1150 Series IV Volume III- Serial 129 - Correspondence, Orders, Reports and Returns of the Confederate Authorities from January 1, 1864, to the End
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exercise of that power in the future. The third section of this act, exempting skilled artisans and mechanics from all military service, which is exempted to by the President and which has since been repealed, was originally adopted in comsequence of suggestions contained in the report of the Secretary of War. In alluding to the embarrassments encountered by the administrative bureaus, the Secretary says: "In addition they have been constrained, by the stringent legislation of Congress, to relinquish their most active and experinced agents and employes and substitute them from more infirm and aged classes. " Again: "Interferences of this kind are inevitably so prejudicial and disturbing that it is hoped a well-devised and permanent system of providing and retaining in continuous employment a sufficient number of artisans, experts, and laborers for all essential operations may be devised and established. " The truth is that the bill originally introduced intot he Senate exempting skiled artisans and mechanics was actually prepared in one of the bureaus of the War Department. Congress, therefore, had reason to suppose that it would meet the sanction of the Executive.
To conscribe the ministers of religion and require them to obtain details to preach the gospel would shock the religious sentiment of the country and inflict a greater injury on our cause than can be described. The conscription of editors and of the printers necessary to the publication of newspapers would destroy the independence of the press, and subject it to the control of the Executive Department of the Government. Railroad officers and employes are as necessary to the prosecution of the war as soldiers in the field. Physicians and apothecaries are essential to the health of the people, and no compliant has reached Congress of abuses of this class of exemptions. If the education of youth be regarded as conducive to maintenance of society and the preservation of iberty, it is not perceived that the exemption of professors of colleges and teachers of schools can be justly censured. The Senate passed a bill containing a section repealing the exemption allowed to mail contractors and drivers of post coaches; but at a subsequent stage of proceedings, and on the recommendation of a committee of conference, based on the urgent remonstrances of the Postmaster-General, the section alluded to was stricken out.
The subject of class exemptions was called to the attention of Congress by the Executive message of November last. It was carefully considered, and an act was passed expressive of the views of the legislative department of the Government. The message under consideration recurs to the same subject. It is to be regretted that the views of the legislative department of the Government have not met the favor of the Executive, and that he should deem it both necessary and proper to express dissatisfaction with the matured opinion of Congress.
It is true that Congress has failed to respond to the recommendation of the President to enact a general militia law. The subject was considered, and the failure to act was the result of deliberation. The conscription laws enacted by Congress have placed in the military service of the country all its able-bodied citizens between the ages of seventeen and fifty. The whole military material of the country, so far as legislation is concerned, is absorbed by the conscription acts. There is none left on which a militia law can operate, except the exempted classes and the boys under seventeen and the men over fifty years of age. It was deemed expedient to allow this material to remain subject to the control of the State authorities for the purposes of local police to aid in the arrest of deserters and to enforce the administration of State laws.
It is also true that the President has recommended the passage of a law suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. This recommendation was the subject of a special message in secret session. It occupied the attention of Congress for four or five weeks. After mature deliberation the measure was laid aside as unimportant and inexpedient. Spies can be arrested and tried summarily without suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Conspiracies, tending in any manner to the injury of our cause, were provided for by a special act passed at the present session "to define and punish conspiracy against the Confederate States. " The States of North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi had expressed, through their Legislatures, great repugnance to the past legislation of Congress suspending the writ, and a large portion of the people throughout the country was arrayed against the policy of that legislation. It was deemed wise and prudent to conciliate opposition at a time when dissensions are ruinous; and as the benefits to be derived from the suspension of the writ were conjectural the deliberate judgment of Congress was expressed by its silence on the subject. It is to be regretted that the Executive does not concur in these views, and again calls on Congress to revise its action and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus as a measure "almost indispensable to the successful conduct of the war. " If the facts stated in the confidential message alluded to bbe the basis of the opinion that the suspension of the writ "is indispensable to the successful
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