Foreign and Colonial IntelligenceThe Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1293, p. 622.
December 24, 1864
The United States Congress reassembled at Washington on the 5th inst., but the President's Message was not communicated until the 6th.
Mr. Lincoln declares that no attempts to negotiate with the South can result in any good, as the South will not be satisfied with any conditions but a severance of the Union, which the North cannot and will not grant. The Southerners can, he adds, obtain peace whenever they choose by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority. He will retract nothing that he has said regarding slavery, and will not modify his emancipation proclamation. He recommends Congress to pass a law abolishing slavery for ever throughout the United States and their territories. The foreign affairs of the United States are in a condition which is reasonably satisfactory, though unforeseen political difficulties have arisen in British and Brazilian ports, and on the northern frontier of the Union, which have required a just and conciliatory spirit on the part of the United States and the nations interested. He deems it expedient, in consequence of recent events on the northern frontier, that the Federal cruisers on the great Lakes shall be increased, and that, therefore, the six months' notice stipulated by treaty be given to Great Britain. During the campaign, the lines and positions previously occupied by the Federal armies have been maintained, and further advances have been made. The navy comprises 670 vessels, and have, during the year, captured 324 vessels. The finances have been successfully administered; but further taxation is expedient, and the Federal debt, which amounted to 1,740,000,000 dols. on the 1st of July last, will probably be increased 500,000,000 dols. by another year of war. The emancipation legislation of Maryland is mentioned with approbation; and the fact that Louisiana and Arkansas have formed a loyal State Government is also alluded to. Such is the substance of President Lincoln's Message.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury says that the expenses to be provided for during the current year, including the interest of the public debt, amount to 1,400,000,000 dols. The customs, internal revenue, and the miscellaneous sources are estimated to produce 780,000,000 dols.; leaving a balance of 620,000,000 dols. to be provided for. Further measures reduce this increase of the public debt during the current year to 482,000,000 dols. It is estimated that the pubic debt on July 1, 1865, will be 2,223,000,000 dols. This expenditure in the next fiscal year is estimated at 1,168,000,000 dols., and the receipts at 396,000,000 dols. The balance in the treasury is 350,000,000 dols., leaving 422,000,000 dols. to he provided for by loans. Mr. Fessenden is opposed to the negotiation of a foreign loan, and will not resort to a further issue of legal tender notes as long as the people support the war by loans. The amount of interest payable in gold by the Government is 56,000,000 dols.
A Washington despatch, dated the 6th inst., published in the Boston papers, says:--"The President's Message seems to be approved by both Radical and Conservative Republicans in Congress. The reading in the house was accompanied by enthusiastic demonstrations."
In the House of Representatives notices have been given of various bills, including one to regulate the value of money, another to prohibit the exportation of gold or silver coin, and another to prevent gold and silver coin and bullion from being paid or accepted for greater value than their real current value.
Lord Lyons took his leave of the President and Secretary Seward on the 6th inst., previously to his contemplated visit to England. Mr. J. Hume Burnley will have charge of the British Legation during the absence of Lord Lyons.
Ex-Secretary Chase has been nominated and confirmed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
General Sherman, with a good deal of hard fighting, had passed Millen, which he was unable to take, and was supposed to be making for Darien. The Southern papers say that should he succeed in reaching the coast it will be with the loss of half his army.
The Federal General Thomas had concentrated his forces within Nashville in anticipation of the attack by General Hood, who was erecting breastworks before the city.
The Federals under General Burbridge had evacuated Cumberland Gap, and were reported to be advancing against Breckenridge. The Southern accounts assert that he was retreating to Knoxville.
No movement of importance is reported from the army of the Potomac.
In the Shenandoah Valley a portion of General Early's cavalry, under General Rosser, had been successful in capturing two of the Federal forts and destroying a large amount of stores, besides capturing many prisoners.
The New York Chamber of Commerce has officially denied that it ever offered a reward of any kind for the destruction of the Florida.