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Mr. Seward to Mr. Burlingame.

(Extracts.] No. 2.)


Washington, April 13, 1861. Sir: It scems to me that our mission to Austria has not been made as useful hitherto as it ought to have been. I think, indeed, that it has generally been undervalued, The causes for this are manifest. We are a commercial people, and of course cultivate acquaintance first and chiefly with other commercial nations. Situated on a long Atlantic coast, and confronting on the opposite shore the commercial countries from whence our population was first and principally derived, we have naturally fallen into relations with them of the most intimate kind. Austria is distant, and it has never been a maritime nation.

To go no further in the review of its history than 1815, the Austrian government has been that one of the great European powers which has maintained more studiously, firmly, and persistently than any other, the principles of unlimited monarchy, so opposite in their character to the principles upon which our own government has been established.

Again, Austria is not an unique country with a homogencous people. It is a combination of kingdoms, duchics, provinces, and countries, added to each other by force, and subjected to an imperial head, but remaining at the same time diverse, distinct, and discordant. The empire is therefore largely destitute of that element of nationality which is essential to the establishment of free intercourse with remote foreign States. This absence of nationality is observable in the Austrian emigration to the United States. We meet everywhere liere, in town and country, Italians, Hungarians, Poles, Magyars, Jews, and Germans, who have come to us from that empire, but no one has ever seen a confessed Austrain among us. So when a traveller visits Austria he passes through distinctly marked countries, whose people call themselves by many different names, but none of them indicative of their relation to the empire.

Our representatives at Vienna scem generally to have come, after a short residence there, to the conclusion that there was nothing for them to do and little for them to learn.

* The President expects that you will be diligent in obtaining not only information about political events, but also commercial and even scientific facts, and in reporting them to this department. Austria is an interesting field for improvement of that kind. Although Lombardy, with other Italian provinces, has recently been lost, yet the empire still has a population little inferior in number to our own; and thougli there are some pations whose people are more mercurial, there is no one in the whole world whose inhabitants are more industrious, frugal, cheerful, and comfortable ; none in which agriculture derives more wealth from hard soils and ungenial skies ; none where science, art, and taste mingle so perfectly with public and privato economy. An undue portion of the country is mountainous. It has never



theless a richmess and variety of mineral and vegetable wealtlı uncqualled in any other part of Europe. Many of its productions could, if introduced more freely, find a ready consumption here, while, on the other hand, we could supply Austria with materials and provisions which are now at greater cost received by her from other countries. Many of the Austrian productions and fabrics which we do receive come to us through the hands of merchants in other European States.

The insignificance of our commerce with Austria results in a large degree from her policy of taxing exports as well as imports, and from monopolies, by which she labors to create a national system of navigation. The subject is one of great interest, and you can render an important service probably to both countries by applying yourself to an examination of it with a view to the negotiation of a more liberal treaty than the one now in force.

Just now a pressure upon this department, incidental to the beginning of a new administration, renders it impossible for me to descend into the details which must be considered in this connexion. It is, however, a purpose of the President that the subject shall be thoroughly investigated, and you will in due time be fully instructed. In the meanwhile you are authorized to communicate his disposition in this respect to the government of his Imperial Royal Majesty, and to ascertain, if possible, whether it would be willing to enter into a revision of the commercial arrangements now existing between the two nations.

The President is well aware that the government of Austria is naturally pre-occupied with political questions of great moment. It must be confessed, also, that painful events occurring among ourselves have a tendency to withdraw our thoughts from commercial subjects. But it is not to be doubted, in the first place, that political embarrassments would in both countries be essentially relieved by any improvement of their commerce which could be made; and, secondly, that the greater those embarrassments are the more merit there will be in surmounting them so far as may be necessary to effect that improvement. It certainly is not the intention of the President that the progress in material and social improvement which this country has been making through so many years shall be arrested or hindered unnecessarily by the peculiar political trials to which it seems likely to be subjected during the term for which he has been called to conduct the administration of its affairs.

There is a peculiar fitness in efforts at this time to enlarge our trade in the Mediterranean, for it is never wise to neglect advantages which can be secured with small expense, and near at home, while prosecuting at great cost, as we are doing, great enterprises in remoter parts of the world. I would not overlook Italy, Germany, and Hungary, while reaching forth for the trade of China and Japan.

I shall allude to political affairs in Austria only so far as is necessary to enable me to indicate the policy which the President will pursue in regard to them. They present to us the aspect of an ancient and very influential power, oppressed with fiscal embarrassments, the legacy of long and exhausting wars, putting forth at one and the same time efforts for material improvement, and still mightier ones to protect its imperfectly combined dominion from dismemberment and disintegration, seriously menaced from without, aided by strong and intense popular passions within. With these questions the government of the United States has and can have no concern. In the intercourse of nations each must be assumed by every other to choose and will what it maintains, tolerates, or allows Any other than a conrse of neutrality would tend to keep human society continually embroiled in wars, and render national independence everywhere practically impossible.

No institutions which can be established in a country through foreign intervention can give to it security or other advantages equal to those which are afforded by the system it cstablishes or permits for itself; while every nation must be regarded as a moral person, and so amenable to the public opinion of mankind, that opinion can carry its decrecs into effect only by peaceful means and influences. These principles, hitherto practiced by the United States with great impartiality, furnish rules for the conduct of their representatives abroad, and especially for your own in the critical condition of political affairs in the country to which you are accredited.

