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especially any such correspondence or despatches favorable to the existing in. surrection and hostile or injurious to the government of the United States. When

you shall have informed me of the naval vessel selected, and her commander, instructions will be given to the blockading squadron to facilitate his operations.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. Henry Mercier, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Mercier to Mr. Seward.

[Translation.]
LEGATION OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED STATES,

Washington, December 23, 1861. Sir: Upon referring to the note which you did me the honor to address to me on the 11th of this month on the subject of the embarkation of a certain number of French families who desire to leave New Orleans, I hasten to inform you that the admiral commanding the naval forces of his Majesty off the coast of the United States and among the Antilles has designated for the mission agreed upon between the Department of State and this legation either of the two war steamers whose names follow: The Lavoisier, commanded by Mr. Ribonert, captain of a frigate; the Milan, commanded by Mr. Clorie, captain of a frigate.

It is not for the admiral to determine precisely at this moment which will be the one that will go to New Orleans, as the selection must depend on the position of the ships of his division which are now in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico; but in any event, it can be only one of the two vessels above designated. I have, then, the honor to request you, sir, to be so good as to expedite the orders necessary for the blockading squadron, so that one or the other may be permitted to fulfil her mission.

I seize this occasion, sir, to renew to you the assurances of my high consideration.

HENRI MERCIER. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c., &c., &c.

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Mr. Seward to Mr. Mercier.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, December 31, 1861. SIR: Adverting to your note of the 23d instant, designating a naval vessel for the purpose of taking certain French families from New Orleans, who are desirous of returning to their native country, I have the honor to inform you a translation of the note has been transmitted to the Navy Department, with a copy of my note to you of the 11th instant, and that instructions have been given to the flag-officer of the Gulf blockading squadron, William W. McKean, in accordance therewith.

I avail myself of this occasion to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. HENRY MERCIER, &c., dc., &c.

Mr. Mercier to Mr. Seward.

[Translation.]
LEGATION OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED STATES,

Washington, January, 1862. Sir: H. E. M. Thouvenel wrote to me lately to give my attention to the grave considerations which are pressed upon the government of the Emperor by the ills of every kind which weigh upon our commerce and our industry in consequence of the present condition of things in the United States, and has pointed out to me, among others, those which result to our merchants from the interruption of all postal communication with the States subjected to blockade by the federal forces. Upon this subject he cited to me, for example, the fact that important French houses, occupying the best conditions as to solvency, would suddenly find themselves exposed to inability to honor their engagements, by failure of the reception of the heavy remittances due to them from their correspondents established in the southern States, the aggregate of which for the city of New Orleans alone amounts to, at least, six or eight millions of dollars.

I cannot doubt, sir, after the promptitude full of kindness which you showed in facilitating to the Frenchmen who needed it the means of leaving New Orleans, that you can be indisposed to give to a condition so painful all the alleviations which circumstances admit. I shall appeal, then, with confidence to your kind attention to an arrangement which might achieve the object to a certain degree, while waiting for affairs to resume their regular current, and which appears to me to contain nothing contrary to the purpose which the cabinet at Washington is pursuing

This arrangement would consist in authorizing the consuls of the Emperor to receive and deliver, upon their responsibility, the correspondence addressed to our countrymen, when, after having perused it, they shall be convinced that it was entirely commercial, and had no relation to any operation which might lead to violation of the blockade. This correspondence should be forwarded, either by the legation or the consulate general at New York, under the seal of office, to our consuls at New Orleans, at Charleston, and at Richmond, and by those to the consulate general at New York, and sent on by vessels-of-war along with the regular official correspondence.

It seems to me, sir, that these conditions, which, with all those which it may please you to add, would be observed with most scrupulous care, would suffice to give to the federal government all the guarantees it can desire and they will admit of, at the same time it would in no way impair the efficiency of the blockade, to mitigate the embarrassment it inflicts upon those of our nation.

I embrace this occasion, sir, to renew to you the assurances of my high consideration.

HENRI MERCIER. Hon. WM. H. SEWARD, #c., đc., &c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Mercier.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, January 10, 1862. Sir: I have the honor of acknowledging your note, in which you speak, under instructions from Mr. Thouvenel, of the inconveniences which weigh upon French commerce and industry in consequence of the present condition of things, and especially those evils which result to French merchants from the interruption of postal communications with the States subjected to blockade by the government of the United States.

This communication is so important that I shall find it necessary to submit it to the President for his instructions, as well as to take the opinions of my associates in the cabinet.

I pray you to be assured, however, that no unnecessary delay shall be allowed to occur in reaching a solution of the questions you have proposed.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. Henry MERCIER, fr., fr., fc.

Mr. Thouvencl to Mr. Mercier.

[Translation.] No. 2.)

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

Paris, January 19, 1862. Sir: I have received the despatch which you have done me the honor to write to me, numbered 77, which confirms the news of the restitution of Messrs. Mason and Slidell.

You already know what bas been the satisfaction which the government of the Emperor has derived from this. I now do myself the pleasure of attesting that the communication which you were instructed to present to the cabinet of Washington was received in the same spirit of cordial frankness that inspired it, and that the government of the Emperor was not mistaken in its expectation of finding the United States maintaining that position upon which they have been a long time in accord with France in defence of the same principles. Receive, sir, the assurances of my high consideration.

THOUVENEL. Mr. Henri MERCIER,

Minister of France at Washington.

