War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0075 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

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federate officer, and if the State law be indeed valid and operative in his favor he will be released.

It seems to me that the interference of the State Executive countermanding or "countervailing" the action of the Confederate Executive is the most exceptionable of all possible means of redress for the oppression of the citizen. Most assuredly it has never seemed to me that in any conceivable case it could be my duty to "countervail" or countermand the order of the Governor of a State in its action on individuals. The Confederate courts, as well as those of the State, possess ample powers for the redress of grievances, whether inflicted by legislation or executive usurpation, and the direct conflict of executive authorities presents a condition of affairs so grave and is suggestive of consequences so disastrous that I am sure you cannot contemplate them without deep-seated alarm. On a memorable occasion in the history of South Carolina the State authority nullified an act of Congress because of unconstitutionality, but on no occasion did any portion of her citizens ever maintain the right of that State to modify an order of the General Government. It does not appear either from the resolution of your honorable body or from the letter of the chief of the military department that any other action is contemplated at present than a published order which will deter the citizens from obeying the Confederate laws and render those under them liable to punishment if it should happen that your opinion of their right to exemption should be held erroneous by the courts. Without adverting to the deplorable effect upon public opinion that must necessarily result from the publication of orders exhibiting a direct conflict between the Confederate and State Executives, may I not appeal to your candor for the admission that the rights of the State will be equally vindicated and those of the conscript be secured with less hazard to himself by an appeal to any competent judge for relief from the order of the Confederate officer? Will not the writ of habeas corpus be amply effective to relieve him from personal constraint by the officers of the Government, if that constraint be unlawful? And if so, am I not justified in the conviction that you will upon further consideration be satisfied that no public duty imposes on you the necessity of intervening at this crisis of our fortunes in a mode which must greatly embarrass the conduct of the war? Pardon me for one more suggestion. I am informed that the exemptions claimed as valid were ordained by your convention solely with reference to your State militia; that the ordinance was passed before the passage of the conscript law, and without any reference to that law, and that by its terms it has no relation to the armies of the Confederacy. I have no copy of the ordinance and am not aware of its terms, but if my information is coo furnish an additional and persuasive reason which may lead you to the conclusion that, in view of the early meeting of your convention, you may well forbear the action indicated in your letter, and which, in my judgment, is greatly to be deprecated.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

[SEPTEMBER 3, 1862. -For Lee to Randolph, informing him of the many conscripts obtainable in the counties of Virginia recently vacated by the enemy, &c., see Series I, VOL. XIX, Part II, p. 589.]