This intimation is given so distinctly because an observance of it is peculiarly important in the present condition of our domestic affairs. We are just entering on a fearful trial, hitherto not only unknown, but even deemed impossible by all who have not been supposed to regard the career of our country, even under auspicious indications, with morbid distrust.

Ambitious and discontented partisans have raised the standard of insurrection and organized in form a revolutionary government. Their agents have gone abroad to seek, under the name of recognition, aid and assistance. In this case imprudence on our part in our intercourse with foreign nations might provoke injurious, possibly dangerous, retaliation.

The President does not by any means apprehend that the imperial royal government at Vienna will be inclined to listen to those overtures. The habitual forbearance of his Majesty, the friendship which happily has always existed between the two countries, and the prudence which the government of the former has so long practiced in regard to political affairs on this continent, forbid any such apprehension.

Should our confidence in this respect, however, prove to be erroneous, the remarks which I shall have occasion to make with a different view in this paper will furnish you with the grounds on which to stand while resisting and opposing any such application of the so-called Confederate States of America.

Vienna, as you are very well aware, is a political centre in continental Europe. You may expect to meet agents of disunion there seeking to mould public opinion for effect elsewhere.

I will not detain you with a history of that reckless movement, or with details of the President's policy in regard to it. Your experience as a prominent member of Congress has already furnished the former. The inaugural address of the President, with despatches to your predecessor, will be found in the archives of the legation, and will supply thic latter.

Certainly I shall not need to anticipate and controvert any complaints of injustice, oppression, or wrong, which those agents may prefer against their country before foreign tribunals. Practically, the discontented party itself administered this government from thic carliest day when sedition began its incubation until the insurgents had risen and organized their new provisional and revolutionary government. Never, in the history of the human race, has revolution been so altogether without cause, or met with fortearance, patience, and gentleness so long.

Nor shall I notice particularly the apprehensions of future injustice and oppression which, in the absence of real cause, are put forth as grounds for the insurrection. The revolutionists will find it very hard to make any European sovereign, or even any European subject, understand what better or further guarantee they could have of all their rights of person and property than those which are written in the Constitution of the United States, and which have never been by the government of the United States broken or violated either in letter or in spirit

. They will find it quite as difficult to inake either a European sovereign or subject understand how they can rea

sonably expect to improve their political security by organizing a new government under a constitution containing substantially the same provisions as the one they seek to overthrow.

There is reason to apprehend that the form of argument which the agents alluded to will chiefly employ will be an assumption that the independence and sovereignty of the new and irregular authority they represent is already de facto established.

If this were true, still you could reply that no public interest of other States, nor even any such interest of the new confederacy itself could suffer by a delay allowing sufficient time for the government of the United States, fully consulting the people, to acknowledge in the first instance the independence so claimed to have been established. The United States have a right to require such delay from all friendly powers, and a refusal of it would be an act offensive to their dignity and manifestly hostile. There is not the least ground to assume that the government of the United States would act otherwise than wisely, discreetly, and humanely, when it should come to act in such a case. Individual caprice finds no place in a goveinment so entirely popular as ours, and partisan excitement sinks in great national emergencics here before the calm considerato judgment of the American people pronouncing upon considerations exclusively of their own security, freedom, and happiness. They would, indeed, regard the effectual dismemberment of the Union as fatal to the liighest hopes which humanity has ever, with apparent reason, indulged. But they are not visionary nor impracticable, and they will not lack even the magnanimity to accept the fact of their ruin, and govern themselves in conformity with it, before other nations fraternally disposed need to intervenc to reconcile them, or, if unfriendly, to profit by that last calamity.

At all events foreign governments may be expected to consult their own interests and welfare in regard to the subject in question, even though indifferent to the rights and interests of the United States. A premature declaration of recognition by any foreign State would be direct intervention, and the State which should lend it must be prepared to assume the relations of an ally of the projected confederacy and employ force to render the recognition effectual.

But, in point of fact, the assumption that the new confederacy has established its sovereignty and independence is altogether unfounded. It was projected, or favored, by the late administration during the four months that it remained in power after the election, which constituted practically an interregnum. The new administration, now only forty days old, has practiced forbearance and conciliation, relying hitherto, as it will hereafter rely, on the virtue and patriotism of the people to rescue the country and the Union from danger by peaceful and constitutional means, and content to maintain the authority and defend the positions which came into its hands on the fourth of March last, without employing coercion, so unnatural, and, as it has hitherto believed and still believes, so unnecessary for the national security, integrity, and welfare. The so-called confederacy has yet to secure its sovereignty either by war or by peace. If it shall, as now seems probable, have determined on war, it has only just thrown down the challenge. It must not assume that a nation so sound, so vigorous, and so strong as this, although it may forbear long, will not accept such a challenge when there is no alternative.

The government of the so-called Confederate States bave still greater perils to incur if they are to establish their separation by the acts and processes proper for peace. They will have at some time to refer themselves and all their action to an intelligent people, who will then have had time to reflect and to inquire what all this revolution is for, and what good it

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