Page images
PDF
EPUB

practically without support. We shall, of course, be able safely to raise or modify the blockade as soon as we resume possession of the ports, and shall desire to do so. If our expectations shall prove too sanguine, we shall then consider how to favor commerce without danger to the national cause.

Fourthly. The prosecution and end of the civil war.

It has seemed slow and discouraging only because all parties accustomed to peace at home and abroad, and more or less dependent on American productions, commerce and consumption, demanded that it should be brought to an end without allowing time and preparation. The time, however, has been gained, and the preparation has been made, and its satisfactory results are already known to the world. Let the European states acknowledge these results, and concede now to the Union half as much toleration as they have practically, though unintentionally, shown to disunion, and the civil war will come to an end at once. The insurgents would be without means, without credit, and without power. Loyalty would resume sway in the insurrectionary States in place of treason, and the peace of the world would be restored. These reflections appear to me to be worthy the consideration of France. It seems to us, indeed, that France would consult her own true political interest by considering them; for government in France can stand on no other foundation than the democratic principle, while that principle must be surrendered as hopeless throughout the world if it be allowed to fail on this continent. The material interest of France counsels the consideration of these suggestions. For France will be prosperous only when the United States are united and at peace, and therefore also prosperous. I am aware that I have presented in this paper some facts and some thoughts contained in previous despatches, but I have thought it not unprofitable to bring the discussion of the subjects involved into a form in which it may be submitted to Mr. Thouvenel. You will show him this paper, and give him a copy if he shall desire it. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

SEW. WILLIAM L. Dayton, Esq., fc., sc., 8c.

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

[Extract.] No. 117.)

PARIS, February 21, 1862. SIR: A copy of your confidential despatch to Mr. Adams, No. 177, was received yesterday.

I sincerely hope that the expectations therein 'referred to may be realized. It so happens that the night before your despatch was received I had ventured, on my own responsibility, to assure the Emperor that bad roads only had prevented an advance of our army in the west. He understands that difficulty perfectly, as you will have learned from one of my late despatches.

It may not be amiss to state to you that I have been informed that Mr. Rost, one of the southern commissioners, went recently to Spain, and is now there, I presume. I simply telegraphed the fact to Mr. Perry, chargé, &c. Mr. Slidell, the other commissioner, with his family, is here, though I have not seen them.

*

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WM. L. DAYTON.

His Excellency William H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State, &c., &c., fc.

[ocr errors][merged small]

No. 120.]

PARIS, February 27, 1862. Sir: Your despatch No. 109 encloses a copy of Mr. Thouvenel's note to you of the 19th of January, 1862, and your reply of the 7th of February, 1862.

Both of these papers are in the best tone and spirit, and I confess I feel now and have felt (since the address of the Emperor in opening the Chambers) in the best hopes and spirits for the future. A speech just delivered in the French senate by M. Billault, minister without portfolio, and herewith inclosed, is most satisfactory as respects American affairs. These ministers, it is said, represent the Emperor on the floor, and are understood to express his views and the views of the government. This speech, I am informed, is universally regarded as closing, for the present, all hopes on the part of the secessionists of France's' interfering to break the blockade. M. Billault, you will recollect, was, last summer, minister of foreign affairs ad interim. I think I can see from the British press how this thing has worked itself out. England and France have been coquetting a little with each other on this question. We have had what seemed to be the most reliable assurances from England that the Emperor was urging them to interfere. In the meantime, the British press was urging France to interfere; it was giving out that the blockade was a paper blockade, and the south should be recognized; thus working France and themselves up to the point of, at least, a joint interference. Then came the Emperor's address; it was not what they expected. They said that just before its delivery "the switch had been turned off," and forthwith the London Times and other portions of the English press ran off along with it. Now, all hands seem opposed to interference. How long this will last no human power can tell. If, in the midst of our successes at home and abroad, some reasonable hope could be given of opening two or three cotton ports, it would greatly mollify the feelings of that class of persons abroad who constantly agitate these questions against us. And I cannot help thinking that (excluding things contraband) the trade would not seriously affect our interests. I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,

WM. L. DAYTON. His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State, Sc., fr., sc.

Speech of M. Billault.

