Page images

soon as possible allowed to enjoy them. Let us have on all sides true neutrality, and this hateful and injurious domestic strife will, within a very few months, be remembered only as a lesson full of instruction to all nations.

[blocks in formation]

SIR: As you will be more particularly informed by papers sent herewith, New Orleans is opened to the mails. A collector has also proceeded there to take measures for opening that port. Other ports will be opened also. The Treasury, War, and Navy Departments are completing the details of preparation. The fall of New Orleans, Fort Macon, and Yorktown in rapid succession have produced a general expectation of peace. No one on either side of the contest dreams of peace otherwise than with the complete restoration of the Union. Indeed, the whole country feels that this consummation has actually begun. How strangely in contrast with this conviction are the coldness and indifference manifested by maritime powers, and the crowding of our coasts with contraband European vessels freighted with arms and munitions of war vainly consigned to the insurgents! France, Belgium, and Great Britain, while suffering the sorest privations, are, nevertheless, constantly sending hither on desperate ventures the means to protract the calamitous war they deprecate. We shall have peace and Union in a very few months, let France and Great Britain do as they may. We should have them in one month if either the Emperor or the Queen should speak the word and say, If the life of this unnatural insurrection hangs on an expectation of our favor, let it die. To bring the Emperor to this conviction is your present urgent duty. If successful in performing it, you will render a benefit to France worth more than any conquest, while you will direct a stream of healing oil upon the wounds of our own afflicted land. The President prays and trusts that you may succeed.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM L. DAYTON, Esq., &c., &c., &c.


Mr. Seward to the diplomatic and consular agents of the United States.



Washington, May 2, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to state, for your information, that the mails are now allowed to pass to and from New Orleans and other places which, having heretofore been seized by insurgent forces, have since been recovered and are now reoccupied by the land and naval forces of the United States.

It is proper, however, to add, that a military surveillance is maintained over such mails so far as the government finds it necessary for the public safety.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.

No. 151.]


Washington, May 7, 1862.

SIR: Your despatch of the 22d of April (No. 141) has been received. I am very glad to know that you communicated what I have before written you about the purpose of this government to open southern ports as early as should be possible.

Although New Orleans was captured on the 24th of April, and has since been fully possessed and occupied, we have not yet received official information of the fact, nor has the treasury been able to perfect there the arrangements necessary for the restoration of trade. These arrangements are nowbeing completed, and I expect that the same steamer which will carry out this despatch will also carry to Europe the proclamation for the restoration of commerce. That proclamation, I think, may be regarded by the maritime powers as an announcement that the republic has passed the danger of disunion, and is ready once more to renew its course of beneficent enterprise. The Emperor of the French can readily understand how much difficulty we have found in opening our ports to the maritime powers which have so long and so persistently, and so unnecessarily, conceded belligerent privileges to a faction which was waging war for the desolation of our country. It will be a study for the historian, why those powers, on the first sound of the bugle of faction, so absolutely abandoned all their former faith in the government and people of the United States. We have deeply desired that France, our earliest friend and the only ally we ever had, should rise above the other nations in appreciating the virtue and the capacity of the American people. We have thought it would be even useful to France herself to assume such an attitude. We have been thus far disappointed. But we do not, therefore, mean to be unjust. We acknowledge that France has faithfully practiced the neutrality she proclaimed, and that in the whole progress of the domestic strife she has not only spoken the language, but acted in the character, of a well-wisher and a friend.

The year of the American insurrection will be known in the history of mankind as one of disaster and fearful apprehension to all nations. It has been our study so to conduct public affairs with foreign nations as to cast off from the government itself all accountability for the unnecessary aggravations of what might and ought to have been only a brief and local political disturbance, resulting from a sudden gust of popular passion.

[blocks in formation]

SIR: Your despatch of April 22 (No. 142) has been received. Mr. Thouvenel meets all the just expectations of the President in regard to the Mexican question, when he says that we may take the speech of Mr. Billault as an embodiment of the views and purposes of the French government. You will express to Mr. Thouvenel a just appreciation of the directness and frankness of his explanations, and at the same time renew the

assurances of the desire of the United States that peaceful relations may soon be restored between France and Mexico upon a basis just to both parties and favorable to the independence and sovereignty of the people of Mexico, which is equally the interest of France and all other enlightened nations. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

[blocks in formation]

SIR: Your despatch of the 17th of April (No. 137) has only at this hour come to my hands.

