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son, the shape of a formal convention. But it ing from nine to eleven States of the Union, have was not deemed just by us to decline the ar- now, for more than twelve months, endeavored rangement on this ground, as little more than to maintain a blockade of three thousand miles ninety days had then elapsed since the arrival of coast. This blockade, kept up irregularly, but of our Commissioners in Europe, and neutral when enforced, enforced severely, has seriously nations were fairly entitled to a reasonable delay injured the trade and manufactures of the United in acting on a subject of so much importance, Kingdom. Thousands are now obliged to resort and which, from their point of view, presented to the poor rates for subsistence, owing to this difficulties that we, perhaps, did not fully ap- blockade. Yet Her Majesty's government has preciate. Certain it is that the action of this never sought to take advantage of the obvious government on the occasion, and its faithful imperfections of this blockade in order to declare performance of its own engagements, have been it ineffective. They have, to the loss and detrisuch as to entitle it to expect, on the part of ment of the British nation, scrupulously observed the who sought in their own interests a mu- the duties of Great Britain toward a friendly tual understanding the most scrupulous adher state." ence to their own promises. I feel constrained Again, on the twenty-second of September, to inform you, that in this expectation we have 1862, the same noble Earl asserted that the been disappointed, and that, not only have the United States were · very far indeed ” from bewernments which entered into these arrange- ing in “a condition to ask other nations to asDents yielded to the prohibition against com- sume that every port of the coasts of the so-styled merce with us, which has been dictated by the confederate States is effectively blockaded.” C'nited States, in defiance of the laws of nations, When, in view of these facts, of the obligations bat that this concession of their neutral rights, of the British nation to adhere to the pledge to our detriment, has, on more than one occa- made by their government at Paris in 1856, and sion, been claimed, in intercourse with our ene- renewed to this Confederacy in 1861, and of these mies, as an evidence of the friendly feeling to-repeated and explicit avowals of the imperfecyard them. A few extracts from the corre- tion, irregularity, and inefficiency of the pretendspondence of Her Majesty's Chief Secretary of ed blockade of our coast, I directed our CommisState for Foreign Affairs, will suffice to show sioner at London to call upon the British governmarked encouragement to the United States to ment to redeem its promise and to withhold its persevere in its paper blockade, and unmistak- moral aid and sanction from the flagrant violation able intimations that Her Majesty's government of public law committed by our enemies, who Tónld not contest its validity.
were informed that Her Majesty's government On the twenty-first of May, 1861, Earl Russell could not regard the blockade of the Southern pinted out to the United States Minister in Lon-ports as having been otherwise than “ “ practically dan that “the blockade might no doubt be made effective” in February, 1862, and that "the manefætive, considering the small number of har-ner in which it has since been enforced gives to bars on the Southern coast, even though the ex- neutral governments no excuse for asserting that tent of three thousand miles were comprehended the blockade has not been effectually maintained.” in terms of that blockade."
We were further informed, when we insisted that On the fourteenth of January, 1862, Her Majes- by the terms of agreement no blockade was to be ti's Minister in Washington communicated to considered effective unless "sufficient really to bis government that in extenuation of the bar- prevent access to our coast,” that the declaration barous attempt to destroy the port of Charleston of Paris was, in truth, directed against blockades by sinking a stone-fleet in the harbor, Mr. Sew- not sustained by any actual force, or sustained and had explained "that the Government of the by a notoriously inadequate force, such as the [nited States had, last spring, with a navy very occasional appearance of a man-of-war in the offittle prepared for so extensive an operation, un- ing, or the like. dertaken to blockade upward of three thousand It was impossible thai this mode of construing miles of coast. The Secretary of the Navy had an agreement, so as to make the terms mean alreported that he could stop up the large holes' most the reverse of what they conveyed, could by means of his ships ; but that he could not be considered otherwise than as a notification of stop up the 'small ones.' It has been found the refusal of the British government to remain necessary, therefore, to close some of the numer- bound by its agreement, or longer to respect his small inlets by sinking vessels in the those articles of the declaration of Paris, which channel."
