Page images

disciplined, good marksmen, brave, patriotic, and eager. They make much and very skilful use of the bayonet, and always with effect. They are everywhere advancing. They have taken every position they have approached, and have won every battle and skirmish in which they have been engaged for several months past.

Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the western and northern parts of Virginia, as well as Eastern Florida, have been abandoned by the insurrectionary chiefs.

Finally, not only are our resources ample, but our credit is undisputed and sound, while that of the insurgents is exhausted, and they are reduced for revenue to direct taxation upon only the cotton States, which, while they produce little else than cotton, are threatening to destroy the cotton now on hand, and refusing to plant the seeds for a future crop.

We think we may safely submit to maritime nations the question whether there is any longer the least ground to apprehend a failure of this government to restore the federal authority in the revolutionary section, and to maintain and preserve the federal Union. If this is so, is it generous, just, or wise for friendly states any longer to recognize the insurgents as a public belligerent?

The questions how soon cotton can be gotten, and how much cotton, of course depend mainly upon the point how soon and how completely the insurrection shall cease. The Emperor of France need not be told that terror precedes and desolation follows the track of armies, and that when war has ceased, industry resumes its haunts and habits just in the degree that they have left unexhausted the resources of the country.

We have seen that the insurgents threaten to destroy the cotton already in store, and to prevent the new planting of that important staple. Why? There is a reason frankly assigned by them, namely, to compel France and Great Britain to become their allies in a war against our own country. Why do they still

dream that such alliances are yet possible ? Only because they have seen France and Great Britain seem to hesitate whether to look for cotton through the overthrow of the Union or through its success in arms. In the President's opinion it is this attitude of maritime powers alone that now prolongs the war. The war will indeed speedily come to an end, in which the Union will triumph, even though that attitude of friendly nations remains unchanged; but the end would follow all of a sudden the change of attitude. There is no doubt that the blockade might be safely removed, and cotton, tobacco, and other southern productions be left to flow freely out of the southern ports, if commercial states should now come to the conclusion to know and regard the flag of the Union as the only one in our country entitled to be known in their commercial and political intercourse.

It is proper that you should be informed that a despatch essentially similar to this has been transmitted to Mr. Adams, with instructions to exercise bis discretion as to the time when its suggestions shall be communicated to the British government. You will exercise a like discretion on your part. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, WILLIAM L. Daytox, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.

No. 139.]


Washington, April 16, 1862. Sır: Your despatch of March 26 (No. 130) has been submitted to the President.

You will learn with pleasure that the suggestion lately made by the President in his special message to Congress, touching the co-operation of Congress with the States in measures for

the gradual removal of slavery, has been approved by both houses of Congress, and has also been received with much favor by the country. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Wm. L. DAYTON, Esq., 8c., c., c.

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward. No. 137.]

Paris, April 17, 1862. Sir: Your despatches from No. 128 to 135, both inclusive, have been duly received. Through some oversight, I neglected to acknowledge the receipt of the first five when they came to hand.

The change in the condition of things at home has produced a change, if possible, more striking abroad. There is little more said just now as to the validity of our blockade or the propriety of an early recognition of the south. The fight between the Monitor and the Merrimack bas turned the attention of these maritime governments, and of England more especially, in another direction. They certainly appreciate more highly than heretofore the difficulty of shutting up distant ports with wooden ships. They must see, too, that the present unhappy condition of things in our country is forcing as to increase our iron-clad vessels with a rapidity elsewhere unknown. With a powerful and disciplined army on foot, and a heavy iron-clad naval force at our command, the world will understand that our just rights are not to be trifled with. I only hope that no consciousness of strength may, at the close of our domestic struggle, induce a spirit of arrogance or aggression upon our part towards other nations. If the control of the government be then in its present hands, I am sure that such spirit will be restrained.

Your confidential despatch (No. 133) has been read by me with great interest. It is in answer to mine of March 4, (No. 124,) giving you the substance of a conversation with the Emperor. The point.of that conversation was the somewhat anxious expression of a hope upon his part that some of the cotton ports would be opened, and the expression of a confident belief upon mine that it would be done at an early day This, upon my part, was predicated upon the repeated assurances received from Washington that as we took possession of the southern ports they would be opened to trade. Your despatch, however, though summing up with great force the strength of our present position and the grounds of our future hopes, gives no distinct assurance of the time or circumstances under which any of the ports will be opened. To say, as your despatch does say, they will be opened “upon the re-establishment of the Union,” will be, in the view of foreign governments, rather to limit than extend the assurances heretofore given. They will say, I fear, with justice, that we have heretofore held out to them what they believe to be a better hope than this.

They will feel that as our strength increases, and our fears of foreign interference diminish, we are not willing to make good our promises. I will communicate your views to Mr. Thouvenel, but I must say I feel somewhat the awkwardness of my position, though I am quite sure that I have not heretofore gone further in my assurances than communications from your department justified.

Your reference to the question of a withdrawal by France of the concession of belligerent rights to the south is noted. I will keep the suggestion in view, but you will have already learned, by a subsequent despatch from me, that I have fully presented that matter both to the Emperor and to Mr. Thouvenel.

. I have forborne to address them in writing upon this subject, because I feared that a direct and formal refusal would commit this government still further, and make the matter worse. Besides, did you not refuse to take official notice of the fact that such concession ever was made ? Mr. Adams, on a recent visit here, informed me that he had not yet addressed the British government upon this question, but having learned what had been done here, he would now make the suggestion there. As these governments act upon an understanding on this question, it is, perhaps, not wise for me to go further until it shall appear that some suggestion has been made in England.

I was happy to receive a visit from Mr. Adams, and to confer with him upon this and other matters. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

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

Secretary of State, dc., &c., &c.

