The Coercive policy.
--To show still further the extent of the policy adopted by the Federal Administration
, we copy the following circular of instruction to Collectors and other officers of the customs on the Northern
and Northwestern waters of the United States
On the 19th day of April, 1861, the President
of the United States
, by proclamation, declared the ports of South Carolina
under blockade, and on the 27th of the same month, by another proclamation, declared the ports of Virginia
and North Carolina
also under blockade, since which proclamation this Department has received reliable information, that attempts are frequently made to furnish arms, munitions of war, provisions and other supplies to persons and parties in those States in open insurrection against the constitutional authorities of the Union
It becomes my duty, therefore, to instruct you to cause a careful examination to be made of the manifests of all steam or other vessels departing from your port with cargoes whose ultimate destination you have satisfactory reason to believe is for any port or place under the control of such insurrectionary parties, and to compare the same with the cargo on board, and if any such manifests be found to embrace any articles of the description before mentioned, or any such articles be found to constitute part of the cargo, you will take all necessary and proper means to prevent the departure of the vessel, and to detain the same in your custody until all such articles shall be removed therefrom, and for further proceedings according to law. You will also make a careful examination of all flatboats and other water craft without manifests, and of railroad cars, and other vehicles, arriving at or leaving your port, laden with merchandize, the ultimate destination of which you have good reason to believe is for any port or place under insurrectionary control; and if arms, munitions of war, provisions or other supplies are found having such destination, you will seize and detain the same to await the proper legal proceedings for confiscation or forfeiture.
In carrying out these instructions, you will bear in mind that all persons or parties in armed insurrection against the Union
, however such persons or parties may be organized or named, are engaged in levying war against the United States
; and that all persons furnishing to such insurgents arms, munitions of war, provisions, or other supplies, are giving them aid and comfort, and so guilty of treason within the terms of the third section of the third article of the Constitution
And you will, therefore, use your utmost vigilance, and endeavor to prevent the prohibited shipments, and to detect and bring to punishment all who are in any way concerned in furnishing to such insurgents any of the articles above described.
You will, however, on the other hand, be careful not to interrupt vexatiously, or beyond necessity, by unwarranted or protracted detentions and examinations, the regular and lawful commerce of your port.
You will report forthwith whether any, and if any, what additional measures may be necessary in your judgment to carry into full effect the foregoing resolutions, and you will report to this Department from time to time your action under these instructions.