Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

caused, as Earl Russell afterwards explained, by the “sudden development of a malady of the Queen's ad. vocate, totally incapacitating him for the transaction of business,” the vessel, whose managers were duly advertised of every thing that was going on, slipped out of port, took on board an armament in the Azores, and entered the rebel service as a privateer. Our Government subsequently notified the British Government that it would be held responsible for all the damage which this vessel, known first as “290," and afterwards as the Alabama, might inflict on American commerce.

Discussions were had upon the refusal of the British authorities to permit American vessels of war to take in coal at Nassau, upon the systematic attempts of British merchants to violate our blockade of Southern ports, and upon the recapture, by the crew, of the Emily St. Pierre, which had been seized in attempting to run the blockade at Charleston, and was on her way as a prize to the port of New York. The British Government vindicated her rescue as sanctioned by the principles of international law.

The only incident of special importance which occurred during the year in our foreign relations, grew out of an attempt on the part of the Emperor of the French to secure a joint effort at mediation between the Government of the United States and the rebel authorities, on the part of Great Britain and Russia in connection with his own Government. Rumors of such an intention on the part of the Emperor led Mr. Dayton to seek an interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the 6th of November, at which indications of such a purpose were apparent. The attempt failed, as both the other powers consulted declined to join in any such action. The French Government thereupon determined to take action alone, and on the 9th of January, 1863, the Foreign Secretary wrote to the French Minister at Washington a dispatch, declaring the readiness of the French Emperor to do any thing in his power which might tend towards the termination of the war, and suggesting that “nothing would hinder the Government of the United States, without renouncing the advantages which it believes it can attain by a continuation of the war, from entering upon informal conferences with the Confederates of the South, in case they should show themselves disposed thereto.” The specific advantages of such a conference, and the mode in which it was to be brought about, were thus set forth in this dispatch :

Representatives or commissioners of the two parties could assemble at such point as it should be deemed proper to designate, and which could, for this purpose, be declared neutral. Reciprocal complaints could be examined into at this meeting. In place of the accusations which North and South mutually cast upon each other at this time, would be substituted an argumentative discussion of the interests which divide them. They would seek out by means of well-ordered and profound deliberations whether these interests are definitively irreconcilable-whether separation is an estreine which can no longer be avoided, or whether the inemories of a cominon existence, whether the ties of any kind which have made of the North and of the South one sole and whole Federative State, and have borne thein on to so high a degree of prosperity, are not more powerful than the causes which have placed arms in the hands of the two populations. A negotiation, the object of which would be thus determinate, would not involve any of the objections raised against the diplomatic interventions of Europe, and, without giving birth to the same hopes as the immediate conclusion of an armistice, would exercise a happy influence on the march of events.

Why, therefore, should not a combination which respects all the relations of the United States obtain the approbation of the Federal Guvernment} Persuaded on our part that it is in conforinity with their true interests, we do not hesitate to recommend it to their attention; and, not having sought in the project of a mediation of the maritime powers of Europe any vain display of influence, we would applaud, with entire freedom from all susceptibility of self-esteem, the opening of a negotiation which would invite the two populations to discuss, without the co-operation of Europe, the solution of their differences.

IN

TU

The reply which the President directed to be made to this proposition embraces so many points of perinanent interest and importance in connection with his Administration, that we give it in full. It was as follows:

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON. February ( 1863. SIR:--The intimation given in your dispatch of January 15th, that I might expect a special visit from M. Mercier, has been realized. lle called on the 3d instant, and gave me a copy of a dispatch whicis le had just then received from M. Drouyn de l’linys under the date of the 9th of January. I have taken the President's instructions, and I now proceed to give yon his views upon the subject in question.

It has been considered with seriousness, resulting from the reflection that the people of France are known to be faultless sbarers with the American nation in the misfortunes and calamities of our unhappy civil war; nor do we on this, any more than on other occasions, forget the traditional friendship of the two countries, which we unhesitatingly believe has inspired the counsels that M. Drouyn de l'Huys has imparted.

He says, “the Federal Government does not despair, we know, of giv. ing more active impulse to hostilities;" and again he remarks, “the protraction of the struggle, in a word, las not shaken the confidence (of the Federal Government) in the definite success of its efforts."

These passages seem to me to do unintentional injustice to the language, whether confidential or public, in which this Government has constantly spoken on the subject of the war. It certainly has had and avowed only one purposema determination to preserve the integrity of the country. So far from admitting any laxity of effort, or betraying any despondency, the Governnient has, on the contrary, borne itself cheerfully in all vicissitudes, with unwavering confidence in an early and coinplete triumph of the national cause. Vow, when we are, in a manner, invited by a friendly power to review the twenty-one months' history of the conflict, we find no occasion to abate that confidence. Through such an alternation of victories and defeats as is the appointed incident of every war, the land and naval forces of the United States have steadily advanced, reclaimning from the insurgents the ports, forts, and posts which they had treacherously seized before the strife actually began, and even before it was seriously apprehended. So many of the States and districts which the insorgents included in the field of their projected exclusive slaveholding dominions have already been re-established under the flag of the Union, that they now retain only the States of Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, with half of Virginia, half of North Carolina, two-thirds of South Carolina, half of Mississippi, and one-third respectively of Arkansas and Louisiana. The national forces hold even this small territory in close blockade and siege.

