CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, TREASURY DEPT.,
Richmond, October 15, 1861.
The COMMISSIONER APPOINTED TO RECEIVE SUBSCRIPTION TO THE PRODUCE LOAN:
GENTLEMAN: Inquiries have been made from various quarters - first, whether during the continuance of the blockade effort should be made to procure further subscriptions; seconds, whether the Government will authorize promises to be held out of aid to planters as an inducement to such further subscriptions. The first inquiry seems to imply a misunderstanding of the scheme of the subscriptions. Many person have supposed that the Government was to have some control of the produce itself; others, that the time of sale appointed by the subscription was to be absolute and unconditional. The caption at the head of the lists when examined will correct both these errors. The subscription is confined to the proceeds of sales, and contains an order on the commission merchant or factor of the planter to pay over to the Treasurer the amount subscribed in exchange for Confederate bonds. The transaction is simply an agreement by the planter to lend the Government so much money, and in order to complete the transaction a time and place are appointed when and where the parties may meet to carry it out. The important point is that it shall certainly be completed at some time, and that is secured by the engagement of the planter. Whether that time be December or June is simply a question of convenience, and works no injury to either party. The Government is sure of the eventual payment, and derives from that certainly so much credit; and it loses nothing because it gives its bond only when the money is paid. It is obvious, therefore, that the subscriptions are quite as valuable to the Government during the blockade as after it. The blockade simply suspends the completion of the engagement. It becomes the interest of both parties to wait for a good price, and the Government will readily consent to a postponement of the sale. You perceive, therefore, that it is desirable to continue your exertions to increase the subscriptions, and you are authorized to say that the Government will consent to a reasonable extension of the time appointed for sales. Second. The next inquiomise of material aid from the Government to the planters. In answering this inquiry I am to speak in advance of any action of Congress. What that body may see fit to do it is not for me to determine. I can express merely the views of this Department, and these must govern your action until reversed by a higher authority. It would be a sufficient answer to the inquiry to say that the action of the Government is settled by the Constitution. No power is granted to any department to lend money for the relief of any interest. Even the power of congress in relation to money is confined to borrowing, and no clause can be found which would sanction so stupendous a scheme as purchasing the entire crops with a view to aid its owners. But it may be said that the Constitution of the Provisional Government may be altered by Congress, and that it is the duty of this Department to prepared the way for each alternation if, in its judgment, the financial necessities of the country demand the change. I am not disposed, then to close the inquiry with the abrupt answer thus made by the Constitution, and will proceed to consider the subject upon its intrinsic merits. Two plans of relief have been proposed.
44 R R - SERIES IV, VOL I