Mr. Thouvenel to Mr. Mercier.

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[Translation.] No. 4.]

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

Paris, January 23, 1862. Sır: I am in receipt of the despatch you have done me the honor to write to me, (No. 79.)

You know, without doubt, already the opinion of the English government on the system which the cabinet of Washington seems to have adopted for closing the ports of the south, and of which it has made the first application to that of Charleston. You know, consequently, how much the British cabinet shows itself averse to this manner of making war. Its feeling is very lively in this respect; and, according to what Lord Cowley has told me, I have room to think that new instructions will be sent to Lord Lyons that he must insist on his precedent observations on this subject. I cannot therefore dispense with informing you how we judge, on our part, the measure to which the federal government has decided to have recourse. Until now what we know of the

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proceedings put in usage at Charleston does not sufficiently advise us about the obstructions which they may definitively oppose to the frequenting of that port by foreign navigation, so as to be able to determine upon the act by itself; but there is not the least doubt in our mind about the objections which, on principle, are called out by the expedient put in practice by the cabinet of Washington, in view of meeting, as it seems, the difficulties it would experience in maintaining an effective blockade of the ports of the south. Without dwelling on the thought that it would be inadmissible for any party thus to evade an obligation at this day by general consent imposed on every belligerent, it is impossible not to comprehend that measures such as that treated of are little in harmony with the evident tendency of all governments, and of the United States themselves, up to this time, to seek the means of restraining more and more the injuries and the ills which war brings with it. It would be vain to attempt to dissemble that the closing. by such unwonted means of ports actually in a state of blockade would effect in a manner irremediable the general interests of trade; that it would not be on the enemy only that an injury would be inflicted, authorized in regard to him by the laws of war, but on all neutrals, who would be affected at the same moment.

It would be, in fact, to interdict to them, not merely momentarily and during the pending of hostilities, but in a permanent manner, and after the re-establishment even of peace, access to a coast where they ought to expect to find (the war once ended) both the privilege again to hoist their commercial flag, and also ports of refuge, whose preservation interests in the highest degree the general security of navigation.

Let the question be examined, either in accordance with the principles which govern blockades, or with a view to the consequences which the employment of the coercive measures, such as those essayed for the first time at Charleston, would entail upon the future, the impression is the same : we are unavoidably led to regard these measures as an abusive extension of rights which international regulations recognize as belonging to a belligerent. I do not fear to say that this opinion will

certainly be that of all governments which have it at heart not to see war resume the destructive character which it has had at other epochs, but which is so contrary to the progress of modern civilization. I will add that, besides the mischievous effect produced on public opinion by the measures on which I have thought it necessary to address you, they could not, if repeated, but prejudice very seriously the cause even of the Union.

It is not my intention to prescribe to you any steps analogous to those which Lord Lyons has already taken, or will repeat. I desire only that you should have a frank explanation with Mr. Seward, when the occasion may offer, of what we think about the much to be regretted expedient suggested to the cabinet at Washington by circumstances, but whose ill consequences cannot now escape his penetration. Receive, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

THOUVENEL. Mons. MERCIER,

Minister of France at Washington.

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Mr. Seward to Mr. Mercier

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, February 7, 1862. Sir: I cannot deny myself the pleasure of expressing to you the gratification with which the President has received the cordial assurances of good will and satisfaction in the disposition of the affair of the Trent conveyed to this govern

ment in Mr. Thouvenel's despatch to you of the 19th of January, which you in so obliging a manner read to me, and a copy of which, at my request, you delivered to me on Saturday last.

I trust, sir, that the European states will on no occasion, more than on the one which has just passed, have reason to doubt that the United States, while acting loyally to themselves, will at the same time prove loyal, also, to the best principles and traditions of their history. It shall not be a fault on their part if, emerging from their present troubles, they do not retain the respect, good will, and fraternal sympathy of all enlightened nations. Have the goodness, in your own way, to make these sentiments known to Mr. Thouvenel.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. Henry MERCIER, fc., fr., fr.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Mercier.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, February 10, 1862. SIR: Your note of January last was duly received. It calls my attention to the embarrassments which weigh upon French commerce and industry in consequence of the political disturbances existing in the southern portion of the United States, and suggests as a partial remedy that the correspondence of a purely commercial character might be transmitted by the consuls of the Emperor, such correspondence being in all cases open, and being found by the consuls to be purely commercial and having no tendency to a violation of the existing blockade.

Some delay has attended the consideration of this proposition, not because the government was disinclined to make the concession to France, but because the concession granted to French subjects must, in a spirit of equality, be conceded to the citizens or subjects of other foreign states, and also, perhaps, to citizens of the United States.

I am instructed by the President to say that military operations are rapidly bringing commercial cities where the insurrection exists under the authority of the United States, and that in connexion with these operations the government is considering how facilities may be granted of the character in question. I expect soon to be able to recur to this subject. In the meantime, should the delay seem unreasonable, I shall consent, with pleasure, to hear you upon it again, whenever you may think proper.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. HENRY MERCIER, $c., fr., c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Mercier.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, February 20, 1862. Sir: I have carefully considered the suggestions concerning the artificial obstacles made in Charleston harbor, presented by you in the conversation which occurred between us last Monday at an interview which you had solicited under an instruction of Mr. Thouvenel, of which you have kindly given me a copy.

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