last spring, when I withheld active resistance to a very heavy draft upon the military organization of the State under the first conscription act, cannot be pleaded after the brilliant successes of our gallant armies during the summer and fall campaign, which have been achieved by troops who entered the service not as conscripts but as volunteers.
If more troops are needed to meet coming emergencies, call upon the all have them as volunteers much more rapidly than your enrolling officer can drag conscripts like slaves in chains to camps of instruction. And who that is not blinded by prejudice or ambition can doubt that they will be much more effective as volunteers than as conscripts? The volunteer enters the service of his own free will; he regards the war as much his own as the Government's war, and is ready, if need be, to offer his life a willing sacrifice upon his country's altar; hence it is that our volunteer armies have been invincible when contending against vastly superior numbers with every advantage which the best equipments and supplies can afford. Not so with the conscript. He may be as ready as any citizen of the State of volunteer if permitted to enjoy the constitutional rights which have been allowed to others in the choice of his officers and associates, but if these are denied him and he is seized like a serf and hurried into an association repulsive to his feelings and placed under officers in whom he has no confidence, he then feels that this is the Government's war, not his; that he is the mere instrument of arbitrary power, and that he is no longer laboring to establish constitutional liberty, but to build up a military despotism for its ultimate but certain overthrow. Georgians will never refuse to volunteer as long as there is an enemy upon our soil and a call for their services; but if I mistake not the signs of the times they will require the Government to respect you should refuse to accept volunteers when tendered, and insist on replenishing your armies by conscription and coercion of free men. The question, then, is not whether you shall have Georgia's quota of troops, for they are freely offered-tendered in advance-but it is whether you shall accept them when tendered as volunteers, organized as the Constitution and laws direct, or shall, when the decision is left with you, insist on rejecting volunteers and dragging the free citizens of this State into your armies as conscripts.
No act of the Government of the United States prior to the secession of Georgia struck a blow at constitutional liberty so fell as has been stricken by the conscription acts. The people of this State had ample cause, however, to justify their separation from the old Government. They acted coolly and deliberately in view of all the responsibilities, and they stand ready to-day to sustain their action at all hazards and to resist submission to the Lincoln Government and the reconstruction of the old Union to the expenditure of their last dollar and the sacrifice of their last life. Having entered into the revolution free men, they intend to emerge from it free men. And if I mistake not the character of the sons, judged by the action of their fathers against Federal encroachments under Jackson, Troup, and Gilmer, respectively, as executive officers, they will refuse to yield their sovereignty to usurpation and will require the Government, which is the common agent of all the States, to move within the sphere assigned it by the Constitution.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH E. BROWN.