« PreviousContinue »
abandoning the insurgents and returning to their loyalty to the government, some attesting their sincerity, not merely by taking the oath of allegiance, but by proffering their military service in the armies of the Union. I am, sir, your very obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
Acting Secretary. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., 8-c., &C., &c.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
London, July 3, 1862. Sır: I take advantage of the absence of any despatches this week which call for reply to give you an account of a conversation which I had with an unofficial person last Saturday morning at his request.
He began by alluding to the excitement taking place in the cotton market, and the sudden increase of the demand growing out of a conviction that the supply was likely soon to fail. The effect of this upon the population of the manufacturing region was becoming more and more perceptible. It was therefore desirable to ascertain as far as possible what the prospect was of obtaining any considerable quantity from the southern States. He wished me to tell him what I could from such sources of information as were open to me.
I replied that the supply was, in my opinion, somewhat dependent on the progress of the war. So long as there was a formidable power in the field which left open the possibility of a maintenance of the rebel authority, there was scarcely a likelihood that the timid class of planters, at heart well disposed to the Union and not disinclined to convert their cotton into money, would take the risk of an open committal. As to the duration of the war, it was a matter of opinion, in regard to which he must form his own as well as I. Much would depend on the turn it might take before Richmond. The pinch was at that point, and it seemed to me that such were the necessities of the rebels, some positive result could not be very long delayed.
He said that the case was becoming very grave in Europe. A failure of this staple so vitally necessary to the subsistence of a numerous population could not take place without the risk of much difficulty. There were symptoms already of a disposition to get up agitation and to give to the discontent of the distressed operatives a political direction. He then intimated quite broadly that the governing power, as well in France as in England, was not in a condition to withstand any great severity of pressure from this quarter. I understood him as speaking from good sources of information. Indeed I can readily conjecture precisely what they are. The result might be some joint representation to the government of the United States, the nature of which he rather hinted at than described.
To this I observed that the possibility of such a proceeding had been within my contemplation. But I could not help thinking it would only have the effect of complicating the embarrassment of the parties that might undertake it. Thus far the policy of my government had been carefully con
. servative. Its object to save the country, and especially the madmen of the south, from the dangers growing out of a precipitate treatment of the realcause of the war-the political abuses of the slaveholding system. But the
time might come when forbearance would cease to be a virtue, and every other consideration would yield to the instinct of self-preservation. The government had already been compelled to go so far as to examine and explain the possibilities of its action in certain contingencies. I had communicated a despatch to Lord Russell, within a few days, which had, for the first time since I had been here, entered into a grave exposition of its views on that subject. Any action of foreign nations like that suggested could be viewed only as imparting a moral strength to this dangerous element in our social system in America, and therefore requiring a more immediate and radical extermination of it. The consequence might be a social convulsion in the southern States, which, so far from yielding relief to the necessities of Europe, would put an end to all the prospect of obtaining any from that quarter for years. I had always thought that the great error of these governments had been in not seeing at the outset that their best interests were involved in the earliest possible restoration of the authority of the United States. Had they acted in that sense the war would have been at an end before this. But their actual policy had done just enough to give a sort of moral sanction to resistance, which had kept it dragging along until now And now they were debating the expediency of a course which might, indeed, very much aggravate the distresses of all parties, but which, so far as I could see, would not end in any attainment of those objects for which it was to be professedly undertaken.
He said that this was his own view, and that he had urged it strongly elsewhere. In his opinion, the policy towards America should have been different, and the moral support of Europe so far assured to the government of the United States as to preclude any hope among the insurgents of possible assistance. But all that was over. There had been, from causes which he enumerated, a good deal of sympathy entertained for the rebel cause. Somebody had said that English people always sided with rebellion. (I might bave added, but did not, except in cases of their own.) The difficulty now was serious. He was still in hopes that at least a half million bales might come to relieve the pressure. I said that I saw great cause for believing that it would, and the late rapid rise in price would, in my opinion, do much to hasten it. At all events, he resumed, the idea had occurred to him that some manifestation should be made by the government, he did not care in what form, of its consciousness of the nature of this distress among foreign nations, and of its desire to aid in relieving it. In short, his opinion seemed to be that some rather careful friendly exposition of the whole question, as bearing upon the policy of other countries, might be of use to check the direction of popular opinion against us in Europe; for he was not sure that niost of the nations of Europe would not join in some way or other in a representation. He wished me to write thus much to you.
I promised to report the substance of the conversation, and you have the result. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secrelary of State, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 5, 1862. Sır: Your despatch of June 20 (No. 176) has been received.
It is a satisfaction to know that a copy of my despatch 260 has been received and read by Earl Russell. The subject it presents is one of momentous import. It seems as if the extreme advocates of African slavery and its most vehement opponents were acting in concert together to precipitate a servile war—the former by making the most desperate attempts to overthrow the federal Union, the latter by demanding an edict of universal emancipation as a lawful and necessary, if not, as they say, the only legitimate, way of saving the Union.
I reserve remarks upon the military situation for a day nearer to the departure of the mail. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., Sc., $c., 8c.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 7, 1862. Sir: I fear that the press, speaking as it does under the influence of a hundred various forms of excitement arising out of the incidents of the last ten days, will bewilder, if it does not for the moment confound, our representatives abroad.
The military situation is, however, clearly intelligible, and ought to be satisfactory to the cool and candid judgment of the country.
From the Mississippi we learn that after a long and vigorous bombardment of Vicksburg, Commodore Farragut passed the batteries at that place from below, and joined himself to the fleet which lay above it. Thus the last obstacle of the navigation of the Mississippi has been overcome, and it is open to trade once more under the flag of the Union from the headwaters of its tributaries near the lakes and Prince Rupert's Land to the Gulf of Mexico.
White river and the Yazoo have been cleared of all hostile armaments. We have a rumor that Vicksburg has actually been taken. But the report is premature, although we have no doubt but the capture has, before this time, occurred.
The fleet under Commodore Goldsborough has been efficient in seizing and bringing into port many British vessels carrying contraband, and insured at Lloyd's against the perils of the blockade. So that it may be expected risks of this kind will sensibly diminish. On the coast all is safe and well.
In the west General Halleck is pushing a force from Corinth eastward without any show of organized resistance to capture Chattanooga, and close the only remaining railroad communication between Richmond and the valley of
the Mississippi. This achievement will effect deliverance of Eastern Tennessee, distinguished for its loyalty, and so crown the pacification of the whole region west of the Alleghany mountains, north of Georgia and Alabama, and south of the Ohio river. But it is the vicinity of Richmond that has been the scene of military events of the intensest interest during the last two weeks, and it is that quarter that now chiefly engages the attention of the government.
General McClellan's original design for the capture of Richmond embraced à march up the peninsula from Fortress Monroe and Yorktown, supported by naval forces on both the York and the James river. The sudden appearance of the Merrimack, with her terrible power of mischief, obliged him to confine his march to the bank of the York river, with the aid of a fleet in that river alone. He had, then, the Chickahominy, with its variable flow, and its almost impassable swamps, between him and Richmond. The Pamunkey, the chief tributary of the York, afforded him navigation only to the White House, where he held his forces, twenty miles from Richmond, without any other co-operation from our naval force on both rivers there than protection they afforded to his rear. A large force that was intended to be auxiliary to the army of the Potomac was retained in front of Washington, necessarily, as it was thought, with a view to the safety of the capital against forces sent to menace it from Richmond. While General McClellan was thus obtaining a foothold on the peninsula north of the Chickahominy, the insurgents succeeded in obstructing the James river a distance of seven miles below Richmond, and in constructing fortifications at Fort Darling, up a precipitous elevation on the south bank of the James river, which rendered it impossible for the fleet on that river to remove the obstructions withont the aid of a land force to carry that fort. General McClellan was steadily, and, as it seemed, successfully, moving his army across the Chickahominy to change his base to the James river, below Fort Darling, on Wednesday last, when the insurgents concentrated large forces upon what was yet the front of the moving column, and a series of battles began which filled up seren successive days, at the end of which the general, with his army, and substantially all his material, had reached and established himself at Harrison's Bar, upon the bank of the James river, in full co-operation with the fleet of seventeen gunboats, while the insurgents have not one man-ofwar. This movement, which was a meditated, prepared one, undoubtedly became a retreat when the enemy pressed upon the withdrawing forces. The change of base involved a loss of communication for a time between the
a army and the government and the country. During this suspense, which lasted seven days, extravagant reports of disasters and losses, and the wildest alarm for even the safety of the army itself, obtained currency, and oppressed the public mind. At length we have the results so far as they
. affect the military situation. There have been immense losses, but more severe on the part of the insurgents than on that of the Union. The efficiency of the army of the latter is improved. That of the former, it is believed, is even more reduced. Every one of the battles was a repulse of the insurgents, and the two last, which closed the series, were decided victories. The army of the Potomac is rapidly receiving reinforcements from several sources, while the fleet is thought already equal in effect to an additional army. General Pope, having taken command of all the troops in Virginia, is pushing them forward from the north to cut off the railroad communication beyond the Rappahannock, and threatens them on the approach from the northwest
Within the next thirty days our navy, already large, will receive an augmentation of ten new iron-clad vessels, each equal to the Monitor.
At the same time, the President, upon the invitation of the
governors of twenty of the thirty-four States, has called out three hundred thousand men, a force amply sufficient to save all that has been gained, and sepedily close the civil strife.
You will read with interest and admiration General McClellan's modest conduct ; his firm and decisive despatches and proclamation. The governinent and popular bodies who have heretofore been so efficient in filling up th armies are already in activity, and the prompt success of the call is deemed assured. The destruction of human life which has occurred is a sad and painful theme. But it brings its compensation in a military and in a political view—aspects in which it is now our stern duty toc ontemplate it. The delusion that the soldiers of the Union would not fight for it with as much courage and resolution as its enemies will fight against it, has been one of the chief elements of the insurrection. It has now been effectually dispelled.
Secondly. If, as fatalists argue, a certain quantity of human blood must flow to appease the dreadful spirit of faction, and enable a discontented people to recover its calmness and its reason, it may be hoped that the needful sacrifice has now been made.
Thirdly. If the representative parties had now to choose whether they would have the national army where it is and as it is, or back again where it was and as it was, it is not to be doubted that the insurgents would prefer to it the position and condition on the Pamunkey, and the friends of the Union the one now attained on the bank of the James.
Fourthly. The insurgents and the world abroad will see that the virtue of the people is adequate to the responsibilities which Providence has cast
I am, sir, your
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., 8c., 8., 80.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 8, 1862. Sir: As inquiry may be made of you as to the approbation by this government of a treaty recently concluded by Mr. Corwin with the government of Mexico, by one of the stipulations of which a sum of money was to be paid to that government, I have to inform you that the instrument was submitted to the Senate, but the Committee on Foreign Relations of that body has reported adversely thereon. It is not probable, therefore, that at this session at least the Senate will advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., Sc., &-c., fr.
[Same to W. L. Dayton, No. 177.]