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surmount all our present complications, and preserve the government complete, perfect, and sound, for the benefit of future generations. But the integrity of any nation is lost, and its fate becomes doubtful, whenever strange hands, and instruments unknown to the Constitution, are employed to perform the proper functions of the people, established by the organic laws of the State. Hoping to have no occasion hereafter to speak for the hearing of friendly nations upon the topics which I have now discussed, I add a single remark by way of satisfying the British government that it will do wisely by leaving us to manage and settle this domestic controversy in our own way. The fountains of discontent in any society are many, and some lie much deeper than others. Thus far this unhappy controversy has disturbed only those which are nearest the surface. There are others which lie still deeper that may yet remain, as we hope, long undisturbed. If they should be reached, no one can tell how or when they could be closed. It was foreign intervention that opened and that alone could open similar fountains in the memorable French revolution. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD, CHARLEs F. ADAMs, déc., d.c., doc.
I have not deemed it necessary to ask a special interview to communicate to Lord John Russell the sense entertained by the President of the manner of my reception here, as directed in yours of the 3d of June. Presuming it to be altogether likely that another despatch, prepared after the reception of my No. 2, is now near at hand, I have preferred to wait and see if that may not give me other matter to submit at the same time.
The intelligence received from the United States of the effect produced by the reception of the Queen's proclamation has not been without its influence upon opinion here. Whilst people of all classes unite in declaring that such a measure was unavoidable, they are equally earnest in disavowing any inferences of want of good will which may have been drawn from it. They affect to consider our complaints as very unreasonable, and are profuse in their professions of sympathy with the government in its present struggle. This is, certainly, a very great change from the tone prevailing when I first arrived. It is partly to be ascribed to the accounts of the progress of the war, but still more to the publications in the London Times of the letters of its special correspondent. There is no longer any floating doubt of the capacity of the government to sustain itself, or any belief that the insurgents will make their own terms of accommodation. The idea still remains quite general that there will never be any actual conflict, and it is connected in many cases with an apprehension that the reunion may be cemented upon the basis of hostile measures against Great Britain. Indeed, such has been the motive hinted at by more than one person of influence as guiding the policy of the President himself. Whenever such a suggestion has been made to me, I have been careful to discountenance it altogether, and to affirm that the struggle was carried on in good faith, and from motives not subject to be affected by mere considerations of policy, or by temporary emotions. More especially have I endeavored to disavow any “arrière pensée” which has the effect to confirm the suspicion of our sincerity, I regret to say, by far too much disseminated. >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k
I am now earnestly assured on all sides that the sympathy with the government of the United States is general; that the indignation felt in America is not founded in reason; that the British desire only to be perfectly neutral, giving no aid nor comfort to the insurgents. I believe that this sentiment is now growing to be universal. It inspires her Majesty's ministers, and is not without its effect on the opposition. Neither party would be so bold as to declare its sympathy with a cause based upon the extension of slavery, for that would at once draw upon itself the indignation of the great body of the people. But the development of a positive spirit in the opposite direction will depend far more upon the degree in which the arm of the government enforces obedience than upon any absolute affinity in sentiments. Our brethren in this country, after all, are much disposed to fall in with the opinion of Voltaire, that “Dieu est toujours sur le coté des gros canons.” General Scott and an effective blockading squardron will be the true agents to keep the peace abroad, as well as to conquer one at home. In the meanwhile the self-styled commissioners of the insurgents have transferred their labors to Paris, where, I am told, they give out what they could not venture publicly to say here, that this government will recognize them as a State. The prediction may be verified, it is true; but it is not now likely to happen, under any other condition than the preceding assent of the United States.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
My interview with his lordship was intended only to express to him the views entertained by the President, as communicated to me in your despatches No. 14 and No. 15 of the reports made by me of our first conference. His lordship said that he had just received despatches as late as the 15th, communicating the same information, and that Lord Lyons had learned, through another member of the diplomatic corps, that no further expression of opinion on the subject in question would be necessary. This led to the most frank and pleasant conversation which I have yet had with his lordship, in which we reviewed the various points of difficulty that had arisen in a manner too desultory to admit of reporting, excepting in the general result. :k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k k I added that I believed the popular feeling in the United States would subside the moment that all the later action on this side was known. There was but a single drawback remaining, which was what I could not but regard as the inopportune despatch of the Great Eastern with the troops for Canada. He said that this was a mere precaution against times of trouble. >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k >k His lordship then said something about difficulties in New Granada, and the intelligence that the insurgents had undertaken to close several of their ports. But the law officers here told him that this could not be done as against foreign nations, excepting by the regular form of blockade. He did not know what we thought about it, but he had observed that some such plan was said to be likely to be adopted, at the coming meeting of Congress, in regard to the ports of those whom we considered as insurgents. I replied that such was one of the several projects reported at the last session of Congress, to which I was a member, but I had heard some serious constitutional objections raised against it. My own opinion was that the blockade would be persevered in, which would obviate all difficulty. On the whole, I think I can say that the relations of the two countries are gradually returning to a more friendly condition. My own reception has been all that I could desire. I attach value to this, however, only as it indicates the establishment of a policy that will keep us at peace during the continuance of the present convulsion. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
No. 32.] DEPARTMENT of STATE, Washington, July 1, 1861.
SIR: Your despatch No. 8 (dated June 14) has been received.
My despatch, No. 21, of 19th ultimo, has anticipated the matter you have discussed in the paper before me. It remains only to say that while we would prefer to add Mr. Marcy's amendment, exempting private property of non-belligerents from confiscation in maritime war, and desire you to stipulate to that effect if you can, yet we are, nevertheless, ready and willing to accede to the declaration of the congress of Paris, if the amendment cannot be obtained. In other words, we stand on the instructions contained in my aforesaid despatch.
We, as you are well aware, have every desire for a good understanding with the British government. It causes us no concern that the government sends a naval force into the Gulf and a military force into Canada. We can have no designs hostile to Great Britain so long as she does not, officially or unofficially, recognize the insurgents or render them aid or Sympathy. We regard the measures of precaution on her part, to which I have alluded, as consequences of the misunderstanding of our rights and her own real relation towards us that she seemed precipitately to adopt, before she heard the communication with which you were charged on our behalf. These consequences may be inconvenient to herself, but are not all Occasion of irritation to the United States. Under present circumstances, the more effectually Great Britain guards her possessions and her commerce in this quarter the better we shall be satisfied. If she should change her Course and do us any injury, which we have not the least idea now that she
purposes to do, we should not be deterred from vindicating our rights and
our unbroken sovereignty against all the armies and navies that she could send here.
Before the Queen's proclamation was issued, and at the moment when privateers were invited and a naval force announced as being organized by the insurrectionists, it was reported to this government that the iron steamer Peerless, lying at Toronto, had been sold to insurgents to be used as a privateer to prey upon our commerce, and that she was, nevertheless, to pass under British papers and the British flag down the St. Lawrence to be delivered over to a pirate commander in the open sea. It was said that the governor general declined to interfere. I asked Lord Lyons to request the governor general of Canada to look into the facts, and prevent the departure of the vessel if he should find the report to be true. Lord Lyons answered that he had no authority to do so. I then said that I should direct our naval forces to seize and detain the vessel if they should have good reason to believe the facts reported to be true, and to refer the parties interested to this government. I did this at once, and his lordship protested. Afterwards, as we understand, the governor general did interfere, and the Peerless was prevented from sailing until the danger of her being converted into a pirate was prevented. Here the matter ended. Certainly the British government could not expect us to permit the St. Lawrence to become a harbor for buccaneers. Had the vessel been seized or detained we should at once have avowed the act and tendered any satisfaction to the British government if it should appear that the character of the vessel had been misunderstood.
Mr. Ashmun went to Canada to watch and prevent just such transactions as the sale or fitting out of the Peerless for a pirate would have been. It was not supposed that his visit there would be thought objectionable, or could give any uneasiness to the British government. Lord Lyons here viewed the subject in a different light and complained of it. I instantly recalled Mr. Ashmun.
These are the two grievances presented to you by Lord John Russell. I trust that the British government will be satisfied that in both cases we were only taking care that the peace of the two countries should not be disturbed through the unlawful action of covetous and ill-disposed persons on the border which separates them.
I conclude with the remark that the British government can never expect
to induce the United States to acquiesce in her assumed position of this government as divided in any degree into two powers for war more than for peace. At the same time, if her Majesty's government shall continue to practice absolute forbearance from any interference in our domestic affairs, we shall not be captious enough to inquire what name it gives to that forbearance, or in what character it presents itself before the British nation in doing so. We hold ourselves entitled to regard the forbearance as an act of a friendly power, acting unconsciously of a domestic disturbance among us, of which friendly States can take no cognizance. On this point our views are not likely to undergo any change. In maintaining this position we are sure we do nothing derogating from the dignity of the British government, while we inflexibly maintain and preserve the just rights and the honor of the United States.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., d.c., d.c., d.c.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
No. 14.] LEGATION of THE UNITED STATEs, London, July 12, 1861.
SIR: Your despatches, from No. 2 to No. 25, inclusive, were received at this office early in the present week.
I have read the first of these papers, containing further instructions to me, and dated on the 21st of June, with close attention. My prevailing feeling has been one of profound surprise at the course of this government throughout the present difficulty. First. It prepares, in the form of an instruction to Lord Lyons, a paper to be presented to you, among other things “virtually asking you to concede the principles laid down in the declaration of the congress held in Paris in 1856.” Secondly. When in obedience to my instructions I propose to offer a project to Lord John Russell, actually designed to do the very thing desired, I am told the directions have already been sent out to Lord Lyons to arrange the matter on the basis proposed by the American government of the three articles, omitting the fourth altogether. Thirdly. Lord Lyons expresses the opinion to you that his instructions do not authorize him to enter into a convention with you in the United States. Fourthly. When, concurrently with these events, Mr. Dayton proposes to negotiate on the same basis with France, I am informed that this proposal has been communicated to the ministry here, and that no definite conclusion had been arrived at. I must say that a more remarkable series of misunderstandings has seldom come within my observation.
I now propose to bring this matter to a distinct issue. To this end I have addressed a letter to Lord John Russell, to know whether, under the renewed instructions of the present despatch, he is disposed to open the negotiation here. The advantage of this will be that I shall get an answer in writing, which will admit of no misconception. A copy of that answer will be forwarded so soon as it is received.
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I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, déc., d.c., &c.
Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
No. 17.] LEGATION of THE UNITED STATEs, London, July 19, 1861. SIR : Your despatch, No. 32, dated the 1st of July, relating to the communications between the two governments respecting the declaration of the convention at Paris, in 1856, reached me soon after I had addressed a formal letter to Lord John Russell, designed to bring the matter to a definite point. In my No. 14, dated on the 12th, I stated the fact that I had sent such a letter, and I promised that I would forward his lordship's answer so soon as it should be received. I now transmit copies of my letter and of the answer. It is not a little singular that his lordship's memory of what passed at our first interview on this subject should differ so widely from mine. It would seem, by his account, that he had been the first to mention the instructions to Lord Lyons to propose a negotiation on the subject of the declaration of Paris, and that I had thereupon expressed the opinion that it would be well to leave it in your hands, in which opinion he fully concurred.