Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/544

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

our agents at cost in the foreign market, and pay there in cotton, which sells at a net price of 24 pence per pound. When all the elements of calculation are taken into consideration, it is by no means an exaggeration to say that 100 bales of cotton exported by the Government will purchase abroad the same amount and value of supplies that 600 bales would purchase delivered to contractors in the Confederacy. A reference to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury shows that of 11,796 bales of cotton shipped since 1st of July last, but 1,272 were lost; not quite 11 per cent. If this be taken as a fair average, and it is believed to be so, out of 600 bales of cotton exported, 534 would arrive abroad and yield, at £40 per bale, £21,360, while the same 600 bales delivered on payment at a home port, at 6 pence per pound, would yield less than £6,000.

There are other advantages derived from buying abroad, rather than contracting with blockade runners, of no small magnitude, but the foregoing statement will show the enormous profits that were made by them when the Government was forced to contract instead of purchasing for itself, and will suggest a motive for the strenuous efforts they have not ceased to make to get rid of the regulations and procure a change in the policy of the Government. It is to the law and regulations that the Government owes its ability to command freight room, and then buy and sell for itself instead of being forced to make contracts so extravagant as those above described. It requires little sagacity to perceive that with temptation so great the owners of vessels would spare no pains to obtain contracts from the several States, if allowed to do so by law, with the view of again withdrawing from our use as far as possible the tonnage of their vessels, and thus compelling a return to the ruinous contract system.

The reports of the Secretaries will fully inform you of the quantity and nature of the supplies obtained by the Government under the present system, and their importance to the national defense will be perceived at a glance.

Fourth. To the fourth inquiry, whether experience has suggested the necessity of the repeal of said act, or any modification or amendment of its provisions, the foregoing remarks would seem to furnish a sufficient answer. But I conclude, by renewing the expression of my conviction that the result of any legislation checking or diminishing the control now exercised by the Govern-