Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.


No. 11.]

Sir: Your despatch (No. 10) was received by me on the 18th instant, and its substance communicated to Mr. Thouvenel on the 19th. On that day I had with him an interesting conversation. I communicated to him the very kind language which you had used in behalf of the President in reference to the Emperor and his willingness to mediate between the north and south, should such mediation be desired. Nothing could have been better expressed than the language of your own despatch; and, without formally reading it to him, I endeavored to repeat, substantially, its language. Mr. Thouvenel seemed much gratified at its tone, and inasmuch as the Emperor had made like remarks to me personally, I begged that your reply might be specially communicated to him, which was readily promised. This, as you may infer, was the most agreeable part of my duty, as connected with your despatch.

A short editorial in reference to the recognition of the independence of Italy, and in that connexion of the States of the south, which is herewith enclosed, first appeared in the Patrie, (a newspaper published in this city, and which has heretofore had a semi-official character.) It was republished on Sunday last in the “Moniteur” without remark, thus giving it an official significance which would not otherwise have been attached to it. It attracted much attention here, and some anxiety. I resolved that at the first opportunity, I would seek an explanation from the minister of foreign affairs. After my communication of your kind remarks, before referred to, I availed myself of the opportunity of calling his attention to this matter. He at once said that his own attention had been arrested by it; that it was a “silliness;” that Mr. Persigny (minister of the interior) was more dissatisfied with it even than he was; that the Patrie had ceased, ten days ago, to be a semi-official paper; that he did not know how the paragraph had crept into the Moniteur, but that Count Walewski (minister of state) had been out of the city for ten days past, and that as a consequence matters had not had the usual oversight. He read me a note from the count, in answer to one he (Mr. Thouvenel) had written, inquiring if it would not be better to insert something to show that the paragraph was printed in the Moniteur by mistake, to which note the count replied that he thought it would be giving an unnecessary importance to the matter, and in that view Mr. Thouvenel, upon reflection, concurred. But he said he was vexed at the insertion in the Moniteur, and at the commentaries likely to be made upon it. He said, furthermore, (what he has so often said before,) that the French government had no sympathy whatever with the seceding States of the south; that it had no idea of recognizing them as an independent power; that should they, in the course of time, obtain a status as an independent power among nations, and show themselves able to maintain that position, [Page 219] the French government might ultimately recognize them; but this would be after the expiration of a time ample to test their ability in this behalf. He said, incidentally, three or four years, though I do not suppose he intended anything by this, except to explain more fully his meaning.

He said, furthermore, he had received Mr. Rost, (one of the commissioners of the south,) who applied to him through a third party; that he had not applied to be received as a commissioner from the south; if he had so done he would not have received him. * * * * * *

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Mr. Thouvenel referred, in terms of satisfaction, to a private note which he had received from you, through this legation.

I have just received a note from Mr. Perry, our chargé d’affaires at Madrid, under date of the 16th instant, stating that on the next or following day a decree of that government would be made in reference to privateers and Spanish ports, of a like character, in the general, as that which has been made by the French government. This, in view of the locality of certain ports of Spain, will be an important benefit to us.

With a blockade of the ports of the south, and the ports of other nations closed against them, there will be little hope left for profitable marauding on the high seas.

I think I may say with some confidence that all the efforts of the agents of the confederates on this side of the channel have thus far been abortive. They have no encouragement to their hopes of recognition. They have met with no success in their attempts to negotiate a loan. I do not believe they have got any considerable supply of arms, and I think that we know substantially what they have done and are attempting to do. My only fear is of a possible, not probable, reverse to our arms in Virginia, and a rush, under the excitement of a first victory, upon the city of Washington. Should they get possession, by any possibility, of that point, the prestige it would give them (aside from any strategic advantage) might be productive of most unhappy results. God grant that no such future may hang over us.

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With much respect, I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Hon William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.


The “Patrie” says:

It is asserted that negotiations will be opened to bring about the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between France and the court of Turin. If they take effect, the consequence will be the recognition of the Italian kingdom, composed of the provinces and states which have passed under the sceptre of his Majesty King Victor Emanuel, at the close of occurrences upon which France has not at this time occasion to express herself, but which have transpired through favor of the principle of non-intervention recognized in Europe.

The renewal of diplomatic relations with Turin would not imply on the part of France, on the subject of the policy of the Italian kingdom, any [Page 220] judgment upon the past, nor any solidarity for the future. It would make it appear that the government de facto of this new state is sufficiently established to render it possible to entertain with it those international relations which the interests of the two countries imperatively require.

France, in her new attitude, would not purpose to interfere at all with the internal or external affairs of the Italian kingdom, which must be sole judge of its administration, as it is of its future and its destinies. It will act towards it as at some future day the great European powers will act upon the American question, by recognizing the new republic of the southern States when that republic shall have established a government resting on foundations which will permit the formation of international relations with it conducive to general interests.