Friday, April 23, 2010


We suppose the Administration has by this time abandoned the ideas which formed the policy of our philosophical Secretary of State, in the early part of the war, that the rebellion would fall to pieces in sixty days – renewed at maturity, as bills often have to be in time of war. We suppose also that it has ceased to find Gen. McClellan’s promises of immediate and decisive movements available as collateral in Wall streets for loans. The Government must by this time see the necessity for putting its finances on some basis that will stand a protracted contest. Even if the war shall come to an end at the limit of another of Mr. Seward’s sixty day predictions, it is neither creditable to the Government nor safe to be shinning on financial shifts that must break down in a limited time.

We refrain from particularizing the financial situation of the Government, but every thinking man knows that its system so far is merely a temporizing one, which constantly increases the difficulty, and which must break down in a limited time. The expense of this war could not be born by the wealthiest nation in the world for any long time. The Confederate leaders know our financial problem as well as we do. They realize it more than we. It is the basis of their hopes of success, and will govern their tactics, if they are defeated in the great battles now pending. They calculate that even a guerilla warfare will compel us to keep up our immense expenditure, and that in a limited time it will break down our finances.

Thus our defective financial system and immense expenditure encourage them to hold out. It is impossible for us to continue the war unless it is made to contribute to its own expenses. Our President, and his philosophical Secretary of State and Congress, may as well look that fact in the face. We have no doubt that the Secretary of the Treasury fully realizes it already. It is an absolute necessity to the preservation of Government. That it is sufficient. We might particularize the financial situation of the Government to prove this, but we forbear out of regard to the public service. If any one in the Administration or in Congress is not aware of it, he had better be in some employment suited to his capacity.

But besides the absolute necessity, what could be more just than that rebels should pay the cost of subduing the rebellion? What more unjust than that the burden should be saddled upon loyal men and future generations? And how can a nation which loads itself with debt to the extent of its capacity, from its internal dissensions, hope to sustain itself in a war with a great foreign power, or to make its power respected by other nations? And what security can the public creditors have for the payment of this debt when the representatives of these rebel States come back into Congress to vote annually upon appropriations to pay the interest on the cost of subjecting them, while their own Confederate debt is disowned? This is only an additional reason for making rebellion pay as it goes the cost of putting it down.

At present the property of every known loyal man in the South, is confiscated to the rebel war fund, while the property of every rebel is sacred to our armies. Thus the rebellion draws more support from the loyal men of the south, than from the rebels. With this means their financial system may outlast ours. The result is that our war expenses are paid entirely and those of the rebels in great part, by the loyal men. A rigid inquisition has been enforced to find out and confiscate all property owned in, and every debt due to, the North. Every item that could be discovered was seized for the confederate treasury, and thousands of the chivalrous traders who went for Secession because it would wipe out their debts to the north, have been forced to pay them into the rebel war fund.

It will be necessary that Congress should accompany its tax bill with a comprehensive confiscation bill, that will reduce the cost of supporting our armies in the enemy’s country, and produce a fund to pay off the public debt. Other wise the people may begin to enquire if the rebellion is not cheaper than loyalty. But the question of confiscation in Congress runs against slavery at the outset, and so far that has blocked the way. There is eminent propriety in confiscating the property which, if not the who cause, is the means of creating and sustaining the rebellion; but slavery also furnished a means by which all Boarder Slave State Representatives and all Democrats resist any measure of confiscation, and so sacred is slavery in the Northern mind, that it has great effect in protecting other rebel property from just retribution.

There are, besides, peculiar difficulties involved in the confiscation of slaves. What shall be done with them? Some of the very representatives who talk of confiscating them, declare also that their states will not have them. The Government cannot sell them, nor transfer them to “loyal men,” as some of our patriotic Southern “Union men” propose. That would be sowing the seeds of rebellion broadcast among the loyal. Colonization is a very comfortable doctrine, but at best, even if the Government should make extraordinary exertions, it would only amount to the transportation of a few thousand or hundred thousand of the most enterprising of them to a foreign country, leaving the evil in its full magnitude here.

The negro’s fate has fixed him here, and here he will remain to work it out. They who make colonization a condition of emancipation might as well drop both ideas. When it comes to general emancipation in the South by military power or any other power, it must be by a power that will protect the negroes in the South. They are the foundation of its wealth, as laborers are everywhere. There is no country that could have such an exodus of its laboring population without ruin. Confiscation of slaves at once raises the question how they shall be disposed of, and we do not find any yet who are able to answer it an any way that will meet a general case.

We propose that the confiscation measure be relieved of this embarrassment, by leaving out of it the slaves. This may be reasonably done, on the ground that the confiscation of slaves will not help our treasury. This will bring the question of proper penalties on rebel property before our Border State Union men, and our Democratic brethren, divested of this danger to Slavery, which is so much more fearful to them than the danger to the nation, or than all the sufferings and sacrifices of the people. Let them be tried squarely on the question of confiscation of other property. Then the confiscation of the slaves of rebels can be tried in a separate measure, when such a measure is thought expedient.

We are aware that it is galling to the people who have sent their sons and brothers to fight this rebellion, that it should have the aid of black men, who would be our best friends. The feeling of the people of the north has also been grossly outraged that Northern soldiers should be used as a slave police in the South for half and whole traitors. But the Commander-in-Chief can stop the later practice if he chooses; and as to the other, the army could not receive without embarrassment any more of negroes that it could make useful to it. Should its marches be the dispensation of liberty to the bondmen, it might have the hole colored population of the south with it. The African foundation would drop from the kingdom of Cotton, and the bottom from the rebellion; but the same question would arise: What shall be done with the negro?

Unquestionably the army has the right to avail itself of the aid of any person in the enemy’s country, and the commander who does not would be responsible for the sacrifice of his army, if defeat resulted from the neglect of such aid. This is a right, according to the rules of war; but there is an act of Congress confiscating all slaves used for military purposes, which would furnish our army with all the negroes it could use. They might be of great service in camp duties, as cooks, hospital attendants, teamsters, guides, &c., and work on entrenchments, greatly to the relief of our soldiers, and to the release of a large number who are kept for the fighting ranks by such duties. The army might have its pick of the able bodied black men for these services.

But this it is the duty of the Commander-in-Chief to attend to, and his power is amply efficient. It is as far as any confiscation of slaves can go, until provision is made for protecting them in the country where they are, and where their labor is vital to its propriety. But the confiscation of other property can be divested of this question and of all the subterfuges which it furnishes to disloyalty. – {Cincinnati Gazette.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 3, 1862, p. 1

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