The sequestration law.
Timid politicians contend that a law of confiscation, passed by the Confederate Congress, would disgrace our young Republic in the eyes of the world.
They insist that we must be very careful what we do, lest we commit some act displeasing to the Yankees
They would shape the whole conduct of the war and policy of the Government
as if we were on trial for good behavior before mankind at large, and before the Yankee
public in particular.
We must remain passively defensive in every formand manner; we must oppose the mere vitinertia
of our Government and army to the assaults of the enemy; we must carefully avoid injuring the Yankees
too much, lest they get mad and become too exasperated to make peace.
The whole thought of this non-combatant party, who are the censors of our public councils, is ‘"how not to do"’ anything effective and decisive; how to fight the United States
without damaging their interests or wounding their pride; how to keep open the chance of peace and reconciliation, while continuing the pretense of war. To carry out their principles, if engaged in a personal collision, they would forbear to strike their adversary first, and would always wait till he delivered his blow; they would then return it, and confine themselves to a strict retort of his licks.
They would note exactly how often, and when, and how hard, they had been struck, and reply, tit for tat, in the same identical measure.
It is not allowable, according to their view, to injure or weaken the enemy except in some mode in which he has already injured and weakened us. If the enemy pulls our nose, then, and not till then, we may resent his insult; but we must only do it by pulling his nose in return.
If he knocks us down, we may then legally, and with the approbation of the civilized world, knock him down too, if we be not disabled from doing so. But, after he had twitched our nose, or spit in our face, it would be an unheard of enormity, if we should let fly at him with the left, a la Heenan
, and floor him.
, thus has subjugated for mere empire a hundred millions of people; Russia
, and Prussia
, who conquered and partitioned Poland
, who utterly destroyed two civilized nations; and France
, who made war against the world — would say we had done wrong if we struck our enemy except in retort; and even Lincoln
would denounce us as savages.
Because the Congress of the United States has as yet passed no general bill of confiscation, the refore, it is insisted by this class of legislative warriors, that we should pass none either; even though, as is the case, the Northern Executive
and army have been engaged for more than a year in the work of actual confiscation.
That, however, is denied to be legislative confiscation, and therefore, it is maintained, we must not reply with legislative confiscation.
And this is their argument when the enemy is invading us with an army of six hundred thousand men and a navy of three hundred ships!
All history shows the error of such a course on the part of a Government engaged in war. From the time that Scipio
carried the war into Africa
, aggressive measures have been shown to be the best for defence.
If the Confederate
flag were flying upon the City Hall of New York, our chance to make a good and honorable peace would be much better than if the flag of the United States
were waving over the Capitol
know that under the sequestration law, the Confederate States
are in fact taking care of and preserving their property; and they think they will come South and get back their own, with some convenient additions taken from us. Therefore, Northerners who have property here do not care for the war; but hope that what they already own, will only be a nucleus for the gathering of more.
But let them know that they shall neither have it nor its value, and they will soon turn their eyes in another direction and be willing to abandon the idea of subjugating the South
If any of our statesmen, or if our Congress, should want reasons to justify the passage of a general bill of confiscation; they are easily found in the present condition of the South
and past action of the North
Although we of the Confederate States
know that we have a de facto
Government, and have full faith in our ability to sustain ourselves, yet that is not our status abroad.
We have as yet been recognized as a sovereign and independent power by no one nation of the earth.
We are ten millions of people, and territory enough for a population of a hundred millions; and, while little Italian
and German principalities not as big as the smallest of our States have been acknowledged, we have not been admitted into the circle of Governments.
We need not and do not complain of this; but it only shows the greater necessity that is upon us of relying upon ourselves and of weakening our adversary by every means in our power.
Nothing so discredits us abroad as this constant and timid reference of all that we do to the opinions of mankind.
It betokens a dependence upon others and a want of confidence in our own cause, strength, and purposes, that is as hurtful to our reputation as enervating to our own power.
We must manifest some spirit of independence if we desire or expect recognition by the nations.
Those who think it wrong to take and confiscate the property of our invaders are unduly sensitive to the hard measures of war, and righteous overmuch.
They are Quakers in opinion, and cowards in policy.
They proceed upon the idea that war justifies no extremities not justifiable in peace.
contracts and private rights, they say, are sacred, and to be respected by all Governments; but their argument rates property higher than life.
It is no less the object of war to take property than life; and warfare would be even greatly refined by converting it into a mere effort between the belligerents to damage each other in property with a scrupulous avoidance of blood shed and slaughter.
Nothing could be dearer to mankind than life and freedom of person.
To take either must certainly be considered a more violent and unjustifiable measure than to take property.
Yet it is commendable to kill as many of our enemy as we can. A domestic spy is the most obnoxious of all human beings; yet they are absolutely necessary in war. Those who see nothing wrong in these things might agree, without many scruples of conscience, to a measure of confiscation.
This is no mere ordinary war in which we are engaged, arising, as so many wars do, out of a purelific, and to be settled, after an exchange of shots, by an apology on one side, accepted on the other.
But we are in the condition of a backwoods settler, far from assistance, defending desperately his cabin, his life, and his family, against a band of savages, who will certainly burn, butcher, and scalp, unless beaten off. If, by loading with spelter or bathing his bullets in poison, he could strike dismay into the hearts of the foe, he would
hardly stop to consider what the enlightened nations of the earth would think of the means he employs to save his household from dishonor and butchery.
He should neglect no means within his reach to defend himself or weaken his assailants, in the sublimated idea that somebody across the big waters might think he had done wrong, and visit his conduct with the obloquy that attaches to truculent actions.
Privateering is condemned by the united voice of Europe
It has been deliberately and by agreement abandoned and held as piracy.
Yet the Confederate States
adhere to the contraband measure in the face of the clamor and censure of the world; and they do it upon the plea of necessity, a plea which the world cordially acknowledges in their favor.
Our privateers, by authority of our Government, capture the ships of the enemy and burn them in, the sight of foreign ports.
Surely a Government that does not cower under the threat of obloquy in this respect, and thus braves the opinion of the world, need not be so delicate in regard to the much milder and less obnoxious measure of confiscation.
To bolt a former measure and balk at the latter, is to practice the hypocrisy of the Pharisee straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.