August 30, 1862, The Charleston Mercury
We are pleased to see a decided improvement in the tone of this body, and a disposition to represent the views and feelings of the constituencies.
The abolishment of the rule to go into secret session by a mere seconded motion and the requirement of a majority vote, is an important step in the right direction. We trust the people will now be furnished with a daily insight into the conduct of their representatives, and will be allowed to judge of the wisdom or folly with which their affairs are conducted in this important branch of the Government.
Our readers will perceive, too, a desire to infuse vigor into the different departments of the Government by giving voice to the public opinion of the Southern people in praise and in censure. Hitherto a false delicacy has existed which sacrificed the lives and property of the country, and endangered the cause, to a mawkish sentiment. A Spartan youth, we are told, allowed a fox concealed under his garment to tear out his bowels rather than expose his possession of the animal. We have patiently and without remonstrance submitted to feebleness and incompetency in the highest and most important offices in the government, and consequent worthlessness pervading whole departments. The House, we see, is pushing investigations into prevalent evils and their causes. As one instance of this our readers will perceive that, on a motion to indefinitely postpone Mr. FOOTE’S resolution, that the Hon. S.R. MALLORY, Secretary of the Navy, does not possess the confidence of Congress or the country, the result of the vote was forty-seven to forty-one. On motion of Mr. MALLORY’S […..] management of naval affairs has been ordered. We trust a white-washing committee is not to be the result, and that Mr. Speaker BOCOCK will appoint men who, in spite of Executive powers or favors, will feel their responsibility to the people and do their duty. Our own impression in this matter is, that, for some time after the formation of the Confederate Government and the beginning of the war, the Administration did not comprehend the necessity of having any navy at all, held the opinion that to build or buy a navy would be a waste of money, or could not be afforded, and had no idea of getting ships and gunboats, until their eyes were opened by emergencies of a very disastrous character. The country is decidedly of opinion that the present Secretary of the Navy has not shown enterprise in getting vessels from abroad, or promptness and energy in employing the resources of the South in procuring what we so much need, and for the want of which we have already suffered so greatly. His latter efforts, we trust, will produce some fruits; but we are very much, and unnecessarily, behind-hand in regard to a navy. We do not now make or even import the engines proper for our naval uses. Let Congress sift these matters through competent men, and expose incapacity. Then the life and vigor proper to a Republican Confederacy will be likely to be developed, and the right men be put in the right places. The people are awake.