M. BILLAULT, (minister without portfolio.) The government is anxious to clearly make known its sentiments on another point mooted by the Marquis de Boissy. . When on the other side of the channel a member of the English chambers, not sharing in the feelings of his neighbors and of his colleagues, makes by chance a violent motion against our country, French feelings suffer from it, and it is not without emotion that the echo of such a discussion is heard on this side of the Strait. The reason is, that the two great nations are proud and susceptible on what touches their honor. Expressions of hatred exchanged from one tribune to the other are most objectionable. How can any one endeavor to revive feelings of hatred when the Emperor's policy is based on conciliation? The government, without forgetting the reminis cences and lessons of the past, and instead of allowing itself to be led away

by savage rancor, has adopted a conciliatory and pacific policy, under the shelter of which it can proceed in the path of ameliorations which constitute the progress of the world. (Hear, hear.) Instead of recalling the memory of Waterloo, in order to revive hatred, it is wiser to think of Italy wrested from the yoke of Austria, of Savoy again become French, of Belgium and of Holland separated and constituted in a state of neutrality. It would also be much more desirable to admit that with the alliance of a great country important results might be hoped for. A good accord between the cabinets cannot but be advantageous. The Emperor does not fear the revival of old reminiscences, because they are not applicable to him, but the expressions which the senate has heard are not of the present age, nor are they good policy. The two great states may differ on certain points, and may not completely pursue the same object. All nations have not the same wants and the same instincts. Some require a large amount of material profits and advantages, while others desire more grandeur and more glory. We went into the extreme east, and shed the blood of France to there represent the spirit of religion, and plant that cross which is the symbol both of the empire and of civilization. Why, however, should the two powers be reproached for the qualities peculiar to them-qualities which impel England to seek elements for her commerce, and France for her glory? (Approba-. tion.) As to America, France will never forget the bonds of kindness which unite her to the United States. History points out to her that war with them is impossible, but that does not prevent her from being pained at seeing the children of the same people destroying each other and their common country. The government has recommended and practiced neutrality. It would not allow events to compromise the principles which it defended and made prevail in 1856 in the congress of Paris, but it feels the strongest friendship towards the United States, and cannot comprehend how any one could wish to impel it to a combination which would have for object to force an entrance into the southern ports in order to load cotton. On the part of France such conduct would be madness, and England, whose interests are more deeply engaged in the question, and is now on good terms with the United States, would not venture on a line of policy which is not that of France, and to which the Emperor would not lend himself. (Approbation.)

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.

No. 118.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, February 27, 1862. SIR: Your despatch of February 3 (No. 110) has been received.

It suggests the expediency of our permitting the passage of letters purely commercial, and not tending to the violation of the blockade, between French merchants and their correspondents in New Orleans.

Mr. Mercier had, as you have recently been informed, already submitted Mr. Thouvenel's wishes to me. We have felt a strong desire, if possible, to accede to this proposition. But it would be attended by many and great embarrassments. Equal privileges must be given to all other foreign merchants, and, of course, to our own merchants. The privilege must be extended, of course, beyond New Orleans, to all other marts in the insurrectionary region. It would be very difficult to perfect details for such a proceeding. These considerations have not been regarded as conclusive against it, but they have been sufficient to induce hesitation upon it until we see whether, indeed, the complaint cannot be removed in another and better way.

You see our army and our fleet at Cairo ; you see that another army and another fleet are behind Columbus, which alone is relied upon to close the Mississippi against us on the north. Though you may not see it, another army and another fleet are actually on the way, by sea, to New Orleans. I have submitted these matters to Mr. Mercier, with an intimation of our expectations soon to be in occupation of New Orleans. I have said to him that we will revert to the subject if our operations shall prove unsuccessful or be unreasonably dilatory. He has probably submitted these facts to Mr. Thouvenel. It will do, however, no harm for you to communicate them to him. obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. WILLIAM L. Dayton, Esq., 8c., f., fc.

I am,

sir, your

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.

No. 123.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, March 8, 1862. Sir: Your despatch of February 12 (No. 112) has been received. Surely all Europe ought to unite with us in establishing a telegraphic oceanic conmunication.

You very ably discuss the question of what is an effective blockade, while you suggest to me the desirableness of evidence to prove the efficiency of the one we have established.

