Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

by John Beauchamp Jones

            FEBRUARY 21ST.—Cold, clear, and calm, but moderating.

            Mr. Benjamin sent over, this morning, extracts from dispatches received from his commercial agent in London, dated December 26th and January 16th, recommending, what had already been suggested by Mr. McRae, in Paris, a government monopoly in the export of cotton, and in the importation of necessaries, etc.

            This measure has already been adopted by Congress, which clearly shows that the President can have any measure passed he pleases; and this is a good one.

            So complete is the Executive master of the “situation,” that, in advance of the action of Congress on the Currency bill, the Secretary of the Treasury had prepared plates, etc. for the new issue of notes before the bill passed calling in the old.

            Some forty of the members of the Congress just ended failed to be re-elected, and of these a large proportion are already seeking office or exemption.

            The fear is now, that, from a plethora of paper money, we shall soon be without a sufficiency for a circulating medium. There are $750,000,000 in circulation; and the tax bills, etc. will call in, it is estimated, $800,000,000! Well, I am willing to abide the result. Speculators have had their day; and it will be hoped we shall have a season of low prices, if scarcity of money always reduces prices. There are grave lessons for our edification daily arising in such times as these.

            I know my ribs stick out, being covered by skin only, for the want of sufficient food; and this is the case with many thousands of non-producers, while there is enough for all, if it were equally distributed.

            The Secretary of War has nothing new from Gen. Polk; and Sherman is supposed to be still at Meridian.

            There is war between Gen. Winder and Mr. Ould, agent for exchange of prisoners, about the custody and distribution to prisoners, Federal and Confederate. It appears that parents, etc. writing to our prisoners in the enemy’s country, for want of three cent stamps, are in the habit of inclosing five or ten cent pieces, and the perquisites of the office amounts to several hundred dollars per month—and the struggle is really between the clerks in the two offices. A Mr. Higgens, from Maryland, is in Winder’s office, and has got the general to propose to the Secretary that he shall have the exclusive handling of the letters; but Mr. Ould, it appears, detected a letter, of an alleged treasonable character, on its way to the enemy’s country, written by this Higgens, and reported it to the Secretary. But as the Secretary was much absorbed, and as Winder will indorse Higgens, it is doubtful how the contest for the perquisites will terminate.

            The Secretary was aroused yesterday. The cold weather burst the water-pipe in his office, or over it, and drove him off to the Spottswood Hotel.

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