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Mr. Seward to Mr. Stockton.
DEPARTMENT OF State,
Washington, April 30, 1861. SIR: An instruction, numbered 2, and dated the 29th instant, has been addressed to your successor, Mr. King, of which, as it relates to a subject of present moment, I have deemed it expedient to send you a transcript, which you will find enclosed. It is thought desirable that the views therein expressed should be communicated to the Papal government without delay. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. John P. Stockton, Esq., 80., 80., Rome.
Mr. Stockton to Mr. Seward.
WASHINGTON, September 14, 1861. Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I left my post of duty on my return home on the 6th day of June last. But before doing so, according to the tenor of my despatch, (No. 48, I communicated the contents of the instructions of the department to Mr. King (No. 2) to the government of his holiness.
I translated all those points of the despatch which I thought necessary into Italian, and left it with his eminence as a memoranda. I informed his eminence, the secretary of state, that although the despatch was addressed to my successor, I should be most happy to take charge of a reply, as Mr. King had not yet arrived in Rome. His eminence said that he could not know the contents of instructions of the government of the United States to Mr. King except privately. Officially Mr. King should be received before any communication directed to him could be noticed. It was impossible for him to reply; a reply was not appropriate to the occasion.
I suggested that he could state to me privately his views, which I would communicate to the government, although my official position was ended.
His eminence consented to this, and then said, in substance, as follows: He said that the Catholics of the United States, as Catholics, as a church, would take no part in the matter; it would not be proper for them to do so. As citizens he had no doubt they would all feel a great concern at our internal dissensions. He added, you are aware that the government of his holiness concerns itself mainly in spiritual matters, but we are the supporters of law and order everywhere. He said he regarded the United States as a great and free country, and he hoped that I would be assured that the kind sentiments of our government to the Holy See were appreciated and reciprocated.
I do not pretend to give either the words or 'a verbal translation of the expressions of his eminence, but I am sure that I have fairly stated the substance of the conversation.
Perhaps it is not improper for me, in concluding my mission, to say that I parted from his holiness with a profound sense of ike lind.ics and consideration I had always received from him, and with sentiments of the highest regard and esteem for his character. I have the honor to remain, very truly yours,
JOHN P. STOCKTON,
Late United States Minister at Rome. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Clay.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, May 6, 1861. Sir: Nations, like individuals, have three prominent wants; first, freedom; secondly, prosperity; thirdly, friends.
The United States early secured the two first objects by the exercise of courage and enterprise. But, although they have always practiced singular moderation, they nevertheless have been slow in winning friends.
Russia presents an exceptional case. That power was an early, and it has always been a constant friend. This relationship between two nations, so remote and so unlike, has excited much surprise, but the explanation is obvious.
Russia, like the United States, is an improving and expanding empire. Its track is eastward, while that of the United States is westward. The two nations, therefore, never come into rivalry or conflict. Each carries civilization to the new regions it enters, and each finds itself occasionally resisted by states jealous of its prosperity, or alarmed by its aggrandizement. Russia and the United States may remain good friends until, each having made a circuit of half the globe in opposite directions, they shall meet and greet each other in the region where civilization first began, and where, after so many ages, it has become now lethargic and helpless. It will be your pleasing duty to confirm and strengthen these traditional relations of amity and friendship.
Assure his Imperial Majesty that the President and the people of the United States have observed with admiration and sympathy the great and humane efforts he has so recently made for the material and moral improvement of his empire by the extension of telegraphs and railroads, and by removing the disabilities of slavery.
Make it your duty to inquire whether the sluggish course of commerce between the two nations cannot be quickened, and its volume increased. Russia is capable of receiving cotton and tobacco from us in much larger quantities than we now send. The former is not a staple of that country, and although it produces tobacco, yet not of so high a quality as that which we send abroad, and of which Russia consumes more than any other nation.
We can well receive from that country increased quantities of hemp and flax, tallow, and other productions in exchange.
Russia is liberal to our inventors, engineers, and machinists; but vicious adventurers too often abuse this generous encouragement by fraudulent practices. See if you can devise a plan for correcting this evil. I suggest that it might be done by effecting free interchange of newspapers and scientific journals.
