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being said with dignity, propriety, and effect, and you will all the while be careful to say nothing that will be incongruous or inconsistent with the views which it contains.
Mr. Dallas, in a brief despatch of May 2, tells us that Lord John Russell recently requested an interview with him on account of the solicitude which bis lordship felt concerning the effect of certain measures represented as likely to be adopted by the President. In that conversation the British secretary told Mr. Dallas that the three representatives of the Southern Confederacy were then in London, that Lord John Russell had not yet seen them, but that he was not unwilling to see them unofficially. He further informed Mr. Dallas that an understanding exists between the British and French governments which would lead both to take one and the same course as to recognition. His lordship then referred to the rumor of a meditated blockade by us of southern ports, and a discontinuance of them as ports of entry. Mr. Dallas answered that he knew nothing on those topics, and therefore could say nothing. He added that you were expected to arrive in two weeks. Upon this statement Lord John Russell acquiesced in the expediency of waiting for the full knowledge you were expected to bring.
The President regrets that Mr. Dallas did not protest against the proposed unofficial intercourse between the British government and the missionaries of the insurgents. It is due, however, to Mr. Dallas to say that our instructions had been given only to you and not to him, and that his loyalty and fidelity, too rare in these times, are appreciated.
Intercourse of any kind with the so-called commissioners is liable to be construed as a recognition of the authority which appointed them. Such intercourse would be none the less hurtful to us for being called unofficial, and it might be even more injurious, because we should have no means of knowing what points might be resolved by it. Moreover, unofficial intercourse is useless and meaningless if it is not expected to ripen into official intercourse and direct recognition. It is left doubtful here whether the proposed unofficial intercourse has yet actually begun. Your own antecedent instructions are deemed explicit enough, and it is hoped that you have not misunderstood them. You will, in any event, desist from all intercourse whatever, unofficial as well as official, with the British government, so long as it shall continue intercourse of
either kind with the domestic enemies of this country. When intercourse shall have been arrested for this cause, you will communicate with this department and receive further directions.
Lord John Russell has informed us of an understanding between the British and French governments that they will act together in regard to our affairs. This communication, however, loses something of its value from the circumstance that the communication was withheld until after kuowledge of the fact bad been acquired by us from other sources. We know also another fact that has not yet been officially communicated to us, namely: That other European states are apprized by France and England of their agreement, and are expected to concur with or follow them in whatever measures they adopt on the subject of recognition. The United States have been impartial and just in all their conduct towards the several nations of Europe. They will not complain, however, of the combination now announced by the two leading powers, although they think they had a right to expect a more independent, if not a more friendly course, from each of them. You will take no notice of that or any other alliance. Whenever the European governments shall see fit to communicate directly with us, we shall be, as heretofore, frank and explicit in our reply.
As to the blockade, you will say that by our own laws and the laws of nature, and the laws of nations, this government has a clear right to suppress insurrection. An exclusion of commerce from national ports which have been seized by insurgents, in the equitable form of blockade, is a proper means to that end. You will not insist that our blockade is to be respected, if it be not maintained by a competent force; but passing by that question as not now a practical or at least an urgent one, you will add that the blockade is now, and it will continue to be, so maintained, and therefore we expect it to be respected by Great Britain. You will add that we have already revoked the exequatur of a Russian consul who had enlisted in the military service of the insurgents, and we shall dismiss or demand the recall of every foreign agent, consular or diplomatic, who shall either disobey the Federal laws or disown the Federal authority.
As to the recognition of the so-called Southern Confederacy, it is not to be made a subject of technical definition. It is, of course, direct recognition to publish an acknowledgment of the sovereignty and
independence of a new power. It is direct recognition to receive its embassadors, ministers, agents or commissioners, officially. A concession of belligerent rights is liable to be construed as a recognition of them. No one of these proceedings will pass unquestioned by the United States in this case.
Hitherto, recognition has been moved only on the assumption that the so-called Confederate States are de facto a self-sustaining power. Now, after long forbearance, designed to sooth discontent and avert the need of civil war, the land and naval forces of the United States have been put in motion to repress insurrection. The true character of the pretended new state is at once revealed. It is seen to be a power existing in pronunciamento only. It has never won a field. It bas obtained no forts that were not virtually betrayed into its hands or seized in breach of trust. It commands not a single port on the coast nor any high way out from its pretended capital by land. Under these circumstances, Great Britain is called upon to intervene and give it body and independence by resisting our measures of suppression. British recognition would be British intervention, to create within our territory a hostile state by overthrowing this Republic itself.
