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Minister a year or two before.' Between Americans and Frenchmen there was a traditional friendship that had some sentimental importance, but only little practical force. The two peoples have so few traits and tendencies in common that they generally misjudge one another both as persons and as nations. The citizens of the United States could not forget that France was tolerating the usurpations of Napoleon III., and the French were not pleased by the disapproval. However, no serious ill-will was felt on either side.
The diplomatic corps in Washington had closely watched the course of events since November. The national capital was then a southern city in nearly every respect. Its aristocratic society was composed almost entirely of persons who were not only slave-holders, but were also either leaders of secession or sympathizers with it. The representatives of foreign nations were brought into intimate relations with this class, and some of them received extremely pro-southern impressions. They in turn influenced the opinions of the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs of their respective governments. It was in this way, as well as by the declarations of southern sympathizers in Europe, that the political world abroad early came to take a favorable view of the power and prospects of the Confederacy.
A great war concerns a large part of the civilized world, and the principals in such a conflict are greatly affected by the attitude foreign nations assume toward them. These facts were early recognized by the Secretaries of State at Washington and at Montgomery, respectively. Even Buchanan's paralytic administration raised its shriveled arm to warn Europe against interference. On February 28, 1861, Secretary Black
1 2 Seward, 471.
addressed a circular letter to our Ministers at the leading foreign capitals, instructing them to use such means as they might consider proper and necessary to prevent the anticipated efforts of the Confederacy to obtain a recognition of independence. "This government has not relinquished its constitutional jurisdiction within the territory of those states, and it does not desire [!] to do so." It was evidently the right of this government, he said, to ask all foreign powers not to take any steps likely to encourage the revolutionary movement. An acknowledgment of the independence of the "Confederated States" by any nation would tend to disturb the friendly relations, diplomatic and commercial, now existing between that nation and the United States.' Black's communication seemed perfunctory and lifeless.
Nine days later Seward with vivacity and hope, "reiterated and amplified" Black's instructions, as he subsequently wrote.' Our Ministers were informed that they were expected to use "the greatest possible diligence and fidelity. . . . to counteract and prevent the designs of those who would invoke foreign intervention to embarrass and overthrow the Republic." The President entertained "full confidence in the speedy restoration of the harmony and unity of the government by a firm, yet just and liberal, bearing, co-operating with the deliberate and loyal action of the American people"; for the disturbances "had their origin only in popular passions, excited under novel circumstances of very transient character." The advantage that any nation might derive from a connection with the disaffected portion of our country would be merely ephemeral, and would be counterbalanced by the evils that would flow from disunion. He regretted that the disturbances might
2 Dip. Cor., 1861, 37.
1 Dip. Cor., 1861, 31.
cause foreigners some inconvenience, but he announced it as the policy of the administration to indemnify all persons suffering any injury.' These were not altogether accurate statements, but Seward believed they were; and he had made an almost perfect expression of those considerations that are of the first importance in international relations. However, it was practically impossible to shape a definite foreign policy until after it could be known what the domestic one was to be. It has already been seen how this domestic policy, like a raft upon an inlet of the sea, drifted this way and that with the tide of public opinion.
Lincoln's rejection of the programme Seward proposed on April 1st' rid it of its dangerous features. But what became of the offences-then considered to be so of Spain, of France, of Great Britain, and of
As has been mentioned, a revolution under Spanish influences had lately overthrown the Republic of Santo Domingo and proclaimed the supremacy of the mothercountry. On April 2, 1861, before he had received official information of this fact, Seward wrote to Tassara, the Spanish Minister at Washington, saying that this reported attempt "cannot fail to be taken as a first step in a policy of armed intervention by the Spanish government in the American countries which once constituted Spanish America.” There was grave significance in the following sentence:
"I am directed to inform you and the government of her Catholic Majesty, in a direct manner, that, if they [the revolutionary acts] shall be found to have received at any time the sanction of that government, the President will be obliged to regard them as manifesting an unfriendly spirit towards the United States, and to meet the further
1 Dip, Cor., 1861, 32, 33.
2 See ante, p. 132.
prosecution of enterprises of that kind in regard to either the Dominican Republic or any part of the American continent or islands, with a prompt, persistent, and, if possible, effective resistance."1
Two days later Minister Tassara made a discreet and soothing response, which did not especially change the aspect of the incident. Subsequently Spain replied so evasively that Seward anticipated that she would "in the end decide to recognize the revolution and to confirm the authority proclaimed in the island of Santo Domingo in her name." Thereupon he instructed our chargé d'affaires at Madrid to enter a protest against this assumption or exercise of authority-"a protest which, in every case, we shall expect to maintain." Our new Minister, Carl Schurz, soon asked if the administration would have approved the action if his predecessor had broken off diplomatic relations with Spain on account of what had taken place. Seward directed Schurz to confine his action to a protest. On June 22d Seward wrote again, saying that he did "not think it would be expedient to divert its [Congress's] attention from the domestic subjects for which it is convened." About a week later the Spanish Minister read to him the royal decree pronouncing the annexation of Santo Domingo to Spain; but the Secretary concluded that no further action on the part of the United States would be necessary. When Schurz requested an explicit statement of the ulterior policy of the government, he was informed by the Secretary that there had been so many important questions demanding attention that time had not been found for the full consideration of this one; so the sub
1MS. The references to the MS. diplomatic correspondence of the United States are, when not otherwise stated, to the MS. archives of the Department of State. 2 Seward to Perry, May 21, 1861. MS.
3 Schurz to Seward, June 5, 1861. MS. 4 June 10, 1861. MS. • MS. * Seward to Schurz, July 2, 1861. MS.
ject was left to Congress at its next regular session, beginning in December.' This was Seward's graceful way of escape from making good the direct threats of a few months before.
Spain pursued her own course in Santo Domingo. Instead of being a menace to the United States, although they were almost helpless, she could not consummate this little undertaking. For four years, and in vain, she poured out her money and sacrificed the lives of her soldiers in trying to get a permanent hold upon Santo Domingo; but in 1865 her rule was thrown off and the black republic revived.
France was the other power from which Seward had urged that explanations should be demanded "categor ically, at once." Lincoln's rejection of the plan seems to have had a magical effect. The instructions to our Minister and the notes to the French legation show no trace of any except the most cordial relations between the two countries. Seward even had such confidence in Mercier, the French Minister at Washington, that within one day of the time when it was suggested that France must be called to account, he "confidentially sent to Mercier a copy of the note just written to Tassara. The Secretary hoped to induce France to join us in the protest; for, he wrote, she has "an interest in the preservation of peace and order scarcely less than that which has induced this protest on the part of the United States." But France ignored his communication. Sewward solicited the co-operation of Great Britain also in opposing the annexation of Santo Domingo, and he made not the slightest allusion to the offences on her part that were regarded as so serious on April 1st. The British government, however, reluctantly accepted what
1 Seward to Schurz, August 14, 1861. MS.
3 Seward to Schurz, June 22, 1861. MS.