suits involving nearly all the indebtedness of the country, since our commerce was with the North, and debts arise mainly by commerce. In a word, the law precipitates the country into a sea of litigation. It is a violent stoppage of the credit system of the country, suddenly, in time of war. These are plain and common-sense views, which any man of business will appreciate. Let any one in debt bring the matter home to himself. Suppose his creditor changed; anticipated indulgence withdrawn; himself compelled in hard times to disclose the amount of his indebtedness; his new creditor bound to sue; his answer to be given away from home; and he obliged in self-defence to sue others, that he may meet execution with execution, and he will thus see the operation of the law in a particular instance. Let him suppose this state of things not confined to himself or his own locality, but made general, and he may acquire some faint conception of the general result, and of the sacrifices involved in a market glutted with property and void of money. The force of these objections seem to have been appreciated, since the passage of the act, in high places. So soon as the machinery was put into practical operation, it was felt to be too stringent. The first instructions issued as to the persons to whom interrogtories were to be addressed did not include merchants. This was a significant commentary on the felt hardships of the law. Not to dwell tediousty: England has set the world a good example. England pays her debts to friend and foe, in peace and war.--What is the consequences ? An untarnished, lustrous credit, which enables her to borrow cheaper than any other power. What would she gain by refusal ? A few dividends would be suspended — a mere nominal gain — in reality, a mere douceur to spite and national resentment. But, her gains by payment are large and substantial. She borrows at 3 per cent. instead of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10. The whole difference lies in the certainly of payment. It grows not out of patriotism, but out of confidence. She has established a character that is worth upon her national debt, say, thirty millions of dollars or more annually, upon each billion of her debt. A glorious tribute to her good faith, and practical proof that honesty is policy. In the prosecution of this war we cannot follow the North into the crooked paths she is treading. We cannot consent to abandon all obligation and all principle. We cannot trample upon the bonds of civilization and humanity, the laws of God, of men, and of nations, Self-respect and the respect of mankind, and not the example of the North, must be our guide. In our straitest emergency — in the extremest exigency of a war for existence, we hope and expect to maintain our independence against an unprincipled and dishonorable foe by honorable means alone. We cannot and will not be seduced into those devious ways into which our enemies, whithout even the plea of extremity, have already turned their footsteps. Our chief temptation will arise from the spirit of retaliation — from a sense of just indignation at their outrages upon law and propriety. But let us bide our time, do our duty, and leave vengeance to Him to whom it belongs, and who will in due time repay. We have thus far been prospered. Their force has been repelled by hard fighting — their craft outwitted by plain, straight-forward honesty. Thus still must we gain the respect of mankind and thus retain our own. The North, with unexampled prodigality, has wasted her patrimony of character, treasure, and respectability. Her heritage of liberty, of constitutional rights, and well checked and balanced machinery of government, has been already squandered. But we, for our part, have others to deal with as well as the North. We two do not constitute the sum total of humanity. Before God and man, and our own conscience, we would stand clear. We have a character to maintain — a future before us — historical tests to abide. We act not for the present moment only, nor in the presence only of our foes, but for all time and in the presence of God and mankind. National credit is a sensitive and delicate thing, like individual credit. It is maintained by payment--absolute, unconditional, determined, reliable payment, in easy times and in hard times alike. Individual and national faith and character act and re-act powerfully upon each other. Pride of country is almost essential to a high-toned character. The knowledge that the national fame is degraded, degrades the whole people. Bitter fruits has the North to reap of last year's sowing. She seems to have forgotten the future. Private citizens, to maintain unblemished credit, must be content to endure hardships, make sacrifices, live hard, let themselves suffer rather than others with whom they have made engagements. It is a character hard to build up, easy to forfeit, invaluable in possession. Nations, in like manner, must pay their debts at all hazards, impose taxes ample and prompt to meet their obligations, and let it be seen that the nation can afford anything rather than dishonor and discredit. Nobly has our infant Republic opened her career. Let the national escutcheon never contract stain or blemish. Let none of her sons ever have cause to blush for her tarnished honor. A noble nation will then be the home of noble men and the work we are now doing in blood and tears will stand Sentinel.
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