had been repeatedly denounced by British statesOn the sixth of May, 1862, so far from claim- men, and had been characterized by Earl Russell inz the right of British subjects as neutrals to as very imprudent” and “ most unsatisfactory." trade with us as belligerents, and to disregard If any doubt remained of the motives by which the blockade on the ground of this explicit con- the British Ministry have been actuated in their sicion of our enemy of his inability to render it conduct, it would be completely dissipated by etective, Her Majesty's Secretary of State of the distinct avowals and explanations contained Foreign Affairs claimed credit with the United in the public speech recently made by Her MaStates for friendly action in respecting it. Iis jesty's Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In comLotriahip stated that "the United States Gov- menting on the remonstrances of this government Err, ment, on the allegation of a rebollion pervad-against the countenance given to an ineffective
blockade, the following language is used: “It is blockade of 1807, by an acquiescence in the Fedsaid we have, contrary to the declarations of eral illegal blockade of 1861. The most alarmParis, contrary to international law, permitted ing feature in this statement is its admission of the blockade of three thousand miles of American a just claim on the part of the United States to coast. It is quite true we did so, and the pre- require of Great Britain, during this war, a dissumable cause of complaint is quite true, that regard of the recognized principles of modern although the blockade is kept up by a sufficient public law, and of her own compacts, whenever number of ships, yet these ships were sent into any questionable conduct of Great Britain “in the United States navy in a hurry, and are ill former times,” can be cited as a precedent. It is fitted for the purpose, and did not keep up, so not inconsistent with respect and admiration for completely and effectively as was required, an the great people whose Government have given effective blockade.”
us this warning, to suggest that their history, This unequivocal confession of violation, both like that of mankind in general, offers excepof agreement with us and international law, is tional instances of indefensible conduct “in fordefended on grounds the validity of which we mer times,” and we may well deny the morality submit with confidence to the candid judgment of violating recent engagements through deferof mankind.
ence to the evil precedents of the past. These grounds are thus stated : “Still looking After defending, in the manner just stated, the at the law of nations, it was a blockade we as a course of the British government on the subject great belligerent power in former times, should of the blockade, Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary have acknowledged. We, ourselves, had a block- takes care to leave no doubt of the further purade of upward of two thousand miles, and it did pose of the British government to prevent our seem to me that we were bound in justice to the purchase of vessels in Great Britain, while supFederal States of America to acknowledge that plying our enemies with rifles and other muniblockade. But there was another reason which tions of war, and states the intention to apply to weighed with me. Our people were suffering Parliament for the furtherance of this design. severely for the want of that material which was He gives to the United States the assurance that the main staff of their industry, and it was a he will do in their favor not only every thing question of self-interest whether we should not that the law of nations requires, every thing that break the blockade. But in my opinion the men the present Foreign Enlistment act requires," but of England would have been for ever infamous if, that he will ask the sanction of Parliament “to for the sake of their own interest, they had vio- further measures that Her Majesty's ministers lated the law of nations and made war in con- may still add." This language is so unmistakjunction with these slaveholding States of Ameri- ably an official exposition of the policy adopted ca against the Federal States."
by the British government in relation to our afIn the second of these reasons our rights are fairs, that the duty imposed on me by the Connot involved; although it may be permitted to stitution, of giving you, from time to time, “inobserve that the conduct of governments has not formation of the state of the Confederacy," would heretofore, to my knowledge, been guided by the not have been performed if I had failed to place principle that it is infamous to assert their rights it distinctly before you. whenever the invasion of those rights creates se- I refer you for fuller details on this whole subvere suffering among their people and injuriously ject to the correspondence of the State Departaffects great interests. But the intimation that ment, which accompanies this Message. The relations with these States would be discreditable facts which I have bricily narrated are, I trust, because they are slaveholding, would probably sufficient to enable you to appreciate the true have been onnitted if the official personage who nature of the neutrality professed in this war. has published it to the world had remembered It is not in my power to apprise you to what exthat these States were, when colonies, made slave tent the government of France shares the views holding by the direct exercise of the power of so unreservedly avowed by that of Great Britain, Great Britain, whose dependencies they were, no published correspondence of the French govand whose interests in the slave-trade were then ernment on the subject having been received. supposed to require that her colonies should be No public protest nor opposition, however, has made slaveholding.
