I30 CONFEDERATE PORTRAITS
and of corruption amounting to treason are brought against him, I think wholly without foundation. But he struck one rock after another and was finally wrecked by the unfortunate affair of Roanoke Island. Wise charged that the secretary ordered him to remain in an impos- sible position, refused him powder, and so led up to the disaster. Benjamin remained silent at the time, but after- wards explained that there was no powder, and that he willingly submitted to public censure rather than reveal the deficiency. This is assuredly to his credit. Congress censured him, however, and a resolution was offered, though tabled, " that it is the deliberate judgment of this House that the Hon. Judah P. Benjamin, as secretary of war, has not the confidence of the people of the Con- federate States, nor of the Army, to such an extent as to meet the exigencies of the present crisis." ^^
Davis, thereupon, to show his confidence in his favor- ite, transferred him to the still higher post of secretary of state. It is said that Benjamin here served his chief in innumerable ways, drafting public documents, sug- gesting and advising on lines quite outside the technical limits of his office. The best known of these activities are in regard to the Hampton Roads Peace Commission and the attempt to make military use of the negroes and even to emancipate them for the sake of securing foreign sup- port. In these attempts also Benjamin failed, or what slight measure of success there was went to the credit of others.