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

[Extracts.] No. 141.)

Paris, April 22, 1862. Sir: In my despatch No. 137 I fear I did not do full justice to your intentions in respect to the opening of cotton ports, expressed in your confidential despatch No. 133. I was a little surprised by the vague and general terms in which you expressed those intentions, and felt that the government here would not consider them as explicit and satisfactory as those heretofore used. Upon examining them with more care, they seem to me less vague than I at first supposed. As we have already taken possession of a considerable number of these ports, and have expressed ourselves as baving no doubt of our ability to hold them, this government has doubtless expected, in view of our past assurances, that the blockade would, as to such ports, or some of them, be raised or modified. I have reassured Mr. Thouvenel on this subject to-day in accordance with your last despatch, and left it with him to be read. He said, as my conversation, to wbich it was a reply, was with the Emperor, he should submit the same to him personally; to which I, of course, cheerfully assented. The language of the despatch, in reference to the Emperor and to the course of our diplomatic negotiations for the past year cannot, I think, but be gratifying both to Mr. Thouvenel and his Majesty.

Upon my assuring Mr. Thouvenel of the disposition of our government to open cotton ports as soon as they could safely do so, he replied that he had just returned from a visit to certain of the manufacturing districts of France;


[blocks in formation]

that it was most painful in some of the large manufacturing districts to see their immense establishments “not smoking,” or, in other words, “not at work," and the population unemployed; that the distress was great, and the demand for cotton consequently most urgent. I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


Secretary of State, fr., $c., fr.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton. No. 141.]


Washington, April 22, 1862. SIR: Your despatch of March 31 (No. 131) has been received. I have already exhausted in other papers the principal topics it presents.

Mr. Mercier proposed in a very proper manner that he would visit Richmond if we should not object. Of course the President approved, being satisfied that he would not in any way compromit the relations existing between the French government and our own. It is impossible not to see now that the insurrection is shrinking and shrivelling into very narrow dimensions. I hope that Mr. Mercier may come back prepared with some plan to alleviate the inconveniences of his countrymen in the south, who are not acting against this government, and, in that way, against the peace and harmony of the two countries.

The real difficulty is, that the southern ports are, and even the whole southern country is, now actually in a state of siege, and communication in any. thing like a normal manner is impossible.

You will notice that General McDowell has entered Fredericksburg, and General Banks is marching successfully quite through the valley of Virginia. We have reason to expect Savannah to come into our possession within the Dext ten days, and Fort Macon to fall about as soon. The insurrectionary leaders have made a conscription of all between 18 and 35. They issue new paper which sells for gold at the rate of one hundred dollars for twenty.

Mr. Thouvenel's assurances to you on the subject of Mexico are eminently satisfactory to the President.

It is among the most gratifying indications of our speedy success in restoring the peace of the country that all the foreign ministers here. (so far as I know) are now satisfied of the certainty of the event, and more than one of them are asking leaves of absence to visit Europe, a privilege they would not ask except under such a conviction. Mr. Hülsemann thinks he can go home; Mr. Schleiden has gone. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

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

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton. No 146.)


Washington, April 28, 1862. Sir: You will fully appreciate the importance of the capture of New Orleans, which was effected by our naval expedition, exclusively, on the 24th instant. The news reached us through insurgent organs last evening. As


yet we have not received details, 'nor can we fully apprehend, at so early a moment, the changes in the plans of the insurgents which this great event must produce. It is hardly to be doubted that it will enable us, before another despatch day shall arrive, to restore the mails to that great commercial city under such restraints, not oppressive to innocent commercial intercourse, as the military exigencies will permit.

We were indeed just maturing a plan for that purpose when intelligence of the great victory arrived.

We hear that Captain Bullock, of Georgia, writes from London that he is sending out five steamers which he has purchased, fitted, armed, and supplied with materials of war, in England, to prosecute a naval war against us. This can be regarded as nothing less than a piratical invasion of this country from Europe, under the toleration of European powers. We do not doubt our ability to meet and overcome it. But it seems to us worthy the consideration of maritime states, whether our success in maintaining the integrity of our country shall be necessarily accompanied with the conviction, fixed forever in the public mind, that Europe lent its aid to the abortive revolution.

The President knows that France has wished us well. Would it not be well for her to signalize her aversion from the designs of European conspirators ? I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.

No. 148.]


Washington, May 1, 1862. Sir: The President, as you have been already informed, is directing that measures be taken to mitigate the rigor of our blockade, with a view to the relief of France, whom we would not willingly see suffer unnecessarily by reason of the calamities which have befallen our own country. I have so often said that the concession of belligerent rights to the insurgents has aggravated and prolonged these calamities that I need not now repeat that remark. I may, however, observe with entire propriety, I think, that the United States have a right to expect at least actual neutrality from the foreign governments which have proclaimed it. Certainly France, while looking to us to mitigate our war in the interest of herself and other friendly nations like herself, could not, without protest, see the same war prosecuted against us by subscription among the merchants of England. Entertaining this opinion, I send you a copy of a recent letter which has been received from our consul at Liverpool, and of a letter founded thereupon which I have addressed to Mr. Adams.

The pain inflicted by transactions like this is mitigated by the concession which other nations imply in their treatment of us, namely: that we are strong enough to overcome our domestic enemies with all the aid they can unlawfully obtain abroad, and that we are believed capable of being generous to any extent that foreign interest, passion, or prejudice shall seek to profit by our national misfortunes.

But this consideration does not tend to the consummation which is neces sary for ourselves and for the world. We want peace with independence, and it is equally the interest of France and of Great Britain that we be as

« PreviousContinue »