been made by Ilis Imperial Majesty against the But the other ground stated is of a very grave prohibition to trade with us, imposed on French character. It asserts that a violation of the law citizens by the paper blockade of the United of nations by Great Britain in 1807, when that States, although I have reason to believe that an Government declared a paper blockade of two unsuccessful attempt was made on his part to thousand miles of coast, (a violation then defend secure the assent of the British government to ed by her courts and jurists on the sole ground course of action more consonant with the dicthat her action was retaliatory,) affords a justifi- tates of public law and with the demands of cation for a similar outrage on neutral rights by justice toward us. the United States in 1861, for which no pallia- The partiality of Her Majesty's government in tion can be suggested ; and that Great Britain favor of our enemies has been further evinced in “is bound, in justice to the Federal States,” to the marked difference of its conduct on the submake return for the war waged against her by ject of the purchase of supplies by the two belthe United States in resistance of her illegal lligerents. This difference has been conspicuous
since the very commencement of the war. As hy the confidence and affection of its citizens, the early as the first May, 1861, the British Min- Confederacy has lacked no element which distinister in Washington was informed by the Secre- guishes an independent nation, according to the tary of State of the United States that he had principles of public law. Its legislative, execusent agents to England, and that others would tive, and judicial departments, each in its sphere, go to France, to purchase arms, and this fact was have performed their appropriate functions with communicated to the British Foreign Office, which a regularity as undisturbed as in a time of prointerposed no objection. Yet, in October of the found peace, and the whole energies of the peosame year, Earl Russell entertained the com- ple have been developed in the organization of plaint of the United States Minister in London, vast armies, while their rights and liberties have that the confederate States were importing con- rested secure under the protection of the courts traband of war from the island of Nassau, di- of justice. This Confederacy is either independrected inquiry into the matter, and obtained a ent or it is a dependency of the United States, report from the authorities of the island deny. for no other earthly power claims the right to ing the allegations, which report was inclosed to govern it. Without one historic fact on which Mr. Adams, and received by him as satisfactory the pretension can rest, without one line or word evidence to dissipate suspicion naturally thrown of treaty or covenant which can give color to title, upon the authorities of Nassau by that unwar- the United States having asserted, and the Brirantable act." So, too, when the confederate tish government has chosen to concede, that these government purchased in Great Britain, as a sovereign States are dependencies of the govneutral country, and with strict observance both ernment which is administered at Washington. of the law of nations and the municipal law of Great Britain has, accordingly, entertained with Great Britain,) vessels which were subsequently that Government the closest and most intimate armed and commissioned as vessels of war, after relations, while refusing on its demand ordinary they had been far removed from British waters, amicable intercourse with us, and has, under arthe British government, in violation of its own rangements made with the other nations of Eulaws and in deference to the importunate de- rope, not only denied our just claim of admission mands of the United States, made an ineffectual into the family of nations, but interposed a passattempt to seize one vessel, and did actually seize ive though effectual bar to the acknowledgment and detain another which touched at the island of her rights by other powers. So soon as it had of Nassau, on her way to a confederate port, and become apparent, by the declarations of the Brisubjected her to an unfounded prosecution at the tish Minister, in the debates of the British Parvery time when cargoes of munitions of warliament in July last, that Her Majesty's governwere being openly shipped from British ports to ment was determined to persist indefinitely in a New-York, to be used in warfare against us. course of policy which, under professions of neuEven now the public journals bring intelligence trality, had become subservient to the designs that the British government has ordered the of our enemy, I felt it my duty to recall the comseizure, in a British port, of two vessels, on the missioners formerly accredited to that court, and suspicion that they may have been sold to this the correspondence on the subject is submitted government, and that they may be hereafter to you. armed and equipped in our service, while British It is due to you and to our country that this subjects are engaged in Ireland by tens of thou- full statement should be made of the just grounds sands to proceed to the United States for war- which exist for dissatisfaction with the conduct fare against the Confederacy, in defiance both of of the British government. I am well aware that the law of nations and of the express terms of we are unfortunately without adequate remedy the British statutes, and are transported in Bri- for the injustice under which we have suffered at tish ships, without an effort at concealment, to the hands of a powerful nation, at a juncture the ports of the United States, there to be armed when our entire resources are absorbed in the with rifles imported from Great Britain, and to defence of our lives, liberties, and independence, be employed against our people in a war for con- against an enemy possessed of greatly superior quest. No royal prerogative is .invoked, no ex- numbers and material resources. Claiming no ecutive interference is interposed against this favor, desiring no aid, conscious of our own abil. flagrant breach of municipal and internationality to defend our own rights, against the utmost law, on the part of our enemies, while strained efforts of an infuriate foe, we had thought it not constructions are placed on existing statutes, extravagant to expect that assistance would be new enactments proposed and questionable ex. withheld from our enemies, and that the conduct pedients devised, for precluding the possibility of foreign nations would be marked by a genuine of purchase, by this government, of vessels that impartiality between the belligerents.
