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Tennessee aloof from active participation in the secession movement.
The months of May and June were devoted to the most active and vigorous preparations on both sides for the contest which was seen to be inevitable. Over a hundred thousand troops had been raised and organized in the rebel States, and the great mass of them had been pushed forward towards the Northern border. On the 20th of April, the Government of the United States seized all the dispatches which had accumulated in the telegraph offices during the preceding year, for the purpose of detecting movements in aid of the rebel conspiracy. On the 27th of April the blockade of rebel ports was extended by proclamation to the ports of North Carolina and Virginia. On the 3d of May the President issued a proclamation calling into the service of the United States forty-two thousand and thirty-four volunteers for three years, and ordering an addition of twenty-two thousand one hundred and fourteen officers and men to the regular army, and eighteen thousand seamen to the navy. And on the 16th, by another proclamation, he directed the commander of the United States forces in Florida to "permit no person to exercise any office or authority upon the islands of Key West, Tortugas, and Santa Rosa, which may be inconsistent with the laws and Constitution of the United States; authorizing him, at the same time, if he shall find it necessary, to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and to remove from the vicinity of the United States fortresses all dangerous and suspected persons."
One of the first duties of the new Administration was to define the position to be taken by the Government of the United States towards foreign nations in view of the rebellion. While it is impossible to enter here upon this very wide branch of the general subject at any considerable length, this history would be incomplete if it did not state, in official language, the attitude which the President decided to assume. That is very distinctly set forth in the letter of instructions prepared by the Secretary of State for Mr. Adams, on the eve of his departure for
the court of St. James, and dated April 10, in the following terms :—
Before considering the arguments you are to use, it is important to indicate those which you are not to employ in executing that mission:-First. The President has noticed, as the whole American people have, with much emotion, the expressions of good-will and friendship towards the United States, and of concern for their present embarrassments, which have been made on apt occasions, by her Majesty and her ministers. You will make due acknowledgment for these manifestations, but at the same time you will not rely on any mere sympathies or national kindness. You will make no admissions of weakness in our Constitution, or of apprehension on the part of the Government. You will rather prove, as you easily can, by comparing the history of our country with that of other States, that its Constitution and Government are really the strongest and surest which have ever been erected for the safety of any people. You will in no caso listen to any suggestions of compromise by this Government, under foreign auspices, with its discontented citizens. If, as the President does not at all apprehend, you shall unhappily find her Majesty's Government tolerating the application of the so-called seceding States, or wavering about it, you will not leave them to suppose for a moment that they can grant that application and remain the friends of the United States. You may even assure them promptly, in that case, that if they determine to recognize, they may at the same time prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of this Republic. You alone will represent your country at London, and you will represent the whole of it there. When you are asked to divide that duty with others, diplomatic relations between the Government of Great Britain and this Government will be suspended, and will remain so until it shall be seen which of the two is most strongly intrenched in the confidence of their respective nations and of mankind. You will not be allowed, however, even if you were disposed, as the President is sure you will not be, to rest your opposition to the application of the Confederate States on the ground of any favor this Administration, or the party which chiefly called it into existence, proposes to show to Great Britain, or claims that Great Britain ought to show them. You will not consent to draw into debate before the British Government any opposing moral principles which may be supposed to lie at the foundation of the controversy between those States and the Federal Union.
You will indulge in no expressions of harshness or disrespect, or even impatience, concerning the seceding States, their agents, or their people. But you will, on the contrary, all the while remember that those States are now, as they always heretofore have been, and, notwithstanding their temporary self-delusion, they must always continue to be, equal and honored members of this Federal Union, and that their citizens throughout all political misunderstandings and alienations still are and always
must be our kindred and countrymen. In short, all your arguments must belong to one of three classes, namely: First. Arguments drawn from the principles of public law and natural justice, which regulate the intercourse of equal States. Secondly. Arguments which concern equally the honor, welfare, and happiness of the discontented States, and the honor, welfare, and happiness of the whole Union. Thirdly. Arguments which are equally conservative of the rights and interests, and even sentiments of the United States, and just in their bearing upon the rights, interests, and sentiments of Great Britain and all other nations.
