Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.


No. 21.]

Sir: Your despatches, Nos. 24 and 25, are duly received. Despatches 19, 22, and 24, treat in whole or in part of the same general matter.

I have read despatch No. 19 with great interest. It had not occurred to me that you might deny to France and Great Britain an official reading of their despatches which announced to our government their concession of belligerent rights to the south; or that, if you should do so, it would alter the relations of parties to the question. If it has that effect diplomatically, or relieves you from noticing their position, you were certainly right. Indeed, I cannot see how, upon the ground that you put the matter, France has just cause of offence. You say merely you want no notice of a purpose by her to do what you consider an unfriendly act; that you will wait until the act is done before you choose to notice it; that, in other words, you choose to consider her as a friend until she shows herself by acts, not words, to be the contrary. * * * * * *

The reasons assigned for your course you say I may communicate to the French government if I “shall find it necessary or expedient.” I shall not fail to avail myself of this authority upon the earliest opportunity which shall be afforded for doing so. The just reasoning and friendly tone of your despatch will be invaluable for justification of your course and the prevention of difficulties. Unless, however, they refer to your action or make it a subject of complaint, it is, I suppose, not expedient for me to volunteer explanations. I was much surprised by one fact found in the despatch from the French government left with you for an informal reading, to wit: that you must not be surprised if France should address herself to a government which she says is to be installed at Montgomery for certain explanations. I could not have anticipated, from what had been said to me here, that such a course was in contemplation. Should they adopt it, the act would seem to me to approximate a recognition in this instance of the southern government more nearly than anything that has yet occurred. In that event, your future course will, no doubt, be guided by that wisdom which is so essential to carry us through the troubles of our present position. * * *

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


Hon. Wm. H. Seward,
Secretary of State.