coast than any other State, she has had fewer troops given her for its defense.
It is not necessary, gentlemen, that I should call your attention to the abounding wealth of this threatened section of our State-filled with everything necessary for the comfort of our Army and our people-or to the suffering and ruin of its loyal, patriotic inhabitants. You are sufficiently informed in regard thereto. It is for you, therefore, to say whether you will suffer our defenses, as heretofore, to remain exclusively in the hands of the Confederate authorities, or take steps to carry out the will of the last Legislature and raise troops enough on State authority to strengthen the weak hand of the General Government on our coasts. I unhesitatingly recommend the raising of at least ten regiments or reserves, to be accepted for three or four months and dismissed in time to pitch their crops in the spring. This force, auxiliary to the Confederate troops, would probably be able to prevent an advance of the enemy into the interior, and while subsisting on the abundant supplies in our eastern counties would benefit the whole State by aiding in withdrawing vast quantities or provisions from exposed points. Inasmuch as it may become necessary for slave labor to be employed on State defenses, and my authority to force such labor may be questioned by some, I would respectfully recommend the propriety of the passing of an act whereby such authority may be vested in me in case such urgent necessity shall arise as will justify it.
Next to the defense of the State from the enemy in importance is the defense of our people against extortion and starvation. Notwithstanding the failure of the crop in the western part of the State, it is believed that there is within our borders and abundance of grain for the supply of our people and a surplus for the use of the Army. The lands heretofore devoted to cotton and tobacco have been planted in corn very generally, and the crop of this essential product is perhaps larger by many hundred thousand bushels than has ever been known. When this is considered, together with the immense crop of peas, potatoes, fruit, &c., there would seem to be little danger of any actual suffering among our people, nor would there be could it all be properly distributed and at r. But the demon of speculation and extortion seems to have seized upon nearly all sorts and conditions of men, and all the necessaries of life are fast getting beyond the reach of the poor. Flour, which if properly left to the laws of supply and demand could not have risen to more than double peace rates, can now be used only by the rich. Everything has a tendency upward in the same proportion. Leather, woolen cloth, and cotton goods have been made the special means of extortion. As if we were not sufficiently afflicted with the base and avaricious in our own midst, speculators from distant States swarm in the land, offering fabulous prices for everything they can buy, and, in many instances, taking advantage of the patriotism of our people, they represent themselves as agents of the Government purchasing for the Army, thus obtaining what they could not otherwise do. The supply of salt will, I hope, [hold out;] but this subject, too, needs legislative action. Dr. Worth, the salt commissioner appointed by the convention, has been industriously at work, but he has not produced a great quantity owing to the difficulties which he has mentioned in his reports. His first works, at Morehead City, were taken by the enemy before he had fairly gotten into operation. His next effort, at Wilmington, was successful in producing about 250 bushels per day for some time before they were interrupted by the yellow fever, which has caused their