Just previous to the arrival of Mr. Adams at his post, the British Government determined, acting in concert with that of France, to recognize the rebels as a belligerent power. Against this recognition our Government directed Mr. Adams to make a decided and energetic protest. On the fifteenth of June the British and French Ministers at Washington requested an interview with the Secretary of State for the purpose of reading to him certain instructions they had received on this subject from their respective governments. Mr. Seward declined to hear them officially until he knew the nature of the document, which was accordingly left with him for perusal, and he afterwards declined altogether to hear it read, or receive official notice of it. In a letter to Mr. Adams, on the 19th, he thus states its character and contents:
That paper purports to contain a decision at which the British Government has arrived, to the effect that this country is divided into two belligerent parties, of which the Government represents one, and that Great Britain assumes the attitude of a neutral between them.
This Government could not, consistently with a just regard for the sov ereignty of the United States, permit itself to debate these novel and extraordinary positions with the Government of her Britannic Majesty ; much less can we consent that that Government shall announce to us a decision derogating from that sovereignty, at which it has arrived without previously conferring with us upon the question. The United States are still solely and exclusively sovereign within the territories they have lawfully acquired and long possessed, as they have always been. They are at peace with all the world, as, with unimportant exceptions, they have always been. They are living under the obligations of the law of nations, and of treaties with Great Britain, just the same now as heretofore; they are, of course, the friend of Great Britain, and they insist that Great Britain shall remain their friend now, just as she has hitherto been. Great Britain, by virtue of these relations, is a stranger to parties and sections in this
country, whether they are loyal to the United States or not, and Great Britain can neither rightfully qualify the sovereignty of the United States, nor concede, nor recognize any rights or interests or power of any party, State, or section, in contravention to the unbroken sovereignty of the Federal Union. What is now seen in this country is the occurrence, by no means peculiar, but frequent in all countries-more frequent even in Great Britain than here-of an armed insurrection engaged in attempting to overthrow the regularly constituted and established Government. There is, of course, the employment of force by the Government to suppress the insurrection, as every other government necessarily employs force in such cases. But these incidents by no means constitute a state of war impairing the sovereignty of the Government, creating belligerent sections, and entitling foreign States to intervene, or to act as neutrals between them, or in any other way to cast off their lawful obligations to the nation thus for the moment disturbed. Any other principle than this would be to resolve government everywhere into a thing of accident and caprice, and ultimately all human society into a state of perpetual
We do not go into any argument of fact or of law in support of the positions we have thus assumed. They are simply the suggestions of the instinct of self-defence, the primary law of human action-not more the law of individual than of National life.
Similar views were presented for the consideration of the French Emperor, and, indeed, of all the foreign governments with which we held diplomatic intercourse. The action of the seceding States was treated as rebellion, purely domestic in its character, upon the nature or merits of which it would be unbecoming in us to hold any discussion with any foreign Power. The President pressed upon all those governments the duty of accepting this view of the question, and of abstaining, consequently, from every act which could be construed into any recognition of the rebel Confederacy, or which could embarrass the Government of the United States in its endeavors to re-establish its rightful authority. Especial pains were taken, by the most emphatic declarations, to leave no doubt in the mind of any foreign statesman as to the purpose of the people of the United States to accomplish that result. "You cannot be too decided or explicit, was the uniform language of the Secretary, "in making known to the Government that there is not now, nor has
there been, nor will there be, any the least idea existing in this Government of suffering a dissolution of this Union to take place in any way whatever." Efforts were also made by our Government to define, with the precision which the novel features of the case required, the law of nations in regard to neutral rights, and also to secure a general concurrence of the maritime powers in the principles of the Paris Convention of 1859: the latter object was, however, thwarted by the demand made by both France and England, that they should not be required to abide by these principles in their application to the internal conflict which was going on in the United States. This demand the President pronounced inadmissible.