Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.
Brussels, July 30, 1861.
Sir: I called yesterday at the department of foreign affairs to press again upon the attention of Baron De Vrière the proposition of adhesion to the declaration of Paris, made to him near two months since, and he being out of town, I saw the secretary general, who, as before said, replaces the minister in his absence.
In reply to my question whether the government had come to any decision, he said that they were not yet sufficiently informed of the condition of this subject at other courts to give me any positive answer; that while he would not say that they would give a negative one, the policy and acts of Belgium being, as I was aware, doubtless most liberal, yet they did not feel, as a smaller power, justified in taking any step of this nature in advance of their neighbors.
I inquired whether there was any other objection to this proposed convention than he had indicated, in order to learn whether the addition of the Marcy proposition was considered an impediment. He said he was not prepared to give any other; that their position with regard to neighboring powers, to whom Belgium owed, in one sense, her nationality, was a delicate one, and they did not feel authorized to take any initiative in negotiations of this character; they left that to those powers who must necessarily have a controlling influence in general politics.[Page 63]
It is thus evident that this government will do nothing till after the great powers have decided upon a course of action in this matter.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.
P. S.—I open my despatch to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches Nos. 12, 13, and 14, with their respective enclosures, which will have immediate action.