A Russian landing at New York can cross this western continent without once being required to exhibit a passport. Why will not Russia extend the same hospitality to us, and enable the American citizen, when he debarks at Revel, to cross the eastern continent in like manner unquestioned. The American abroad is not more than the Russian a propagandist, and while Russia pursues the general policy of the present reign it can have nothing to fear from American influences.
In another paper which accompanies this your attention is especially di
rected to the subject of amendments of the international code of maritime law in regard to neutrals, proposed in 1856 by the congress which was then sitting at Paris, of which body Russia was a member.
If nations were now, as in ancient times, morally independent and unsocial, the President would not have occasion to address our representatives in Europe on the painful events which are subjects of intense solicitude at home. But the world has, in a measured degree, become one commonwealth. Nations favor or discourage political changes in other nations, and exercise influences upon their success and fortunes, sometimes from interest, sometimes from sympathy, and sometimes from caprice.
Although this general fact is so well understood, yet the President indulges so uncompromising a sense of the national dignity and honor, that he, nevertheless, would not suffer a word on the subject to escape from the lips of one of our ministers abroad, if our discontented fellow-citizens who have raised the standard of insurrection had not sent out their agents to propitiate foreign powers and engage their co-operation in the desperate attempt they are making to overthrow the institutions and the liberties of the American people.
You will, of course, meet such agents in Russia. They have some advan tages in Europe of which you should be warned.
What is now the insurrectionary party in the United States has been for near forty years, and until the fourth day of March last, the dominant party in the administration of this government. It has acquaintances and friendships in high places there, the growth of long intercourse in foreign courts, with the prestige of political authority. The late minister to Russia returned, however, to be the governor of South Carolina at the moment when that State was in the very act of inaugurating the present revolution.
When those agents shall present themselves at St. Petersburg, his Imperial Majesty, before granting them a hearing, will naturally address himself to you, and will ask you: What is the cause of this revolution? What is its object? Why does the government resist it? What is the present condition of the revolution, and what are its prospects? What are the probable consequences of its success, or of its failure? And, finally, what does the the President desire or expect from his Imperial Majesty in regard to it?
The President will not forget, nor will he allow you to forget, that he is the magistrate of the insurrectionary, as he is also of the loyal States, and in all his dealings concerning the plotters, aiders, and abettors of this great conspiracy he will constantly remember that the people in whose name they act, and whose power they abuse, are still citizens of the republic. He believes, however, that you may answer all the questions thus contemplated without compromising the impartiality of this government, or the dignity and honor of the federal Union.
As to the cause of the revolution, you will inform the Russian government that African slavery was found existing in nearly all the States, when, seventy years ago, they met, and by a written Constitution established that Union. It was expected that under the operation of moral, social, and political influences then existing the practice of slavery would soon cease. The foreign slave trade was adopted to favor that end, while the vacant common domain which lay between the Alleghany mountains and the Mississippi river was shut up against slavery by legislation then believed to be effective and eternal.
Cotton soon afterward became an object of great commercial demand; the soil and climate of those States of this Union which are situate near and upon the Gulf of Mexico were favorable to its growth, and African slave labor existed therein practically to the exclusion of the labor of free white men.
The raising of slaves of the African race to supply the wants of the cotton growing States became a prominent economical interest in the grain and tobacco growing States adjacent to the former class of States. The interest of slavery became at once the basis of the policy, and even of the polity of these two classes of States, and by political, social, and commercial connexions those interests secured a strong and even controlling influence throughout the whole Union, and even in all foreign commercial countries. This interest of slavery was jealous and apprehensive of danger from the growth of the democratic element of free white labor, which all the while has been constantly augmented by native increase and immigration from Europe.
The several States in the Union, whatever be their population, enjoy equal representation in the Senate. Congress may, and from manifest causes must, admit new States into the Union. The slave holding interest naturally desired to extend slavery and multiply slave States. The free States necessarily desired, as they constitutionally might, to prevent the extension of slavery in regions where it did not exist or had been abolished, and so to multiply free States.
The acquisitions of new domain by purchases from France, Spain, and Mexico, to be the seat of future States, opened a wide theatre for this contest, and the contest itself by degrees came to be a chief feature in the debates of Congress, and in the canvasses of the popular elections.
