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President Davis in Reply to General Sherman. 267
Eyiqidrer ; but, after carefully reading it, I am disposed to regard it as genuine. It truthfully represents the views of the editorial manage- ment of the Enquirer at that time. I witnessed the extraordinary efforts which the United States authorities were making for our con- quest and subjugation, and I considered it to be the duly of our people to make like sacrifices for safety and liberty. The 'convention' re- ferred to in the extract was the convention proposed in North Carolina in the early part of 1864, in the contest for Governor, between Mr. Holden and Governor Vance, and which had for its object to give opportunity of action to the incipient treason which was rife in that State under the leadership of Mr. Holden. The article from the E71- qiiirer was intended to support Governor Vance and the Confederate cause, which the management of the paper regarded as paramount to all other considerations. I did not presume to speak for you or your administration, but to utter what I believed every true Confederate to hold — that the public defence demanded the exercise of every energy, and that all that hindered that defence should be swept away and remitted to more peaceful occasions.
"The Enqtiirer is the ' public journal' to which Mr. Stephens re- ferred in his letter to Hon. H. V. Johnson, and which he represents as the ' organ ' of your administration. I very distinctly remember his coming to the office and lecturing the editors on their support of the measures for the public defence; but, as his views were visionary and impracticable, his temper excited and his influence under a cloud, we gave to his person all respect and to his advice the least attention that was possible. He was a good man and a true and zealous Con- federate, but his ' balance ' was decidedly out of plumb in the last year of the war, and in politics he wabbled whenever he discussed public affairs. I have always believed if you had assumed ' abso- lute power,' shot deserters and hung traitors, seized supplies and brought to the front every man capable of bearing arms, that a dif- ferent result of the war might have been obtained. But your very sensitive respect for Constitution and law, for the rights and sove- reignties of States, is attested by the fact that the wildest license was allowed to the press, and that, right under your nose, to use Mr. Stephens's expression, the Exaniiyier daily expressed sentiments of opposition to your measures, which, if any newspaper in the United States had dared to publish against Mr. Lincoln's recommendations, its editor would have been promptly imprisoned. By any comparison that can be made between your administration and that of President Lincoln, history will award to you far more respect for the essential