icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Online Collection

Jeff Davis' Proclamation.

At Montgomery, on Wednesday, Jeff Davis issued the following counter proclamation:

A proclamation by the president of the confederate states of American-- Whereas Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, has by proclamation announced his intention of invading this confederacy with an armed force, for the purpose of capturing its fortress and thereby subverting its independence and subjecting the free people thereof to the dominion of a foreign power; and whereas it has thus become the duty of this government to repel the threatened invasion, and defend the rights and liberties of the people by all the means which the laws of nations and the usages of civilized warfare place at its disposal, now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, president of the confederate states of America, do issue this my proclamation inviting all those who may desire, by armed service in private armed vessels on the high seas, to aid this government in resisting so wanton and wicked aggression, to make application for commissions or letters of marque and reprisal to be issued under the seal of these confederate states. And I do further notify all persons applying for letters of marque, to make a statement in writing, giving the name and a suitable description of the character, tunnage and force of the vessel, name of the place of residence of each owner concerned therein, and the intended number of crew, and to sign each statement and deliver the same to the secretary of state or collector of the port of entry of these confederate states, to be by him transmitted to the secretary of state. And I do further notify all applicants aforesaid, before any commission or letter of marque is issued to any vessel or the owner or the owners thereof, and the commander for the time being, they will be required to give bonds to the confederate states, with at least two responsible sureties not interested in such vessel, in the penal sum of $5,000, or if such vessel be provided with more than 150 men, then in the penal sum of $10,000, with the condition that the owners, officers, and crew who shall be employed on board such commissioned vessel, shall observe the laws of these confederate states, and the instructions given them for regulation of their conduct, that shall satisfy all damages done, contrary to the tenor thereof by such vessel during her commission, and deliver up the same when revoked by the president of the confederate states. And I do further specially enjoin on all persons, holding offices, civil or military, under the authority of the confederate states, that they be vigilant and zealous in discharge of the duties incident thereto; I do moreover solemnly exhort all good people of these confederate states, as they love their country, as they prize the blessings of free government, as they feel the wrongs of the past and those now threatened, in an aggravated form, by those whose enmity is more implacable because unprovoked, that they exert themselves in preserving order, in upholding all concern in maintaining the authority and efficacy of the laws, and in supporting and invigorating all the measures which may be adopted for the common defense, and by which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, we may hope for a speedy, just; and honorable peace. In testimony whereof I have set my hand and seal, this seventeenth day of April.


By the president-- ROBERT TOOMBS, Secretary of State.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
Contact us for information about using this image.

label levels:

In this proclamation Confederate President Jefferson Davis advertised for vessels willing to sail under "letters of marque." Letters of marque were a way for a government that had no real navy to create one from armed, private ships. A letter of marque allowed a shipowner to attack and seize enemy vessels with the agreement of his government. The Confederacy was forced to use this tactic because of what it had inherited. Although the new Confederate government had authorized the creation of a navy in February, 1861, in fact the Confederacy had only a tiny number of ships: five small vessels, four revenue cutters, three slavers, two privately owned coastal steamers, and an old side-wheeled steamboat, the Fulton. It had few major shipyards and only one foundry for the casting of naval guns. The Union on the other hand, had a huge shipbuilding capacity. On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln authorized the blockade that would eventually choke the Confederacy. Throughout the war the Confederacy operated a number of raiding vessels and blockade runners. These were modestly effective but were never able to provide enough of a difference to counter the increasingly effective Union blockade.


top of page

"Jeff Davis' Proclamation"

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Apr 22, 1861
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   9.0"
width   2.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L02.124

Look Closer icon My Collection icon Document Image icon Detailed info icon

ecard icon Send an e-Postcard of this object

See Also...

"A Proclamation For A Day Of Thanksgiving and Praise"

"The Traitor's Confederacy"

"Evacuation of Fort Sumter!"

"Southern and War Items"

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback