« ForrigeFortsett »
place. If in this I am right, we can be at no loss for his lordship's sources of information. The other remark is, that the Hungarian precedent was unquestionably one in which a very strong sympathy with the insurgent party actually existed in the United States. Are we therefore to infer a similar impulse to actuate the precipitate measure now taken here 7 I did not say this to his lordship, though I might have done so; but I proceeded to observe that I had come to England prepared to present the views of my government on the general question, and that I should have done so in full but for the interposition of this more immediate despatch. At the present moment I should touch only upon one point in connexion with the acknowledgment of the insurgents even as a belligerent State. It seemed necessary to call the attention of his lordship to the fact which must be obvious to him, that as yet they had not laid any foundation for government solid enough to deserve a moment's confidence. They had undertaken to withdraw certain States from the government by an arbitrary act which they called secession, not known to the Constitution, the validity of which had at no time been acknowledged by the people of the United States, and which was now emphatically denied; but not content with this, they had gone on to substitute another system among themselves, avowedly based upon the recognition of this right of States to withdraw or secede at pleasure. With such a treaty, I would ask, where could be vested the obligation of treatics with foreign powers, of the payment of any debts contracted, or, indeed, of any act performed in good faith by the common authority for the time being established. For my own part, I fully believed that such a system could not deserve to be denominated, in any sense, a government; and therefore I could not but think any act performed here, having a tendency to invest it in the eye of the world with the notion of form and substance, could be attended only with the most complete disappointment to all the parties connected with it. His lordship here interposed by saying that there was not, in his opinion, any occasion at present for going into this class of arguments, as the government did not contemplate taking any step that way. Should any such time arrive in the future, he should be very ready to listen to every argument that might be presented against it on the part of the United States. At this moment he thought we had better confine ourselves to the matter immediately in hand. I then remarked that there was another subject upon which I had received a despatch, though I should not, after so long a conference, venture to do more than open the matter to-day. This was a proposal to negotiate in regard to the rights of neutrals in time of war. The necessary powers had been transmitted to me, together with a form of a convention, which I would do myself the honor to submit to his consideration if there was any disposition to pursue the matter further. His lordship then briefly reviewed the past action of the two countries since the meeting of the congress at Paris, and expressed the willingness of Great Britain to negotiate; but he seemed to desire to leave the subject in the hands of Lord Lyons, to whom he intimated that he had already transmitted authority to assent to any modification of the only point in issue which the government of the United States might prefer. On that matter he believed there would be no difficulty whatever. . Under these circumstances, I shall not press the subject further at this place until I receive new directions to that effect from the department. His lordship then observed that there were two points upon which he should be glad himself to be enlightened, although he did not know whether I was prepared to furnish the information. They both related to the President's proclamation of a blockade. The first question was upon the nature
of the blockade. The coast was very extensive, stretching along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico a great way. Was it the design of the United States to institute an effective blockade in its whole extent, or to make only a declaration to that effect as to the whole, and to confine the actual blockade to particular points? Considering the uniform doctrine of the government refusing to recognize the validity of mere paper blockades, he could hardly suppose they designed the latter. To this I replied that I knew nothing directly of the President's intentions On this subject; but that inasmuch as the government had always protested against mere paper blockades, I could not suppose that it was now disposed to change its doctrine. On the contrary, I had every reason for affirming that it was the intention to make an effective blockade; and this was more practicable than at first sight might appear from the fact that there were few harbors along the coast, however great its extent, and these were not very easy of access. I thought, therefore, that even though the blockade might not be perfect, it would be sufficiently so to come within the legitimate construction of the term. His lordship then alluded to the other point, which was, that the proclamation assigned no precise date for the commencement of the blockade, which he believed was necessary; but he presumed that that defect might be remedied at any time. To which I added that I did not doubt any such omission of form would be supplied as soon as it was pointed out. His lordship then made some remarks upon the adoption of the tariff; to which I replied that, in my belief, that law was mainly passed as a revenue measure, with incidental protection; that it was not in any way aimed in a hostile spirit to foreign nations; and that the people of the United States would always buy from Great Britain as much as they could pay for, and generally a good deal more. This last remark raised a smile; and thus ended his lordship's series of inquiries. Having thus disposed of these secondary questions, I returned once more to the charge, and asked him what answer I should return to the inquiry which I had been directed to make. In order to avoid any ambiguity, I took out of my pocket your despatch No. 4, and read to him the paragraph recapitulating the substance of Mr. Dallas's report of his interview, and the very last paragraph. I said that it was important to me that I should not make any mistake in reporting this part of the conversation; therefore I should beg him to furnish me with the precise language. He said that he did not himself know what he was to say. If it was expected of him to give any pledge of an absolute nature that his government would not at any future time, no matter what the circumstances might be, recognize an existing State in America, it was more than he could promise. If I wished an exact reply, my better way would be to address him the inquiry in writing. I said that I was well aware of that, but I had hoped that I might be saved the necessity of doing so. On reflection, he proposed to avoid that by offering to transmit to Lord Lyons directions to give such a reply to the President as, in his own opinion, might be satisfactory. To this arrangement I gave my assent, though not without some doubt whether I was doing right. In truth, if I were persuaded that her Majesty's government were really animated by a desire to favor the rebellion, I should demand a categorical answer; but thus far I see rather division of opinion, consequent upon the pressure of the commercial classes. Hence I preferred to give the short time demanded, as well as to place in the hands of the President himSelf the power to decide upon the sufficiency of the reply. >k >k >k >k >k >k :k >k >k >k >k >k
It may be as well to state that, both in matter and manner, the conference, which has been reported as fully and as accurately as my memory would
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEwARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
I have likewise to acknowledge the reception of a printed circular addressed to my predecessor, Mr. Dallas, and dated the 27th of April, 1861, transmitting the proclamation of the President declaring the blockade of the ports of Virginia and North Carolina. In this connexion it may be as well to call your attention to the manner in which these measures are viewed here, so far as it may be gathered from what is casually dropped by members of Parliament as well as what is published in the newspapers. A leading article in the Times newspaper of this morning is especially deserving, of attention. It would seem from this that a scheme to overturn the old and recognized British law of blockade, through the means of a joint declaration of the European powers, somewhat after the fashion of the armed neutrality of the last century, is among the things now floating in the minds of people here. Great Britain, so long known and feared as the tyrant of the ocean, is now to transform herself into a champion of neutral rights and the freedom of navigation, even into the ports of all the world, with or without regard to the interests of the nations to whom they may belong. >k >k >k >k ->k :k I beg to call your attention to the language used by Lord John Russell and by Mr. Gladstone in the debate in the House of Commons last evening, in relation to a passing remark of Sir John Ramsden upon American affairs on the preceding Monday. They indicate what I believe to be true, that the feeling toward the United States is improving in the higher circles here. It was never otherwise than favorable among the people at large. I was myself present and heard Sir John Ramsden on Monday night. His remark was partially cheered by the opposition, who were ready to receive anything favorably from a new convert; but I have reason to believe that it met with decided condemnation from a large majority of the members. The proof of this was established last night in the manner in which the castigation of Mr. Gladstone, which I also witnessed, was listened to and approved. Sir John seems to have gained no laurels in this conflict. The ministry sustained themselves in the division last night, which is, I presume, the decisive test for the year. I believe this may be regarded as a favorable result to the
United States. I shall reserve some general observations on the subject for
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
No. 14.] DEPARTMENT of STATE,
SIR : Your despatch of May 17 (No. 1) has been received. Your speech at Liverpool was equally prudent and happy. Your prompt. ness in passing through the town to the seat of government, although to be regretted in some respects, is, in view of the circumstances, approved. Every instruction you have received from this department is full of evidence of the fact that the principal danger in the present insurrection which the President has apprehended was that of foreign intervention, aid, or sympathy; and especially of such intervention, aid, or sympathy on the part of the government of Great Britain. The justice of this apprehension has been vindicated by the following facts, namely: 1. A guarded reserve on the part of the British secretary of state, when Mr. Dallas presented to him our protest against the recognition of the insurgents, which seemed to imply that, in some conditions, not explained to us, such a recognition might be made. 2. The contracting of an engagement by the government of Great Britain with that of France, without consulting us, to the effect that both governments should adopt one and the same course of procedure in regard to the insurrection. 3. Lord John Russell’s announcement to Mr. Dallas that he was not unwilling to receive the so-called commissioners of the insurgents unofficially 4. The issue of the Queen's proclamation, remarkable, first, for the circumstances under which it was made, namely, on the very day of your arrival in London, which had been anticipated so far as to provide for your reception by the British secretary, but without affording you the interview promised before any decisive action should be adopted; secondly, the tenor of the proclamation itself, which seems to recognize, in a vague manner, indeed, but does seem to recognize, the insurgents as a belligerent national power. That proclamation, unmodified and unexplained, would leave us no alternative but to regard the government of Great Britain as questioning our free exercise of all the rights of self-defence guaranteed to us by our Constitution and the laws of nature and of nations to suppress the insurrection. I should have proceeded at once to direct you to communicate to the British government the definitive views of the President on the grave subject, if there were not especial reasons for some little delay. These reasons are, first, Mr. Thouvenel has informed our representative at Paris that the two governments of Great Britain and France were preparing, and would, without delay, address communications to this government concerning the attitude to be assumed by them in regard to the insurrection. Their communications are hourly expected. Second. You have already asked, and, it is presumed, will have obtained, an interview with the British secretary, and will have been able to present
the general views of this government, and to learn definitely the purposes.of Great Britain in the matter, after it shall have learned how unsatisfactory the action of the British government hitherto has been to the government of the United States. The President is solicitous to show his high appreciation of every demonstration of consideration for the United States which the British government feels itself at liberty to make. He instructs me, therefore, to say that the prompt and cordial manner in which you were received, under peculiar circumstances arising out of domestic afflictions which had befallen her Majesty and the secretary of state for foreign affairs, is very gratifying to this government. A year ago the differences which had partially estranged the British and the American people from each other seemed to have been removed forever. It is painful to reflect that that ancient alienation has risen up again under circumstances which portend great social evils, if not disaster, to both countries. Referring you to previous instructions, and reserving further directions until we shall have your own report of the attitude of the British government as defined by itself for our consideration, I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, - WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLEs FRANCIs ADAMs, Esq., &c., d.c., &c,
- Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
No. 5.] LEGATION of THE UNITED STATEs, London, June 7, 1861.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your several despatches, No. 7, of the 11th of May, with copies of the correspondence relating to the slave trade and to San Domingo; No. 8, of the 20th, enclosing the commission of Neil McLachlan, esq., as consul at Leith ; and No. 9, of the 21st, enclosing the commission of Edward Leavenworth, esq., as consul at Sydney, New South Wales. These commissions have been duly transmitted to her Majesty's secretary for foreign affairs, with the customary request for recognition. The earlier papers have been carefully read, and will be made the subject of consideration at the next conference, which I purpose to ask of his lordship at an early day.
I think I can report with confidence a considerable amelioration of sentiment here towards the government of the United States. This may be partly ascribed to the impression made by the news received of vigorous and effective measures in America, and partly to a sense that the preceding action of her Majesty's ministers has been construed to mean more than they intended by it. It cannot be denied that it had opened a most grave question touching the use that might be made of all the ports of Great Britain as a shelter for captures by privateers purporting to be authorized by the rebellious States. After a careful examination of the subject, I had come to the conclusion that, without some further positive action, the preceding practice in this country would authorize the retention of such captures until condemned as prizes in some admiralty court set up by the insurgents at home and the sale of them afterwards. The effect of this, in giving them encouragement, can scarcely be estimated. It would at once enlist in their behalf most of the daring and desperate adventurers of every nation, whose sole object is plunder, and would initiate a struggle between