War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0074 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

charged with the law for the enrollment of conscripts in the State of South Carolina. From this communication and its inclosures I learn with profound regret that it is your purpose to promulgate an order "countervailing" that which Lieutenant-Colonel Preston has been instructed to issue, and thus to obstruct the due execution of the conscript law. It is of the gravest character, and I am unwilling to accept it without an appeal to your well-known and fully recognized patriotism and devotion to the common cause. I must confess that among the trials and difficulties of the pending contest for our liberties and independence none was less apprehended by me than that which would arise from the contemplated action of the executive authority of South Carolina. The grounds of your action are not disclosed otherwise than it may be possible to gather them from the papers inclosed by Lieutenant-Colonel Preston. From these it appears that on the 19th of August it was by you "resolved that Colonel J. S. Preston be informed that the Governor and council do insist upon the exemption granted by the State authorities of all persons claimed to be liable to Confederate conscription," and that by letter of the same date, addressed to the same officer, you informed him, after setting forth his order calling certain conscripts into camp, "that public policy requires that a countervailing order should issue from the State authority upon the appearance of such a one as you propose, and the duty the Governor and the Council owe to the sovereign power of the State will render it imperative upon them to do it. "

If I do not misapprehend the meaning of these passages, the right is here broadly asserted that the State of South Carolina may at her pleasure relieve a portion of her citizens from obedience to laws of the Confederate Congress, admitted to be "constitutional laws" by your permitting them to be executed on another portion of the people. The right thus asserted is, to my mind, so devoid of foundation that I hesitate in attributing to you the intention f maintaining it, and still entertain in attributing to you the intention of maintaining it, and still entertain the hope that I may have misapprehended your meaning. It is so very clear that the agreement of the States, as contained in the Constitution, to delegate to Congress the power to declare was and raise armies would be utterly defeated by the exercise of a power on the part of the States to exempt at their pleasure any or all of the citizens from service in the armies of the Confederacy, that I am at a loss how to illustrate so plain a proposition. If a State may free her citizens from service in the armies of the Confederacy, that I am at a loss how to illustrate so plain a proposition. If a State may free her citizens from service in the armies of the Confederacy, that I am at a loss how to illustrate so plain a proposition. If a er citizens at her own discretion from the burden of military duty, she may do the same in regard to the burden of taxation, or any other lawful duty, payment, or service. In other words, the assertion of such a right on the part of the State is tantamount to a denial of the right of the Confederate Government to enforce the exercise of the delegated power, and would render a confederacy an impracticable form of government. But if it be granted even that I am wrong in these opinions, it seems to me that the proposed action of your honorable body would still be without just ground. The conscript law acts upon individuals in the different States. If any citizen of the State of South Carolina entitled to exemption from its operation is wrongfully subjected to its action by the Confederate officers, his remedy is open to him. It is plain and easy. Let him apply to the judges of the land for relief from the action of the Con-