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ANNUAL MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT
FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS,
Mr. Dayton to Mr. Sewurd.
[Extract.] No. 336.)
Paris, August 21, 1863. Sir: Your despatch No. 378 has been duly received, and I have called Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys's attention to the subject therein referred to. He assures me that France has no purpose or design upon the independence of the republic of Ecuador. That should any change in its territory take place, or should it be absorbed in another government, as in the republic of Colombia, this would not, in the language of Baron Gowry du Roslan, their minister, pass unobserved by the government of France, but its observation of such events would apply only to such change of ministers or agents as the absorption of two governments into one might render necessary. If they had any claims against the country or territory so absorbed, they would reserve the right to press them, of course. But he said he recollected nothing of a special character in the despatches of Baron Gowry du Roslan on these subjects; he would, however, examine them further.
It is not improbable or unnatural that, in view of the course of France in Mexico, the republics of Central America may have become alarmed for their future. They look, therefore, with great suspicion and distrust upon the language of all French officials, which seems to imply a purpose upon the part of the Emperor to interfere further.
In this connexion I should add, that Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys took occasion again to say that France had no purpose in Mexico other than heretofore stated; that she did not mean to appropriate permanently any part of that country, and that she should leave it as soon as her griefs were satisfied, and she could do so with honor. In the abandon of a conversation somewhat familiar I took occasion to say that in quitting Mexico she might leave a puppet behind her. He said no; the strings would be too long to work. He added they had had enough of colonial experience in Algeria ; that the strength of France was in her compact body and well-defined boundary. In that condition she had her resources always at command. There is much force in the suggestion, as applied to this government, which is so emphatically a military power.
You will put upon this conversation as to Mexico your own construction, and draw your own inferences. It seemed to me, however, that Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys was disposed to avail himself of the opportunity to relieve, as far as possible, the suspicion and distrust which our government might, from late events, naturally entertain of the purposes of France in that country.
WM. L. DAYTON.
I am, sir, your obedient servant, Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward. No. 334.
Paris, August 20, 1863. SIR: I read to Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys to-day your despatch No. 380, expressing the sentiment of the President in reference to the explanation in the “ Moniteur" of the views and purposes of the Emperor in respect to the south, and bis conversation with Messrs. Roebuck and Lindsay. ii
I furthermore reminded Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys of the fact that your despatch, which stated that our government would consider the acknowledgment of the south as an unfriendly act, was but the re-assertion of that which had been said to him before. In answer, he said that any discussion of this subject was now “ academic” only, leading to nothing practical; but that he would submit the contents of your despatch to the Emperor. For this purpose I left with him, at his request, a copy.
Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys took occasion again to say that he much regretted that that private conversation had been made public. I told him that I feared the effect had been to occasion an unpleasant distrust among my countrymen as to the feelings and purposes of his majesty, and that this publication in the “ Moniteur" was calculated not to diminish, but to strengthen that distrust. I told him it looked very much as if the Emperor were prompting Great Britain to acknowledge the south, by suggesting that France would foliow; it was a sort of informal offer of alliance for a purpose unfriendly to us. He said that this was not, in fact, so, though the explanation in the “Moniteur" might possibly bear such a construction; but he said the Emperor had been answering Mr. Roebuck's averment that England would not acknowledge the confederates because she feared France would not follow. His intended answer was, in substance: England has no right to say so, because my proposition for mediation is all that has been done, and that was declined by her. He meant, in what he said, to imply that each country should bear its own burdens. But Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys then added, this all grows out of the wrongful publication of a mere private unofficial conversation. There is no doubt, said he, that in such conversation the Emperor would, through a natural courtesy, rather lean towards the views or prepossessions of the parties with whom he was talking, and when it became necessary for him to explain in the “Moniteur " what the conversation actually was, “ he would not falsify." But, said Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys, if propositions had been made in an official shape, calling for action, he would probably have been more guarded, and given to them a different, or, at least, more grave consideration; he might have said no, these things demanded reflection.