As to the treatment of privateers in the insurgent service, you will say that this is a question exclusively our own. We treat them as pirates. They are our own citizens, or persons employed by our citizens, preying on the commerce of our country. If Great Britain shall choose to recognize them as lawful belligerents, and give them .shelter from our pursuit and punishment, the laws of nations afford an adequate and proper remedy.
Happily, however, her Britannic Majesty's government can avoid all these difficulties. It invited us in 1856 to accede to the declaration of the Congress of Paris, of which body Great Britain was herself a member, abolishing privateering everywhere in all cases and forever You already bave our authority to propose to her our accession to that declaration. If she refuse it, it can only be because she is willing to become the patron of privateering when aimed at our devastation.
These positions are not elaborately defended now, because to vindicate them would imply a possibility of our waiving them.
We are not insensible of the grave importance of this occasion. We e see how, upon the result of the debate in which we are engaged, a war may ensue between the United States and one, two, or even more European nations. War in any case is as exceptional from the habits as it is revolting from the sentiments of the American people. But if it come it will be fully seen that it results from the action of Great Britain, not our own; that Great Britain will have decided to fraternize with our domestic enemy either without waiting to hear from you our remonstrances and our warnings, or after having heard them. War in defence of national life is not immoral, and war in defence of independence is an inevitable part of the discipline of nations.
The dispute will be between the European and the American branches of the British race. All who belong to that race will especially deprecate it, as they ought. It may well be believed that men of every race and kindred will deplore it. A war not unlike it between the same parties occurred at the close of the last century. Europe atoned by forty years of suffering for the error that Great Britain committed in provoking that contest. If that nation shall now repeat the same great error, the social convulsions which will follow may not be so long, but they will be more general. When they shall have ceased, it will, we think, be seen, whatever may bave been the fortunes of other nations, that it is not the United States that will have come out of them with its precious Constitution altered, or its honestly obtained dominions in any degree abridged. Great Britain has but to wait a few months, and all her present inconveniences will cease with all our own troubles. If she take a different course she will calculate for herself the ultimate, as well as the immediate consequences, and will consider what position she will hold when she shall have forever lost the sympathies and affections of the only nation on whose sympathies and affections she has a natural claim. In making that calculation she will do well to remember that in the controversy she proposes to open we shall be actuated by neither pride, nor passion, nor cupidity, nor ambition ; but we shall stand simply on the principle of selfpreservation, and that our cause will involve the independence of nations and the rights of human nature.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Clay.
May 6, 1861. – Nations, like individuals, have three prominent wants; firstly, freedom ; secondly, prosperity; thirdly, friends. The United States early secured the two first objects by the exercise of courage
and enterprise. But, although they have always practised singular moderation, they nevertheless have been slow in winning friends.
Russia presents an exceptional case. That power was an early, and it has always been a constant friend. This relationship between two nations, so remote and so unlike, has excited much surprise, but the explanation is obvious. Russia, like the United States, is an inproving and expanding empire. Its track is eastward, while that of the United States is westward. The two nations, therefore never come into rivalry or conflict. Each carries civilization to the new regions it enters, and each finds itself occasionally resisted by states jealous of its prosperity, or alarmed by its aggrandizement. Russia and the United States may remain good friends until, each having made a circuit of half the globe in opposite directions, they shall meet and greet each other in the region where civilization first began, and where, after so many ages, it has become now lethargic and helpless. It will be your pleasing duty to confirm and strengthen these traditional relations of amity and friendship. Assure his Imperial Majesty that the President and the people of the United States have observed with admiration and sympathy the great and humane efforts he has so recently made for the material and moral improvement of his empire by the extension of telegraphs and railroads, and by removing the disabilities of slavery. Make it your duty to inquire whether the sluggish course of commerce between the two nations cannot be quickened, and its volume increased. Russia is capable of receiving cotton and tobacco from us in much · larger quantities than we now send. The former is not a staple of that country, and although it produces tobacco, yet not of so higli a quality as that which we send abroad, and of which Russia consumes more than any other nation.
We can well receive from that country increased quantities of hemp and flax, tallow, and other productions in exchange. Russia is liberal to our inventors, engineers, and machinists; but vicious adventurers too often abuse this generous encouragement