This Governinent, if required, does not hesitate to submit its achievements to tlie test of comparison; and it maintains that in no part of the world, and in no times, ancient or modern, has a nation, when rendered all unready for combat by the enjoyment of eighty years of almost unbroken peace, so quickly awakened at the alarm of sedition, put forth energies so vigorous, and achieved successes so signal and effective as those which have marked the progress of this contest on the part of tho Union.

M. Drouyn de l'Iluys, I fear, has taken other light than the correspondence of this Government for his guidance in ascertaining its temper and firmness. He has probably read of divisions of sentiment among those who hold themselves forth as organs of public opinion here, and has given

to them an undue importance. It is to be remembered hat this is a nation of thirty millions, civilly divided into forty-one States and Territories, which cover an expanse hardly less than Europe ; that the people are a pure democracy, exercising everywhere the utmost freedom of speech and suffrage ; that & great crisis necessarily produces vehement as well as profound debate, with sharp collisions of individual, local, and sectional interests, sentiments, and ambitions; and that this heat of controversy is increased by the intervention of speculations, interests, prejudices, and passions from every other part of the civilized world. It is, however, through such debates that the agreement of the nation upon any subject is babitually attained, its resolutions formed, and its policy established. While there has been much ditference of popular opinion and favor concerning the agents who shall carry on the war, the principles on which it shall be waged, and the means with which it shall be prosecuted, M. Drouyn de l'Huys has only to refer to the statute-book of Congress and the Executive ordinances to learn that the national activity has hitherto been, and yet is, as efficient as that of any other nation, whatever its form of government, ever was, under circumstances of equally grave import to its peace, safety, and welfare. Not one voice has been raised anywhere, out of the immediate field of the insurrection, in favor of foreign intervention, of mediation, of arbitration, or of compromise, with the relinquishment of one acre of the national domain, or the surrender of even one constitutional franchise. At the same time, it is manitest to the world that our resources are yet abundant, and our credit adequate to the existing emergency,

What M. Drouyn de l'Huys suggests is, that this Government shall appoint commissioners to meet, on neutral ground, coinmissioners of thu insurgents. He supposes that in the conferences to be thus held, reciprocal complaints could be discussed, and in place of the accusations which the North and South now mutually cast upon each other, the conferees would be engaged with discussions of the interests wbich divide them. Lle assumes, further, that the commissioners would seek, by means of wellordered and profound deliberation, whether these interests are definitively irreconcilable, whether separation is an extreme that can no longer be avoided, or whether the memories of a common existence, the ties of every kind which have made the North and the South one whole Federative State, and have borne them on to so bigh a degree of prosperity, are not inore powerful than the causes which have placed arins in the hands of the two populations.

The suggestion is not an extraordinary one, and it may well have been thought by the Emperor of the French, in the earnestness of his bezevo. lent desire for the restoration of peace, a feasible one. But when M. Drouyn de l'Huys shall come to review it in the light in which it must necssearily be examined in this country, I think he can hardly fail to perceive that it amounts to nothing less than a proposition that, while this Government is engagod in suppressing an armed insurrection, with the porpose of maintaining the constitutional national authority, and preserving the integrity of the country, it shall enter into diplomatic discussion with the insurgents upon the questions whether that authority shall not be renounced, and whether the country shall not be delivered over en disunion, to be quickly followed by ever-increasing anarchy.

If it were possible for the Government of the United States to compromise the national authority so far as to enter into such debates, it is not easy to perceive what good results could be obtained by them.

The commissioners must agree in recommending either that the Union shall stand or that it shall be voluntarily dissolved: or else they inust leave the vital question unsettled, to abide at last the fortunes of the war. The Government has not shut out the knowledge of the present temper, any more than of the past purposes, of the insurgents. There is not the least isround to suppose that the controlling actors would be persuaded at this moment, by any arguments which national commissioners could offer, to forego the ambition that has impelled them to the disloyal position they are occupying. Any commissioners who should be appointed by these actors, or through their dictation or influence, must enter the conference imbued with the spirit and pledged to the personal fortunes of the insurgent chiefs. The loyal people in the insurrectionary States would be unheard, and any offer of peace by this Government, on the condition of the maintenance of the Union, must necessarily be rejected.

On the other hand, as I have already intimated, this Government has not the least thought of relinquishing the trust which has been confided to it by the nation under the inost solemn of all political sanctions; and if it had any such thought, it would still have abundant reason to know that peace proposed at the cost of dissolution would be immediately, unreservedly, and indignantly rejected by the American people. It is a great mistake that European statesmen make, if they suppose this people are demoralized. Whatever, in the case of an insurrection, the people of France, or of Great Britain, or of Switzerland, or of the Netherlands would do to save their national existence, no matter how the strife might be regarded by or might affect foreign nations, just so much, and certainly no legs, the people of the United States will do, if necessary to save for the common benefit the region which is bounded by the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, and by the shores of the Gulfs of St. Lawrence and Mexico, together with the free and common navigation of the Rio Grande, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, St. Lawrence, Hudson, Delaware, Potomac, and other natural highways by which this land, which to them is at once a land of inheritance and a land of promise, is opened and watered. Even if the agents of the American people now exercising their power shonld, through fear or faction, fall below this height of the national virtue, they would be speedily, yet constitutionally, replaced by others of sterner character and patriotism.

I must be allowed to say, also, that M. Drouyn de l'Huys errs in his description of the parties to the present conflict. We have here, in the

« AnteriorContinuar »