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Greensborough Patriot

Greensborough Patriot

October 30, 1862

Page 2


                                                From the Raleigh Standard

                                                    The Exemption Act

            We have been frequently asked if, under the exemption act, the owner of twenty slaves, who is in the army, is exempt from service.  We answer that, in our opinion, according to a just construction of an unjust provision, he is exempt.  It would be unjust and cruel to compel the owner of twenty slaves who is in the army, and who may have been there from the beginning of the war, to remain, and at the same time to exempt the owner of twenty slaves at home, who has not, perhaps, struck the first blow for his country.

            While upon this subject we cannot forbear to enter our earnest and indignant protest against that feature in the law which divides our people into classes of slaveholder and non-slaveholder, and which exempts the former from service because he happens to own a certain species of property of a certain value.  This feature is unjust to both classes so-called, and was not desired by either.  The war is waged, not alone for negro property, but for Constitutional liberty and if defence [sic] of our homes.  It is a common cause, and it is as much the duty of one class to fight for it as another.  Political equality is the cornerstone of our government; but what justice, or what political equality can there be in providing that one portion of our people shall be subject to military duty, while another portion are exempt, because they may happen to own a certain species of property?  It is no sufficient answer to say, that police regulations must be adopted and observed, in order to keep the slaves in subjection.  In the first place, the slaves have been remarkably quiet and obedient since the war commenced, with the exception of those localities which have been occupied or threatened by the enemy; and in the second place, the Congress of the Confederate States has no jurisdiction over slaves or the question of slavery, but it is the duty and the right of the States themselves, and of the Counties within the States, to adopt and enforce, by their own power and in their own way, all needful police regulations.  Under the war-making power, Mr. Lincoln attempts to abolish slavery in the States; and under the war-making power the Confederate Congress attempts to protect slavery in the States.  It was a universally received axiom in the South, fourteen years ago, that the power to protect carried with it the power to control or abolish; and one of the main reasons why the old government was broken up was, that a portion of the Northern people threatened, through the congress, to assume jurisdiction of slavery in the States.

            Mr. Lincoln made an effort recently, in his emancipation proclamation, to induce the non-slaveholders of the South to believe that the war waged solely on account of negroes; and now, under a strange infatuation, the Congress of the South comes forward, and by an act discriminating between the slaveholder and non-slaveholder, gives color, if not confirmation to this belief thus attempted to be produced by our common enemy.

            The Constitution of the United States and of the Confederate States expressly provide against privileged classes among our people.  But, Gov. Brown, of Georgia, nullified a part of the first conscription law, and the result was-- a privileged class was constituted of the militia officers of the States; and now the Congress, disregarding the Constitution, the rights and duties of the States, and the views and feelings of the people, not only assumes control of slavery in the States, but creates another privileged class out of owners of a certain species of property.  Members of the Society of Friends, Dunkers, Nazarenes, and Mennonites, who are averse to war, and who had no agency in involving the country in bloodshed, are required to pay five hundred dollars each into the treasury as the price of their exemption; but the owner of twenty or more slaves is allowed to remain at home, to speculate, perhaps, upon the necessities of the army and the people, and is not required to contribute one cent to the treasury beyond his usual taxes.

            But we have no disposition to argue the question further.  Our only object is to enter our protest against this feature in the law, and having done so, we shall not allude to it again unless compelled to do so in reply to such strictures as this article may call forth.  We are for right, justice, and the Constitution, happen what may; and we intend to stand, at all hazards, by the people and by the great principles of political equality.


[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]

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