Today in History:

1149 Series IV Volume III- Serial 129 - Correspondence, Orders, Reports and Returns of the Confederate Authorities from January 1, 1864, to the End


and exact view of the state of the country, and of its future prospects, and what measures of legislation are required. "

In response to this resolution the President might well have communicated to the Senate his views as to the necessity and policy of arming the slaves of the Confederacy as a means of public defense. No answer whatever has been made to the resolution. In addition to this, a joint commitee was raised by Congress, under a concurrent resolution adopted in sedret session on the 30th of December, 1864. That committee, by the resolution creating it, was instructed, by conference with the President, and by such other means as they sahll deem proper, to ascertain whta are our reliable means of public defense, present and prospective.

A written report was made by the committee on January 25, 1865, and although it had a conference with the President no allusion is made in the report to any suggestion by him that the necessities of the contry required the employment of slaves as soldiers. Under these circumstances Congress, influenced no doubt by the opinion of General Lee, determined for itself the propriety, policy, and necessity of adopting the measure in question.

The recommendations of the President to employ 40,000 slaves as cooks, teamsters, and as engineer and pioneer laborers was assented to, and a law has been enacted at the present session for the purpose, without limit as to number.

All the measures recommended by the President to promote the efficiency of the Army have been adopted, except the entire repeal of class exemptions, and some measures not suggested by him, such as the creation of the office of General-in-Chief, were originated and passed by Congress, with a view to the restoration of public confidence and the energetic administration of military affairs.

On the subject of exemptions the President in his message of November 7 uses the following language: "No pursuit or position should relieve any one who is able to do active duty from enrollment in the Army, unless his functions or services are more useful to the defense of his country in another sphere. But it is manifest that this cannot be the case with entire clases. All telegraph operators, workmen in mines, professors, teachers, engineers, editors and employes of newspapers, journeymen printers, shoemakers, tanners, blacksmiths, millers, physicians, and numerous other classes mentioned in the laws cannot in the nature of things be either equally necessary in their several professions, nor distributed throughout the country in such proportions that only the exact numbers required are found in each locality," &c.

The casual reader woudl infer that thelaws, as they stood at the date of the message, exempted the classes enumerated by the President, as well as many other classes not mentioned by him. Such is not the fact. The only class exemptions allowed by the laws then in force were the following: Ministers of religion; superintendents and physicians of asylums for the deaf, dumb, and blind, and of the insane; one editor for each newspaper, and such employes as the editor may certify on oath as indispensably necessary; the public printers of the Confederate and State governments, and their journeymen printers; one skilled apthecary in each apothecary store, who was doing business as such on the 10th of October, 1862; physicians over thirty years of age, and for the last seven years in practice; presidents and teachers of colleges, seminaries, and schools, and the superintendents, physicians, and nurses in public hospitals; certain mail contractors and drivers of post coaches; certain officer and employes of railroad crtain agriculturists of overseers.

Officers of the State governments are not properly included among the exempted classes, because it is conceded that Congress has no constitutional power to conscribe them as soldiers. Nor are Dunkards, Quakers, or other non-combatants regarded as belonging to class exemptions, because, under the act of June 7, 1864, the exemption of these perons is subject to the control of the Secretary of War. The exemption of agriculturists or overseers between the ages of eighteen and forty-five has been repealed at the present session. Tanners, shoemakers, millers, blacksmiths, telegraph operators, and workmen in mines, enumerated by the President as among the classes exempted, are not now and have not been since the passage of the act of February 17, 1864, exempted as a class. If railroad officers and employes and State officers, who are not constitutionally subject to conscription, be excluded, the clases now exempted east of the Mississippi River embrace about 9,000 men, one-third of who are physicians, and nearly another third are ministers of the gospel; the remaining third is principally composed of teachers, profesors, printers, and employes in newspaper officers and apothecaries.

In remarkable contrast to the number of persons relieved from military service by the exemptions above mentioned, the report of the Conscript Bureau exhibits the fact that east of the Mississippi river 22,035 men have been detailed by Executive authority. In consequence of this abuse of the power of detail, Congress as its present session passed an act revoking all details and limiting the