Page images
PDF
EPUB

reviewed the case, and instructed Adams to request that Bunch should be removed.1

In reply to the charges, Earl Russell' said that Bunch had been directed to express to the authorities of the socalled Confederacy the desire of England and France that the second, third, and fourth articles of the declaration of Paris should be observed; that he had acted on instructions, and therefore could not be dismissed. Russell disclaimed all responsibility for the assertion that the first step to the recognition of the southern states by Great Britain had been taken; her Majesty's gov ernment had not recognized, and was not prepared to recognize, the so-called Confederate States as a separate independent state.”

Seward replied on October 23d that there was a law of the United States that forbade any person not specially appointed or duly recognized by the President from taking part in any political correspondence with the government of any foreign state whatever, with an intent to influence the measures of a foreign government. Moreover, the proper persons to represent the interests of Great Britain were the diplomatic agents; nor could the United States government permit an officer exercising consular privileges by its consent to hold communications with the insurgents. Russell had implied that because Great Britain had recognized the Confederates as belligerents, she might properly treat with them in regard to the rights of neutrals. As far as Seward's attitude was concerned, this was like undertaking to strengthen a disputed claim by increasing its scope and significance; it made a denial all the more urgent. Seward boldly reasserted his determination to

1 Dip. Cor., 1861, 131–33.

"He had recently become an earl; but, because he preferred it, he continued to be called by his former title.

3

3 Dip. Cor., 1861, 156, 157.

maintain his position toward the Confederates and not to permit Great Britain to free herself from any of her obligations to the United States. "Still adhering to this position, the government of the United States will continue to pursue, as it has heretofore done, the counsels of prudence, and will not suffer itself to be disturbed by excitement. It must revoke the exequatur of the consul, who has not only been the bearer of communications between the insurgents and a foreign government, in violation of our laws, but has abused equally the confidence of the two governments by reporting, without the authority of his government, and in violation of their own policy as well as of our national rights, that the proceeding in which he was engaged was in the nature of a treaty with the insurgents, and the first step towards a recognition by Great Britain of their sovereignty."

991.

He made his victory more complete and less irritating by paying a compliment to Lord Lyons because he had “carefully respected the sovereignty and the rights of the United States," and by saying that the consular privileges that had been taken from Bunch would be "cheerfully allowed to any successor whom her Majesty may appoint, against whom no grave personal objections shall exist." Adams, with perfect tact,

Secondly, the communication of the British and French governments to the insurgent cabal at Richmond through Mr. Bunch was a proceeding that could not fail to alarm the American government and people. When the fact happened to become known to us, I had just become satisfied, though in confidential communications, that the British government was prepared to assume a tone that should repel the prevailing presumption of its inclinations to a recognition. But the offensive correspondence of the British government left us no alternative but to exercise our right to revoke the exequatur of the offending consul. It was done, however, on the grounds of his having rendered himself personally obnoxious."-Seward to Adams, November 30, 1861. MS.

[ocr errors]

communicated these sentiments to Russell. Russell regarded Adams's assertion, that the only authority in the United States to which any diplomatic communication whatever might be made was the government of the United States, as open to serious objection both on questions of law and of fact. He considered it unreasonable either to address the United States concerning some grievance in New Orleans or Galveston (which it was not within the power of the United States government to correct) or to submit to any serious hardship, actual or apprehended, without attempting to have the Confederacy redress or avert it.'

Adams warded off the blows with skill. If Russell's argument in regard to Great Britain's grievances against the Confederacy was one ad hoc, it must have meant that he thought the same diplomatic agent should be accredited to the United States and to the authorities organized for their overthrow. No self-respecting nation could admit such a practice. It was entirely true, as Russell suggested, that cases might arise in New Orleans and elsewhere which the United States government could not remedy. But in bringing forward such an argument he was taking up a two-edged sword. There are many injuries suffered by a nation's subjects in a foreign country which can only be corrected or compensated for after long periods of delay. With fine sarcasm and perfect diplomacy Adams remarked that he supposed it was Great Britain's desire to protect her interests in regions where the authority of the United States was suspended that had induced her to release the United States "from responsibility for such reclamations by adopting the policy of granting to the insurgents the rights of a belligerent."

When Seward announced the purpose of the United

1 Dip. Cor., 1862, 7–9.

States to withdraw the exequatur of Consul Bunch, that might well have been regarded as the end of the dispute, unless Great Britain intended to engage in similar negotiations in the future. Russell suggested that this might be necessary. But if it became so, the British representatives were careful to preserve perfect secrecy.

On May 20, 1861, the Secretary of State informed the Russian Minister, Edward de Stoeckl, that the official acts of Edward W. Barnwell, the acting Russian consul at Charleston, would no longer be recognized, as he had joined the military forces in an insurrection against the United States. In the instructions of the next day to Adams, Seward said that this method would be strictly followed in the future. But the exequatur of Bunch's French colleague was not revoked. The presumption is that after Seward had refused to recognize the joint action of the two powers, he thought it important not to give them a common grievance.

The whole incident was well suited to impress Great Britain and France with the idea that, whatever Seward's other qualities might be, he could not be frightened by foreign combinations. If there had been a suspicion that he would accept any serious interference rather than make good his threat about war, it waned thenceforth. In fact, the belief was spreading in Europe that he was counting on a foreign war as part of a plan of victory and reunion.

' Chief Clerk Michael to author, August 16, 1899.
2 See ante, p. 170.

CHAPTER XXXII

"KING COTTON," THE BLOCKADE, AND THE EUROPEAN INCLINATION TO INTERFERE, 1861

PERHAPS no great revolution was ever begun with such convenient and soothing theories as those that were expounded and believed at the time of the organization of the Confederacy: Probably there would be no war at all; but if there should be one, northern sympathizers with the South would make it easy for the Confederates to drive back the United States forces, if perchance they should venture upon southern soil. In any case, hostilities could not last long, for France and Great Britain must have what the Confederacy alone could supply, and therefore they could be forced to aid the South, as a condition precedent to relief from the terrible distress that was sure to follow a blockade. Of course these theories were employed to prevent the people from perceiving that the hazards of secession were more dangerous than any demonstrations the Republican administration might make against slavery. Because the prophets overlooked the possibility-soon to be a fact that the Confederacy might at first be without a single ship of war, it did not occur to them that cotton, although

(6

King," might be a suppliant monarch.

There were three distinct means by which the United States undertook to conquer the Confederacy: by military and naval operations, aimed directly at its accumulated resources; by a blockade of southern ports, so as to cut off the exchange of its money and superfluous

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »