EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Richmond, January 28, 1865.
His Excellency Governor VANCE,
Of North Carolina:
SIR: I have received your communication of the [17th] instant with pain and regret. Virginia has never attempted to avail hersel of any advantage she may have possessed over her sister States, to their prejudice. She fearlessly challenges the world to show an instance in which she can be justly accused of such an attempt. It is therefore with no little mortification that she has received the resolution of your honored States, impeaching her conduct, or that of her authorities, as violating the courtesy which ought to regulate the intercourse of sister States, and inflicting an injury upon the State of North Carolina. Your Excellency has heretofore been apprised of the conduct of Virginia, officially, in reference to the salt interests, and it may be unnecessary to recall your attention to them. But as they seem to be overlooked, and as Virginia is justly desirous of the good opinion of your State, it may perhaps be proper and judicious to revert to the past. Within the bounds of Virginia, but near an exposed frontier, is found an invaluable saline with capacity to supply the wants of the Confederacy. Virginia, for the supply of her citizens, found it necessary to operate a portion of the capacity of these works hersefl. She has never attempted to appropriate this gift of God to man to her exclusive use; she has never attempted to make money from it by exaction upon her sister States; but she has attempted to prevent a monopoly thereof, and to protect the country against speculation and extorition. Under her liberal policy her sister States have erected establishments there without being subjected to any exceptionable dicriminations. The Board of Public Works, to whom this subject was confided on the part of Virginia, and who have controlled the transportation leading to the works, adopted al policy. The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad Company, on Friday, July 31, 1863 (see report of Board of Public Works, Doc. 6, PAGE 6, herewith inclosed), adopted a preamble and resolutions providing that "transportation on their road should be conducted, first for, the Arm of the Confederacy; secondly, for the State of Virginia; thirdly, for such States of the Confederacy as are, through their agents, manufacturing salt on State account; and foughtly, for companies and individuals in fair and just proportions. I respectfully submit that you will agree with me that this resolution was just, fair, and proper. The Board of Public works approved and adopted this regulation.
Foregin trains having been introduced on our roads, ostensibly for the purpose of transporting salt manufactured on State account, the State of Virginia found it necessary to regulate this subject. The Board of Public Works accordingly ordered that "such trains shall not be allowed to transport salt upon the roads of Virginia, except that manufactured on State account," and that such trains shall not be allowed to transport salt on private account and speculation so long as there was salt to transport belonging to the States owning the trains, or so long as other States not owning trains might desire to use them for the transportation of their salt. The immediate cause of this order was the conviction that private cupidity might interfere with the supply of the States, and prevent cheap salt from reaching the citizens thereof. The propriety of such regulation will hardly be questioned. On the 31st of October, 1863, the Legislature of Virginia gave to this subject the most anxious consideration, and they provided by law, first, that the Confederate Government was entitled to priority of