Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.


Sir: I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of the reply of Mr. Thouvenel to my proposition, on the part of the United States, to open negotiations for its accession to the treaty of Paris of 1856, according to the terms therein stated.

In our first conversation upon this subject, I understood from Mr. Thouvenel [Page 230] that on a written proposition from me for negotiation he would address the other powers (parties to the treaty) upon the subject. That a note from me would afford him a starting point for communicating with such powers. Upon further reflection, or upon conference with his associates in the government, he now writes that it will be necessary that I address myself jointly (if I understood him rightly) to all the powers associated in that treaty, before my proposition can be considered.

Our condition as respects privateering and the belligerent rights conceded to the south has been so changed by the action of Great Britain, France and Spain, subsequent to the first declaration of Lord John Russelll, (stating that such belligerent rights would be conceded,) that I know not what may be the views of the government of the United States at this time as respects an accession to the treaty of 1856, pure and simple. But as I have learned that nothing substantially has been done in that direction at other points, and I do not see that the interests of the country will be jeoparded by a little delay, I shall await further instructions upon this subject. My first despatch referring to this matter was dated 22d of May last, and I doubt not I shall now receive an answer at an early day. If the government of the United States shall, in view of the circumstances, direct me to make the proposition to the French government to accede to the Paris treaty, pure and simple, I will, acting under such express direction, lose no time in making the proposition. * * * * * *

With high consideration, I am yours, very truly,


Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.