The Sequestration Act
Security and Protection of the Confederate Citizen


     On the heels of declaring the existence of a state of war with the United States Government, the Third Confederate Congress was quick to resolve several acts in protecting itself from the hostilities that had been expected from the promises of the presidency which caused them to finally act on withdrawing themselves from the Union. Among these had been the action of sequestrating the estates, properties and effects of all alien enemies for the indemnity of citizens of the Confederate States and all persons aiding in the existing war against the United States of America.

     The act drew the line between those still partial to the central government, living and occupying land and properties, reclaiming them for the true citizen of the South on or after May 21, 1861; when Richmond officially became the national capitol of those seceded. There was legal authority to extend such action to any property within a state, of whom had since become a member of the Confederacy, should the property still hold a lien upon it, or extend to such stocks or securities of the Confederate Government or by any states of that Confederacy held or owned by any such alien enemy. Although sympathies ran strong in the border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, the District of Columbia, and territories of New Mexico, Arizona and the Indian lands south of Kansas; these lands were exempt with the exception of those citizens who may commit hostile acts against the Confederate States in an effort to aid those of her enemies.

     Congress had asked the immediate assistance of the citizenry to report to those officers charged with the execution of this law any lands, tenements, or hereditaments, goods and chattels, rights and credits within the Confederacy, enjoyed and held by those who were alien enemies to their government. Accountability of all properties held or controlled by attorney, agent, former partner or trustee required them to render an account to the receiver's of such properties and if practicable place such in their hands and acquitting themselves of all responsibility to it. Anyone willfully failing to give account was deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor; and upon indictment and conviction could be fined up to five thousand dollars and or as much as six months imprisonment.

     Under the prosecution of such an act, the states agreed to place the grand juries in charge of passing judgment for the receivership, and that all judges within the borders of the new laid government to support those matters empowered by them. Each jurisdiction appointed a receiver to take hold of such property and required the receiver to give a bond in such penalty that the judge may deem sufficient as a condition that he will diligently and faithfully carry out the duties imposed by him according to the law.

     Should the judge deem the district in which he presides to be too large or burdensome for the appointed receiver, authority was given the court to divide the district down further and appoint additional receivers to the properties within these areas to ensure the transfers were being effectually resigned. All who received commission by these judges would give oath in writing of their faithfulness to perform their duties according to the law.

     All debtors of properties shall not fall under the proviso unless the rents or mortgages are or have been paid to the Confederate States since the 21st of May. The interests would therefore fall into the hands of the receiver when due. Those claiming no allegiance to the seceded states would lose all control of their property or estates upon seizure, but still maintained the right to be heard by the court system, being labeled the defendant in such matters.

     Once the properties passed the respective hearing for sequestration the court appointed a day of settlement, published for thirty days within the local newspaper, and the district attorney would be responsible to represent the government in matters of settlement to be merely provisional until the final settlement of the court, which could be impeached or reversed within a twenty four month period for fraud.

     All settlements of the accounts of receivers shall be duly recorded and a copy thereof provided to the Confederate Treasury Department within ten days of judgment. The monies appropriated by the receiver shall be turned over within five days and any failure to have not done so would cause them to liability for suit against their bond. Any receivers caught embezzling monies under this act would be subject to indictment and if found guilty in a court of law sentenced to confinement at hard labor for no less than six months or no more than five years, and fined double the amount of money embezzled.
     Furthermore the President of the Confederate States was duly authorized to appoint three discreet commissioners, schooled in the law to sit and preside over claims made upon them by the people aiding the Confederacy in the war against the United States who may allege they've been put to a loss as a result of any act of the United States Government to seize, condemn, or confiscate their property; and with sufficient evidence to the claim, whenever Congress authorized it, the money shall be paid to the claimant from a reserve the Treasury derived from sequestration under this act. Each of these three commissioners would receive an annual salary of $2,500 for their legal expertise in hearing such cases.

     With the borders of two belligerents separated by none other than rivers and survey lines, the newly established permanent government took measures to not only wage war against those mounting large armies against them, but endeavored to protect the southern citizen, property owners, from those eager to take charge of property no longer granted as a result of the war. The southern government set out to protect its own citizen from the cruelty of war and all that was likely to follow along with it.




Aldie Daniel Moran
© 2006

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwars.net