The interest of slavery was consolidated and compact in the slave States, and acquired great power by threatening that if overruled those States would secede and dissolve the Union, which the free States traditionally, as well as justly, regarded as fatal to the prosperity, safety, and happiness of the whole American people. Statesmen of all classes and all parties, on that ground, continually conceded, and Congress and the judiciary constantly compromised with the slave interest, in opposition to steadily advancing popular convictions of right, duty, and patriotism, until at last all legal barriers against the extension of slavery were, in one way or in another, thrown down. Transactions so unnatural roused the interest opposed to slavery to renewed effort in the popular election of the last year, and that election resulted in the choice of the present incumbent for the office of President of the United States, although without a majority of either house of Congress identified with this interest.
The party of slavery, which had thus, for the first time, been distinctly, though not completely, unsuccessful in a popular election, instantly, and four months before the constitutional period assigned for the inauguration of the new President, took an appeal from the verdict of the people, rendered through the ballot-box, to the sword, and organized a revolution with civil war.
Such was the cause of the revolution. Its object is to create a nation built upon the principle that African slavery is necessary, just, wise, “and beneficent, and that it may and must be expanded over the central portion of the American continent and islands without check or resistance, at whatever cost and sacrifice to the welfare and happiness of the human race.
The government of the United States resists this revolution for reasons too many to be hastily set forth.
It'is absolutely unnecessary. All existing interests of slavery are protected now, as heretofore, by our federal and State constitutions, sufficiently to prevent the destruction or molestation of the institution of slavery where it exists, by federal or foreign intervention, without the consent of the parties concerned. The policy of fortifying and extending slavery in regions where it has no existence is injurious, vicious, and eminently dangerous to our own country and to mankind.
Dismemberment of the Union, however effected and for whatever cause, would be destruction of the safety, happiness, and welfare of the whole American people, and would, by its influence, render the present establishment of any popular form of government impracticable in an age and in a region where no other than just such a form of government is known or could be tolerated.
The condition of the revolution is this, namely: In the United States the people always exercise a direct and potential influence upon the government. They were at first incredulous of the fact that a revolution so unnecessary, so unnatural, and so fatal, was seriously intended. They saw it move steadily on, but were beguiled by the appeals of mediators, who proposed at once to avert disunion and to prevent the calamity of civil war. The government was temporarily demoralized by the presence of the conspirators in controlling numbers in the administration, in Congress, in the army, in the navy, and in every department of the public service. But at last, when it became clearly revealed that nothing less than subversion of the federal republic would satisfy the insurgents, and that the forbearance and moderation of the government towards them were abused to the purpose of preparing a deadly and desolating war, the loyalty of the people suddenly awakened; the government, sustained by popular enthusiasm and energy, has put forth all the necessary power; the revolution has at once been checked, and it is no longer doubtful that it will be promptly and effectually suppressed
It had its origin in disappointment; and it depends for continuance only on popular passions, the occasion for which has passed away, while such passions are not in harmony with the character, sentiments, and habits of the American people.
When it shall be seen, as it soon will be, that the effort to overthrow the government is hopeless, the misguided citizens who have joined themselves to the revolutionary standard will resume their accustomed habits of reason and reflection, and the Union, having surmounted a new and formidable danger, will be stronger than ever before.
What would be the consequences of the revolution if it could be successful ? The answer is obvious. At first, division of this great and hitherto peaceful and happy country into two hostile and belligerent republics. Later, a resolution of each of those two republics into an indefinite number of petty, hostile, and belligerent States. Local jealousies, continually agitated, would, early or late, be aggravated by the horrors of a servile war, filling the whole country with desolation. The end would be military despotism, compelling peace where free government had proved an absolute and irretrievable failure.
The equilibrium of the nations, maintained by this republic, on the one side against the European system on the other continent, would be lost, and the struggles of nations in that system for dominion in this hemisphere and on the high seas, which constitutes the chief portion of the world's history in the eighteenth century, would be renewed. The progress of freedom and civilization, now so happily inaugurated, would be arrested, and the hopes of humanity which this the present century has brought forth would be disappointed and indefinitely postponed.
What will be the consequences of the failure of the revolution ? The continuance of the country in the happy career that it has pursued so auspiciously, to the repose of nations and to the improvement of the condition of mankind.
What does the President require or expect from the Emperor of Russia ? That sovereign is expected to do just what this government does in regard to Russia and all other nations. It refrains from all intervention whatever in their political affairs; and it expects the same just and generous forbear