It was are useless for belligerent purposes, unless here- not supposed that a professed neutrality would after armed and equipped outside of the neutral be so conducted as to justify the Foreign Secrejurisdiction of Great Britain.
tary of the British nation in explaining, in corFor nearly three years this government has respondence with our enemy, how " the imparexercised unquestioned jurisdiction over many tial observance of neutral obligations by Her millions of willing and united people. It has Majesty's government has thus been exceedingly met and defeated vast armies of invaders, who advantageous to the cause of the more powerful have in vain sought its subversion. Supported l of the two contending parties.” The British
government may deem this war a favorable occa- selves to our judgment as more just, more husion for establishing, by the temporary sacrifice mane, and more consonant with modern civilizaof their neutral rights, a precedent which shall tion than those belligerent pretensions which justify the future exercise of those extreme bel- great naval powers have heretofore sought to inligerent pretensions that their naval power ren-troduce into the maritime code. To forego our ders so formidable. The opportunity for obtain- undeniable right to the exercise of those pretening the tacit assent of European governments to a sions is a policy higher, worthier of us and our line of conduct which ignores the obligations of cause than to revoke our alhesion to principles the declaration of Paris, and treats that instru- that we approve. Let our hope for redress rest ment rather as a theoretical exposition of princi- rather on a returning sense of justice which can. ples than a binding agreement, may be consid- not fail to awaken a great people to the consciousered by the British Ministry as justifying them ness that the war in which we are engaged ought in seeking a great advantage for their own coun- rather to be made a reason for forbearance of adtry at the expense of ours. But we cannot per- vantage than an occasion for the unfriendly conmit, without protest, the assertion that interna- duct of which we make just complaint. tional law or morals regard as “impartial neutral- The events of the last year have produced imity” conduct avowed to be “exceedingly advan-portant changes in the condition of our Southern tageous to one of the belligerents.
neighbor. The occupation of the capital of MexI have stated that we are without adequate ico by the French army, and the establishment remedy against the injustice under which we suf- of a provisional government, followed by a radfer. There are but two measures that seem ap- ical change in the constitution of the country, plicable to the present condition of our relations have excited lively interest. Although preferwith neutral powers. One is, to imitate the ring our own government and institutions to wrong of which we complain, to retaliate by the those of other countries, we can have no dispodeclaration of a paper blockade of the coast of sition to contest the exercise, by them, of the the United States, and to capture all neutral same right of self-government which we assert vessels trading with their ports that our cruisers for ourselves. If the Mexican people prefer a can intercept on the high seas. This measure I monarchy to a republic, it is our plain duty to cannot recommend. It is true that, in so doing, cheerfully acquiesce in their decision, and to we should but follow the precedents set by Great evince a sincere an friendly interest in their Britain and France in the Berlin and Milan de- prosperity. If, however, the Mexicans prefer crees, and the British Orders in Council at the be- maintaining their former institutions, we have ginning of the present century. But it must be no reason to apprehend any obstacle to the free remembered that we, ourselves, protested against exercise of their choice. The Emperor of the those very measures as signal violations of the French has solemnly disclaimed any purpose to law of nations, and declared the attempts to ex- impose on Mexico a form of government not accuse them, on the ground of their being retal- ceptable to the nation; and the eminent person. iatory, utterly insignificant. Those blockades age to whom the throne has been tendered deare now quoted by writers on public law as a clines its acceptance, unless the offer be sancstanding reproach on the good name of the na- tioned by the suffrages of the people. In either tions who were betrayed by temporary exaspera- event, therefore, we may confidently expect the tion into wrong-doing, and ought to be regarded continuance of those peaceful relations which rather as errors to be avoided than as examples have been maintained on the frontier, and even to be followed.
