War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0616 W.FLA., S.ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

New Orleans, December 24, 1862

Major-General HALLECK,

Commander-in-Chief, &c.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a proposition relating to the revival of trade in this region, which I intend to make known to merchants and planters. It will be published at present. It is represented to me that it will be well received. If so, I think all the interests of the Government are or may be secured. It seemed to me that trade east of the river should be cut off altogether. The destitution of the country is very great, and I am assured that the rebel Government has been compelled to consent informally to the propositions made to me for liberty to exchange cotton for provisions, &c. For that reason I have declined all proposals from that quarter.

With great respect, I am, yours, &c.,

N. P. BANKS,

Major-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

New Orleans, December 23, 1862

Upon full consideration of public affairs in the Department of the Gulf and in view of the many consistent interests of the Government and the people, I am induced to offer to the planters living west of the Mississippi River, without reference to past political opinions or relations, an opportunity to seek the markets of the world for the sale of their products, upon the following conditions, to wit: That cotton, sugar, and other products consigned to agents or sent direct to this port may be sold in New Orleans, or such other markets as may be designated at the highest price; that one-half of the net proceeds of such sale shall be paid to the agents, and one-half be retained by the Government as a guarantee for the good behavior of the agent or owner, subject to be claimed by them at the close of the war upon proof of just claims to favorable consideration on the part of the Government. Provisions and clothing to a limited extent consistent with the interests and safety of the Government might be embraced in the returns of such sale, if desired.

The Government is interested in the opening of trade, in the restoration of the constitutional relations between the several States and the United States, and especially in the revival of the ancient prosperity of this the second commercial metropolis of the American continent. I desire it to be understood that this proposition is prompted by motives consistent with the dignity of all parties interested and not by any consideration of public necessity. Cotton is not king; it is servant only. It is not a necessity but a convenience. If its culture fail on this continent other climes will supply the public wants, and substitutes will be found if it ceases to exist. Cotton is not king. The alternative of the suggestion herein made is the subjection of the planters to the extortion of speculators in the sale of products and the purchase of supplies or the destruction of their property by irresponsible parties or public enemies. Neither of these results is consistent with the interest or dignity of the Government or the people.

N. P. BANKS,

Major-General, Commanding.