the rebel Government of all possible means of support, to take possession of mules, horses, cattle, and the staple products of the country-cotton, sugar, and tobacco. I have given the people to understand that those who are well-disposed and entitled to the favor of the Government will receive compensation for this property according to its value in this country at the time of our arrival, with its restricted markets and liability to destruction by guerrillas or confiscation by the beeves, mules, and horses have been forwarded to Brashear City, with 5,000 bales of cotton and many hogsheads of sugar.
Some protests have been received from those assuming to be French or English subjects against the possession of this property by the Government of the United States; but I have regarded it as a war measure, and placed the protests upon file without other response than that I have states above, verbally given to all these parties.
In the progress of the army I believe it will expedient to adopt a different principle; and should we reach Alexandria under circumstances that will justify our holding that point for any length of time, I propose to announce to the people that the Government of the United States will levy a contribution of 50 per cent. upon all the staple products of the country-cotton, sugar, and tobacco; and that subject to this contribution, they will be permitted, without discrimination of persons, to transport their products of the market of New Orleans, where they may be sold under the supervision of the United States, they receiving, in the Federal currency, their proportion of the proceeds of sale. I believe that this policy would loosen from 50,000 to 150,000 bales of cotton, had we force enough to hold this country for any length of time. The revenue received by the Government of the United States would be enormous, the advantage to the people immediate and important, enabling them to protect themselves from starvation, which will inevitably be upon them within the coming year, and at the same time relieve the domestic and foreign manufactories in a great degree of the cotton starvation under which they suffer. I am aware that at first thought this may seem to be in conflict with the act of confiscation; but upon full consideration I am satisfied that it does not interfere with the policy of the Government. In the first place, it is applicable only to perishable property. None of that property can be appropriated to the Government without the consent of the parties in interest, as it is possible for them in every instance to destroy it if they will. A large portion of it is hidden. It discovery and transportation require much valuable time, which the army can illy afford. To prevent its destruction, and to avoid the difficulties entailed by appropriating our transportation to this purpose, it will be necessary to give to the people possessing it some interest in its preservation and sale; and this; I am confident, will secure both objects.
A hundred thousand bales would yield to the Government a revenue of ten or twelve million dollars at present prices. If it will yield to the people a larger interest than they can obtain from the Confederate Government and circulate throughout the State the Federal currency and make them dependent upon our markets for the necessaries of lief, it will go far toward reconciling all parties, even the most hostile, to the restoration of the Government. It is problematical, of course, whether such a policy can be initiated, and, if initiated, whether it will be successful. If opportunity offers I shall try the experiment, and ask the instructions of the Government if it be thought to be inconsistent with its policy.