Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward .


No. 9.]

Sir: As M. de Vrière is out of town, I directed the attention of Monsieur Saluremont, the secretary general, who is charged with the affairs of the department in the absence of the minister, in an interview with him to-day, as to the propriety of a proclamation warning Belgians from taking service under those in rebellion to the federal government, furnishing them “aid and comfort,” and, especially, closing the ports of Belgium to their “privateers”—declared by the President to be pirates—or permitting them to be fitted out in her ports. I said that while the assurances I had received from M. de Vrière, soon after my arrival, of the attitude of his government had been satisfactory, I hoped it would now give public expression to them, both as due to a friendly power and as a warning to their own citizens of the perils of such enterprises.

Mons. Saluremont replied that the matter had been under consideration; that the position which England and France had taken had not seemed to be satisfactory to the government of the United States, and they had delayed, in consequence, taking any formal steps; but not, he begged me to be assured, from any want of friendly spirit or desire to do all the occasion called for at their hands.

I replied that he was correct in his views of our sentiments as to the course which England and France had seen fit to pursue. We could not look upon the recognition of belligerent rights to those who, under our laws, were rebels, and before we had attempted to employ forcible means of coercion, as evincing the friendly spirit we had a right to expect; that these people would be treated none the less as rebels on the land as pirates on the seas—they or those of whatever nationality who joined them; and we counted, on the part of Belgium, upon no such qualification of our citizens in rebellion, whom we were engaged in submitting to the action of our laws.

He said their legislation provided generally for the cases I had instanced, but that attention would be immediately given to the subject, and he thought we need not have any reason to be dissatisfied with the action they would take in the premises.

He then told me that our new tariff law was a subject of great complaint in Belgium, and great distress in some branches of industry which it had destroyed, referring specially to glass and some kinds of woollen goods.

I again explained our system of revenue, which all manufacturing States this side the Atlantic insist upon believing to be disadvantageous to their interests.

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I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.