cargo of coal there for the gas company, and it was refused by the Secretary of the Treasury. There have been two or three murders recently and dark streets will facilitate the perpetration of crime. Permits have been given to particular individuals to take cargoes there in a few instances for general traffic, and in direct violation of the laws of blockade, if the blockade exists. But the Secretary of the Navy has instructed Admiral Lee not to allow any traffic in tobacco, shingles, or other products of the labor of the inhabitants with the places from which merchandise has been introduced under the permits referred to, and as they have no money they cannot as a general rule avail themselves of the benefits of this partial reopening of trade. Special permits are a source of the most unconscionable extortions. A man was permitted to take 250 tons of coal the other day, and the city being nearly destitute he sold for $ 15 a ton what cost him about $ 6. The Secretary of the Navy has instructed Admiral Lee not to allow anything to pass except supplies for the army on permits from General Dix. There is a revenue cutter here in charge of a discreet and vigilant officer who is exercising the appropriate function of suppressing illicit trade; but the Navy Department assumes that the admiral is there to enforce a blockade as if the place belonged to an enemy, whereas it is on our possession, held by military occupation, and should be governed by the commander of the military forces until the laws of the United States are fully extended over it. How can it be said to be a blockaded port when the United States mail is carried to and for daily and a post-office established for general correspondence without restriction? I earnestly ask your attention to my letter of the 4th instant to the Secretary of War.
The permits given at Washington to particular individuals to trade at Norfolk, for want of proper information, have been granted in some instances to unworthy persons. One was obtained not long ago by an individual who was turned out of the quartermaster's department at this post for fraud and who was recently found with a large quantity of quinine destined unquestionably for Richmond.
You may have heard that articles are smuggled through Norfolk to Richmond. No doubt a pound of tea and a pair of boots may reach there occasionally. Smuggling exists wherever a large profit is to be made. But these leaks at Norfolk and everywhere else do not amount to an appreciable sum. Tea has risen in three months from $ 15 to $ 20 a pound at Richmond, and other articles in proportion, showing how little has been gained by contraband trade.
If the War or Treasury Departments are unwilling to trust to the military commander the power of granting permits to carry to Norfolk what is necessary to save the people from absolute suffering, but prefer to retain it, it should be delegated to a special agent here, who will know precisely what is needed, and who can, through the information he will gain, confine supplies to proper limits and the privilege of trading to honest hands.
I hope you will be able to spare half an hour from your urgent duties to consider this matter. Between the Treasury Department, whose province it is to regulate peaceful commerce, and the Navy Department, which fancies it is enforcing a blockade, the unfortunate inhabitants of Norfolk and Portsmouth (one-third of them loyal) are in danger of starvation, and the military authorities, which have the nominal control, bear all the responsibility and the odium.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,