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In Their Own Words

March 04, 1865

Governor Brown’s Message on Money for Food

The following message from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown was read to the Georgia Senate, asking for more money to purchase corn for relief of Georgia citizens left destitute by the Civil War in the state.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Macon, March 3d, 1865. To the General Assembly: At the session in November, an appropriation of $800,000 was made to purchase and carry corn to the destitute in the counties that have been overrun by the enemy, and in counties where the crop failed on account of the extreme wet or dry weather. The average price of corn in the State, may now be set down at twelve to fifteen dollars per bushel. Add the cost of transportation, and the lowest estimate would be fifteen. The appropriation will purchase at present prices, a little over 50,000 bushels. This would not more than supply the three most needy counties in the State, if the corn could be purchased now. In two months from this time, the price may have increased one half. In my opinion the appropriation for this purpose should be at least two millions of dollars. In this connection, I beg leave again to remind the General Assembly, that without the power of impressment, it will be absolutely impossible for me to secure the corn. I have made dilligent efforts through agents, and find I cannot purchase enough to feed the State teams, and support the State Line in the field. I am informed by Maj. Moses, the Chief Confederate Commissary for the State, that agents will be allowed to purchase part of the surplus of bonded men, for the use of soldiers families. This will aid as far as that class is concerned, but will afford no relief to the large number of persons not soldiers families, now suffering for bread, in the sections of the State were all the supplies of the people have been destroyed by the enemy. As I have already informed the General Assembly, the appropriation of money cannot afford the necessary relief without the power to impress the provisions in the hands of those who will not sell their surplus for currency. Market value should be paid to every citizen, whose property is impressed, but those who have a surplus and refuse to sell at market value, while others are suffering, should be compelled to distribute all they can spare, at its value in currency. I wish the members of the General Assembly and their constituents, to understand distinctly, that the appropriation of money already made, is wholly inadequate for this purpose and that it is impossible for me to furnish the corn, without the power of impressment. If the Legislature adjourns without conferring the authority, it will leave me powerless to relieve hundreds of women and children from actual starvation. I also beg leave again to revert to the fact, that the military appropriation already made, is entirely insufficient. If the State pays none of the expense of the militia, it will take at least $3,000,000 more to support the State Line, provide the clothing necessary for the Georgia troops in service, and purchase and support the wagons and teams which the Quartermaster General must have, to enable him to do the military transportation, and haul the corn to the most destitute section. If these appropriations and the impressment power, are withheld, it will be necessary for me again to convene the General Assembly at an early day. JOSEPH E. BROWN.

Source: Journal of the Senate of the Extra Session of the General Assembly, of the State of Georgia, Convened by Proclamation of the Governor, at Macon, February 15th, 1865: Electronic Edition.