We cannot know how many and what vessels succeed in running the blockade, and without this information statistics of the vessels prevented from doing so would be almost valueless. But the true test of the efficiency of the blockade will be found in its results. Cotton commands a price in Manchester, and in Rouen, and Lowell, four times greater than in New Orleans; salt, a price ten times higher in Charleston than in Liverpool. Gold is worth fifty per cent. more in Richmond than in New York. Notwithstanding the great outlay of the insurgents in Europe for arms, equipments, and clothing, in addition to their own boasted manufactures, the prisoners we take are wretchedly armed and clothed. Passengers from the insurgent States only escape into neutral States across overland barriers. Judged by this test of results, I am satisfied that there was never a more effective blockade. We are nevertheless very desirous to relieve the commerce of the world from our blockade, and to restore it to its natural and customary freedom. What do we wait for before doing this, but that the insurrection shall cease? What keeps the insurrection alive? Nothing, in my judgment, but the treatment of the insurgents as lawful belligerents by the maritime powers, utterly powerless as the former are to do any injury to foreign states. Their treatment as belligerents, while they are surrounded and hemmed within a small portion of the United States by the Union armies and navies, is believed to be without precedent as it is without necessity. Beside the commercial embarrassments which result from it, the United States are kept in continual and often unpleasant and anxious debate with maritime powers whose sympathies cannot but be with them, because their interests are identical with those of our own country.

You will have noticed our successful advance down the Mississippi and along its banks. Next week we shall ascertain the strength of the obstructions at Memphis. After passing that port the river will be entirely open to us to New Orleans. I suppose I hazard nothing of publicity here by in

forming you that General Butler, with an adequate land force, and Captain Porter, with a fleet, are already in motion to seize and hold New Orleans. The armies on the Potomac are also expected to try conclusions soon.

You will, I am sure, need no instructions to use this information in the way best calculated to free our unhappy domestic strife from its European elements of mischief. When that shall be done, all will be well.

While drawing this despatch to its close I learn that the insurgents have withdrawn from their front on the Potomac, above and below this city, and are breaking up their camps and retreating before our army towards Richmond. Thus ends the siege of Washington, and thus advances the cause of the Union. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. WILLIAM L. Dayton, Esq, fc., 8c., &c.

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

No. 127.]

Paris, March 18, 1862. Sir: The receipt of your despatches No. 111 to 117, both inclusive, is hereby acknowledged.

No. 112 enclosed the copy of a despatch (No. 186) addressed to Mr. Adams, and the copy of a telegram, then just received, as to the capture of Fort Donelson. No. 113 enclosed a copy of a communication to your department from the consul-general of the United States at Havana, relatiye to the vessels which have run the blockade to or from the ports of Cuba. No. 117 enclosed the commissions of Joseph Vandor and Josiah Thomas, appointed consuls, respectively, at Tahiti and Algiers. Application was at once made for their several exequaturs. I received at the same time (March 13) a package from the French legation at Washington, enclosed for Mr. Thouvenel, which was immediately delivered. Your despatch No 114 is in answer to mine of January 27 (No. 109) and I am happy to find that the general views presented by me to Mr. Thouvenel, in the conference reported in that despatch, conformed so nearly to the views and purposes of the government stated by you.

I had, yesterday, another conversation with Mr. Thouvenel on the same general subject. I stated to him the contents of your despatch No. 114, and left with him a copy, which he said he would read and consider with care. I left with him, likewise, a copy of the communication addressed by you to Lord Lyons. He asked again most anxiously when they should have cotton. I referred him to your despatch, and assured him (as I have heretofore informed you that I had assured the Emperor) of our earnest desire to afford the earliest facilities to foreign governments for the procurement of it. He said that petitions and memorials were being daily addressed to the Emperor on this subject; that the suffering and destitution in certain portions of France for want of it were constantly on the increase. Do not delay action, I beg of you, a day beyond the time that you can act on this subject with propriety. He spoke, likewise, of the importance of allowing certain facilities for the transportation of letters to the south, to which subject I have heretofore referred. He thought that open letters might be permitted to be sent through the several consuls of foreign powers, charged by their governments with seeing that nothing but mere 'mercantile letters should be sent. This privilege could certainly be granted without much detriment, although it might possibly be some. I sincerely hope that something will

« PreviousContinue »