It is hardly necessary now to explain why I was content to dwell so briefly upon the Emperor's desire for a relaxation of the blockade in my despatch No. 133. New Orleans was at that very moment beset, and the reduction of that important port was expected without delay. When it should have taken place, the question of modifying the blockade would become not only an immediate question, but one easy of solution. The event anticipated has occurred, and the consequence has followed. The present mail carries to Europe the proclamation of the President which opens the door to domestic and foreign trade, under necessary reservations. The sincerity of the President in all that I have written in this respect is not to be questioned. If the trials of civil war, amid the fears of foreign intervention, have obliged this government to practice prudence, the greatness of the cause has, at the same time, awakened profound conscientiousness and devotion to truth. How great will be the fruits of the opening of our ports for the export of cotton, and how speedy the fruition of them, will now depend largely on the maritime powers. There is not, indeed, one armed cruiser of the insurgents afloat; not one port on our coast in which a pirate can find shelter, or from which it could escape. Nevertheless, the defeated faction can destroy the materials of trade, and can prevent culture and production. They can do these things, however, only upon the pretence that they thus hope to constrain foreign nations to assume their cause. Meantime the armies of the United States constantly become more firm and consolidated; and a navy is coming into activity which will soon be equal to every possible conflict. The resources of the insurgent faction are failing and the forces exhausted, and the passion which has been their only moral element is subsiding. Shall we be now allowed to have peace, or must we still persevere in the organization and conduct of war? Distress, attributed to this war, everywhere reveals itself in Europe. The British statesman seeks to soothe it by apologies at Manchester; the Belgian authorities direct musical concerts to raise funds to relieve the destitution at Liege; and the French manufacturer of silk and cotton fabrics is already brought to the practice of frugality in feeding his looms. If the war in America has produced these inconveniences, it is only peace in America that can end them. Europe set out at the beginning of this strife with the idea that America would consent to procure peace through a dissolution of the Union. Has not America dared and done enough already to satisfy Europe that peace, with all its blessings, will be accepted on no other terms than the unity of the American republic? Let the world accept this truth, and then the plough, the shuttle, and the transport will come again into activity. Less than a year will witness the dissolution of all the

armies; the iron-clad navy will rest idly in our ports; taxes will immediately decrease, and new States will be coming into the confederacy, bringing rich contributions to the relief and comfort of mankind. What European state will not be profited by this change? Is there no one that will have the magnanimity to perceive that it ought to be accepted?

[blocks in formation]

SIR: It will be proper for you to inform Mr. Thouvenel that I have communicated the substance of his explanations given to you on the subject of Mexican complications to Mr. Romero, excluding, however, all that part of the explanations which was stated to you by Mr. Thouvenel to be confidential. A copy of my communication to Mr. Romero is annexed.

The frankness and distinctness which we have maintained throughout with all parties on this grave subject have seemed to require this proceeding. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM L. DAYTON, Esq., &c., &c, &c.


No. 147.]

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

PARIS, May 16, 1862.

SIR: Your several despatches from No. 138 to No. 146, both inclusive, have been received.

Despatch No. 138, received on the 7th instant, gives a summary of our military position for the purpose of enabling me to satisfy Mr. Thouvenel that the government of France should assume as a fact the certain failure of the insurrection, and that its commercial interests demand a withdrawal of the concession of belligerent rights to the insurrectionists.

I am waiting in daily expectation of hearing what Mr. Adams has done. in England upon this question. Without this knowledge I do not feel that it would be wise or prudent to urge the point further at the present moment.

My despatch of March 29 (No. 131) gives you the substance of a conversation with Mr. Thouvenel upon this point, which is subsequent in date to that with the Emperor, to which your despatch refers. The question of the propriety of revoking this concession of belligerent rights has been presented to this government so distinctly and earnestly that I am quite sure the answer of Mr. Thovenel, given in that despatch, was upon full advisement. Without a still further change for the better in the condition of things at home, or some encouraging information from Mr. Adams, I hesitate to urge the point further at present. It might be considered as savoring of importunity, or, at all events, as wanting in that diplomatic forbearance which this government would have a right to expect. This remark applies culy to my further and immediate action upon this question; not at all to

your despatch. At the time that despatch was written you were yet ignorant of my last conversation with Mr. Thouvenel. The misfortune is that, acting upon previous instructions, I have, in this respect, anticipated your wishes. But the course of events has already greatly added to the strength of our position. Each day adds a new argument to the strength of our claim upon these governments for a revocation of that unwise concession. If, in addition to the taking of New Orleans, our armies at Yorktown and Corinth should be successful, there would scarcely remain a plausible excuse with which to evade our demand. It can hardly be that so good a government as that of France will long continue a wrong which commenced in a wholly mistaken view of the policy and power of the United States. But in the present condition of things-our armies yet facing each other in the field, and the denouement daily expected-the French government will probably wait the result.

I shall avail myself of the contents of your despatch at an early day, and hope, in the meantime, that coming events may even add to its force. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

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


P. S. Since writing the above I have received a communication from Mr. Adams, which informs me that the British government had "no intention to vary the policy" adopted heretofore; and he states, further, that after having read your late despatch upon this question, "the answer was that the great ports were not yet in our possession, and the issue appeared yet uncertain."

Under these circumstances I shall wait the development of a few days more at least before addressing myself again upon this point to the French government.


Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

No. 149.]
PARIS, May 22, 1862.
SIR: Your despatches No. 147 to 150, both inclusive, have been received,
and their contents respectively noted.

In my prior despatches I have informed you fully of my suggestions to the government here as respects the propriety of withdrawing the concession of belligerent rights granted to the south, and of my purpose to wait the development of a few days before mooting the question further. Your despatch No. 149, subsequently received, and an unexpected interview with Mr. Thouvenel, under favorable circumstances, induced me to suggest it again.

I had a long conference with him on the 21st instant, and am fully satisfied that his previous answer given me on this question was upon advise.


Immediately upon my entering his office, he said he had just received news from the United States. That the day preceding the secretary of their legation at Washington had arrived here, and they had a long talk about our affairs. He referred to our late successes, and the present position of our armies. He said he had never doubted the superior strength of the north, nor of its ability to overcome the south; but the question was, how were we to govern them afterwards? That under our form of government

« PreviousContinue »