After the most diligent inquiry, I believe the number left in the State capable of bearing arms is insufficient, unless judiciously organized into military bodies, to keep the slaves subject to authority.
I am receiving information daily, and from various parts of the State, of an increasing disposition on the part of the slaves to go to the enemy, and unless we shall have a force apparently sufficient to prevent it, they may accomplish their purpose by violence, especially if any attempt shall be made by the enemy to invade the State by land.
The exposed condition of the State geographically, the large number of slaves in it, and the immense number of our citizens absent in arms, under existing circumstances, are facts worthy the most serious consideration. Allow me to suggest most respectfully that you should advocate such measures of legislation as the safety of the State may require without compromising the honor and dignity of the State in her obligations to her sister States for the maintenance of the war.
There is another matter to which I would invite your attention. The ability of the Confederate Government to command the respect and the recognition of European Governments and maintain the war successfully with the United States depends very much upon the wise control of cotton.
The villainous traffic which is carried on by speculators under the plea of furnishing the people of the South with the prime necessities of life should be suppressed.
In November last I opposed vessels leaving Apalachicola with cotton, but agreed, after consulting the Secretary of the Navy, to let them depart with turpentine. In violation of this understanding an attempt was made to leave the port with a shipload of cotton, which was prevented by my order to General Floyd, then in command of the ficola. The Secretary of War, the Hon. J. P. Benjamin, interposed, insisting on the right of the vessels to depart.
Inclosed you will receive copies of the telegraphic correspondence. * Agreeably to the views of the Secretary of War five vessels were permitted to leave port and were captured by the enemy in transit, as will appear by the statement of the collector at the port.
Since then other vessels have left our ports with cotton, some of which have returned with coffee, salt, and other articles of merchandise, which the owners or their agents have disposed of at the most exorbitant prices to the citizens of this and adjacent States. Some of the goods were manufactured in the United States, and over the manufacturers' stamps upon the goods the names of English manufacturers were stamped, which upon being removed exhibited the cunning device of Yankee villainy, thus confirming a suspicion which I had entertained and expressed, that frauds were perpetrated under the pretense of loyalty to the South.
After patient inquiries of several months the evidence obtained satisfied me beyond doubt that individuals residing in New York, Boston, Havana, and Nassau, and in some of our Southern cities, had formed copartnerships by which to carry on the most nefarious and profitable traffic under false pretenses -partners residing at the South professing loyalty to the South, partners residing at the North expressing loyalty to the North, and partners at intermediate points loyalty only to circumstances. The owners or agents in Havana or Nassau receive merchandise sent from northern cities, and received
*Not found as inclosures.