The above is the substance of the conversation on this point, although more passed, but nothing of an importance demanding or justifying my reducing it to writing in the form of a despatch. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WM. L. DAYTON. Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, fr., fr., fr.
Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward. No. 337.)
Paris, August 25, 1863. Sir: I was telegraphed yesterday by our vice-consul at Brest that the rebel steamer Florida, with her machinery damaged, had come into that port for repairs; that she had a crew of 128 men and 24 passengers. The telegraphic operator announced from Queenstown on the 18th that this vessel was off Kinsale on the preceding day, and had there transferred three of her passengers to a pilot-boat. Immediately on receiving notice of her presence in the roadstead of Brest, I went to the foreign office, but, unfortunately, Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys had left Paris for a week's absence, and left no person specially in charge of the foreign department. Under the circumstances, therefore, I saw M. le Baron d'André, chief of the cabinet of the ministry of foreign affairs, and protested against any favor or hospitality being extended to this piratical vessel. He said, however, that France, like England, had recognized the confederates as belligerents. I told him that my government had not, and therefore I made the protest in this form ; but if, in recognizing them as belligerents, the government of France should feel constrained to afford them any relief, I suggested that it should be confined within the narrowest limits that humanity would dictate. I told him that if relief were extended beyond the most restricted bounds, France would soon find that this was but the beginning of the end ;" that one of her ports had now been chosen as a rendezvous in preference to a port of England, under the impression, I presumed, that they would be better received.
Baron d'André said he had no authority in the premises, and could do no more than refer our conversation to the minister, but he presumed that what was permitted to be done in her behalf woud be restricted within the narrowest limits dictated by the rule in such cases.
I have this day sent out a note to the minister, informing him that I had learned that the Florida had come into Brest, not for repairs of machinery only, but for coal, which had been denied to her at Bermuda, from which port she had come. The fact is, that as she is a good sailing vessel, and has crossed the Atlantic, as I believe, principally by that means, neither coal nor machinery is necessary to her safety, although a great convenience, doubtless, in enabling her to prey upon our commerce. It may well be doubted whether the rule which limits aid in such cases, to what is called for by necessity and humanity, applies at all to her case.
I should add that I have telegraphed to Cherbourg, Lisbon, Cadiz, and Gibraltar, in the hope of finding the frigate Macedonia, or some other of our shipsof-war, within reach, but I can find none. The Constellation, a sailing ship, is somewhere in the Mediterranean. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WM. L. DAYTON. Hon. William H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State, gr., fr., fc. P. S.—Enclosed is a copy of the note sent by me this day to the department of foreign affairs.
Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward. No. 338.]
PARIS, August 27, 1863. SIR: I have recently had interviews with Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys in reference to the two iron-clad vessels now being built at Birkenhead, near Liverpool, by the Messrs. Laird, for the rebels of the south, as was believel. Our consul at Liverpool was induced to think that by virtue of a sham sale to a Frenchman named Bravay they were about to get out the vessels, or one of them, as French property, and under the French flag, to be handed over, when clear of British jurisdiction, to the confederates, their true owners. Lord Palmerston said, too, in the House of Commons, that he was informed that the French government, through its consul at Liverpool, claimed one of these iron-clads. I at once appealed to Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys to prevent what I believed intended a fraudujent use of the French flag. He promised me to attend to the subject promptly. But he said he knew Mr. Bravay, and was aware of the fact that the Pacha of Egypt, with whom Bravay had much to do, had authorized him or his company to buy ships for him, the Pacha, either in France or England. In a subsequent interview Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys told me he had made all necessary inquiries, and that neither the Emperor, the minister of marine, the minister of finance, nor the French consul at Liverpool knew anything of any claim to such vessel or vessels on the part of the French government; and that a statement to that effect by Lord Palmerston, as reported in the London Times, must have been Inade on erroneous information. I then endeavored to impress on Mr. Drouyn