a large development of the commerce already The other measure is not open to this objec- existing to the mutual advantage of the two tion. The second article of the declaration of countries. Paris, which provides “that the neutral flag cov- It has been found necessary, since your aders enemy's goods, with the exception of contra-journment, to take action on the subject of cerband of war," was a new concession by belliger- tain foreign consuls within the Confederacy. The ents in favor of neutrals, and not simply the nature of this action, and the reasons on which enunciation of an acknowledged preëxisting rule, it was based, are so fully exhibited in the corlike the fourth article, which referred to block- respondence of the State department, which is ades. To this concession we bound ourselves by transmitted to you, that no additional comment the convention with Great Britain and France, is required. which took the shape of the resolutions adopted In connection with this subject of our relations by your predecessors on the thirteenth of Au- with foreign countries, it is deemed opportune to
The consideration tendered us for communicate my views in reference to the treathat concession has been withheld. We have, ties made by the Government of the United therefore, the undeniable right to refuse longer States at a date anterior to our separation, and to remain bound by a contract which the other which were consequently binding on us as well party refuses to fulfil. But we should not forget as on foreign powers, when the separation took that war is but temporary, and that we desire effect. It was partly with a view to entering that peace should be permanent. The future into such arrangements as the change in our policy of the Confederacy must ever be to uphold government had made necessary, that we felt it neutral rights to their full extent. The princi- our duty to send commissioners abroad, for the ples of the declaration of Paris commend them. I purpose of entering into the negotiations proper
to fix the relative rights and obligations of the of July, 1861, the President of the United States parties to those treaties. As this tender on our had developed, in his message, the purpose “ to part has been declined, as foreign nations have make the contest a short and decisive one," and refused us the benefit of the treaties to which had called on Congress for four hundred thouwe were parties, they certainly have ceased to sand men, and four hundred millions of dollars. be binding on us; and, in my opinion, our rela- The Congress had exceeded the Executive retions with European nations are, therefore, now commendation, and had authorized the levy of controlled exclusively by the general rules of half a million of volunteers, besides largely inthe law of nations. It is proper to add, that creasing the regular land and naval forces of the these remarks are intended to apply solely to United States. The necessity thus first became treaty obligations toward foreign governments, urgent that a financial scheme should be devised and have no reference to rights of individuals. on a basis sufficiently large for the vast propor
tions of the contest with which we were threat
ened. Knowing that the struggle, instead of The state of the public finances is such as to being "short and decisive," would be indefinite demand your earliest and most earnest attention. in duration, and could only end when the United I need hardly say that a prompt and efficacious States should awaken from their delusion of remedy for the present condition of the currency conquest, a permanent system was required, is necessary to the successful performance of the fully adapted to the great exigencies before us. functions of government. Fortunately, the re- The plan devised by Congress, at that time, sources of our country are so ample, and the was based on the theory of issuing treasury spirit of the people so devoted to its cause, that notes, convertible, at the pleasure of the holder, they are ready to make any necessary contri- into eight per cent bonds, the interest of which bution. Relief is thus entirely within our reach, was to be payable in coin ; and it was correctly if we have the wisdom to legislate in such man- assumed that any tendency to depreciation that ner as to render available the means at our dis- might arise from over-issue of the currency would posal.
be checked by the constant exercise of the holdAt the commencement of the war, we were er's right to fund the notes at a liberal interest, far from anticipating the magnitude and duration payable in specie. This system depended for of the struggle in which we were engaged. The success on the continued ability of government most sagacious foresight could not have predict to pay the interest in specie; and means were, ed that the passions of the Northern people therefore, provided for that purpose in the law would lead them blindly to the sacrifice of life, authorizing the issues. An internal tax, termed treasure, and liberty, in so vain a hope as that a war-tax, was levied, the proceeds of which, toof subjugating thirteen independent States, in-gether with the revenue from imports, were habited by many millions of people, whose birth-deemed sufficient for the object designed. This right of freedom is dearer to them than life. A scheme required, for its operation, that our comlong exemption from direct taxation by the gen- merce with foreign nations should not be suseral government had created an aversion to its pended. It was not to be anticipated that such raising revenue by any other means than by suspension would be permitted otherwise than duties on imports, and it was supposed that by an effective blockade; and it was absurd to these duties would be ample for current peace suppose that a blockade “sufficient really to expenditures, while the means for conducting prevent access” to our entire coast, could be the war could be raised almost exclusively by maintained. the use of the public credit.
We had the means, therefore, (if neutral naThe first action of the provisional Congress tions had not combined to aid our enemies by was therefore confined to passing a tariff law, the sanction of an illegal prohibition on their and to raising a sum of fifteen millions of dollars commerce,) to secure the receipt into the treasuby loan, with a pledge of a small export duty ry of coin sufficient to pay the interest on the on cotton, to provide for the redemption of the bonds, and thus maintain the treasury notes at debt.
rates nearly equal to par in specie. So long as At its second session, war was declared to the interest continued to be thus paid with the exist between the Confederacy and the United reserve of coin preexisting in our country, expeStates, and provision was m for the issue ofrience sustained the expectations of those who twenty millions of dollars in treasury notes, and devised the system. Thus on the first of the for borrowing thirty millions of dollars on bonds. following December, coin had only reached a preThe tariff was revised, and preparatory measures mium of about twenty per cent, although it had taken to enable the Congress to levy internal already become apparent that the commerce of taxation at its succeeding session. These laws the country was threatened with permanent suswere passed in May, and the States of Virginia, pension by reason of the conduct of neutral naNorth-Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, hav- tions, and that the necessary result must be the ing joined the Confederacy, the Congress ad- exhaustion of our specie reserve. Wheat, in the journed to meet in the city of Richmond in the beginning of the year 1862, was selling at one following month of July.
dollar and thirty cents per bushel, not exceeding, Prior to the assembling of your predecessors therefore, its average price in time of peace. The in Richmond, at their third session, near the end other agricultural products of the country were