This being Sunday I shall hear no news, for I will not be in any of the departments.
There is a vague understanding that notwithstanding the repulse of the enemy at Charleston, still the Federal Government collects the duties on merchandise brought into that port, and, indeed, into all other ports. These importations, although purporting to be conducted by British adventurers, it is said are really contrived by Northern merchants, who send hither (with the sanction of the Federal Government, by paying the duty in advance) British and French goods, and in return ship our cotton to Liverpool, etc., whence it is sometimes reshipped to New York. The duties paid the United States are of course paid by the consumers in the Confederate States, in the form of an additional per centum on the prices of merchandise. Some suppose this arrangement has the sanction of certain members of our government. The plausibility of this scheme (if it really exists) is the fact that steamers having munitions of war rarely get through the blockading fleet without trouble, while those having only merchandise arrive in safety almost daily. Gen. D. Green intimates that Mr. Memminger, and Frazer & Co., Charleston, are personally interested in the profits of heavy importations.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 299