War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0188 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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of certain circuits are occupied by the enemy, and it is impossible for the judges to procure the required certificates. It may be necessary, therefore, to modify this provision to have effect only pending the war.

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There are confined in Salisbury by the Confederate authorities a number of citizens of North Carolina arrested for alleged political offenses. How long they are to remain incarcerated no one can say but those who apprehended them. What their guilt really consists in I do not know, but this much it becomes both you and me to know in view of the oaths we take upon entering into office, that they were not arrested by lawful process. As citizens of North Carolina they are entitled under the constitution to a speedy trial by a jury of their peers and to be confronted with their accusers. I have laid their cases before His Excellency the President of the Confederate States,* and when his reply is received you will be informed thereof. Should there exist any grave State reasons why they are denied a trail it is due at least that we should be informed of them. I have not seen and official copy of the act, but learn from the newspapers that Congress has conferred upon the President the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in all cases of arrests made by the Confederate authority. If this be once admitted no man is safe from the power of one individual. He could at pleasure seize any citizen of the State, with or without excuse, throw him into prison, and permit him to languish there without relief-a power that I am unwilling to see intrusted to any living man. To submit to its exercise would, in my opinion, be establishing a precedent dangerous and pernicious in the extreme. Among a people so united and faithful to their cause and ours, where disloyalty is the rare and solitary exception to the general rule, I can see but little good, but a vast tide of inflowing evil, from these inordinate stretches of military power which are fast disgracing us equally with our Northern enemies. A free republic that must needs cast off its freedom in every time of trouble will soon cast it off forever. Freedom cannot be embraced to-day and spurned to-morrow; a steadfast and constant worship can alone secure here countless blessings. Her chosen instruments-the constitution and the laws-were made the sure covenant of here everlasting residence among us, our delight in time of peas and prosperity and our guide and shield int he day of trouble and calamity. Now, if ever, is the time when we should abide strictly by their stern decrees and walk uprightly in the narrow path they have marked out for our footsteps. We should least of all forsake the helm and the compass when the vessel is driven by the tempest and clouds and darkness obscure the war. Deeply impressed as I have been with the importance of this subject, I have been anxious at the same time to avoid any unnecessary conflict with the Confederate authorities. I have, therefore, waited patiently for your assembling, confident that you would take proper steps to maintain the laws and preserve the rights of our people.

It becomes my duty, also, to call your attention to the subject of officering our troops in the field, some conflict of opinion existing in regard thereto. The right of the State authorities to commission the officers of the regiments originally raised for the war is not doubted. It is conceded by the act of Congress of April 16, 1862, known as the conscript law. But the Confederate authorities claimed the right to commission the regiments of twelve-months' men continued in service


*See Series I, VOL. LI, Part II, p. 644.