Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.
Sir: Your despatch of January 2 (No. 91) is before me.
Its subject is the condition of our affairs abroad. This foreign aspect must of course have somewhat changed when the action of this government in regard to the search and detention of the British steamer Trent became known in Europe. Recent military occurrences here will probably have some modifying influences there. Practically, the whole coast of the insurrectionary States is falling into the possession of the federal forces. The expedition under Burnside is in Albemarle sound, and we trust that it will produce some decisive results.
The government is co-operating with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company in restoring this important communication between Baltimore and the Ohio, which will soon be effected.
But the great events of the day are, first, the determined vote of Congress to sustain the government by a tax of one hundred and fifty millions of dollars, which will be adequate to preserve the national finances during the vigorous prosecution of the war.
And secondly, the removal of the obstructions raised by the insurgents on the banks of the Cumberland river, to prevent the entrance of federal columns into eastern Tennessee. The victory of General Thomas at Mill Spring was a very gratifying affair; but its brilliancy is surpassed by its strategic importance. You will see at once that it opens the way to eastern Tennessee, and so to the cutting off of supplies and reinforcements for the insurgent army of the Potomac. You will not err in assuming that this great movement is one having no isolated purpose, but that it is a part in a general system which contemplates the bringing of all the federal forces promptly into activity, with a view to the complete restoration of the federal authority throughout the country. It is not in our power to control the policies of European cabinets. They acted precipitately in May last, and thus aggravated and prolonged our troubles. It is to be hoped that they will allow themselves now to understand the resources and the energies which have enabled us to recover from those injuries and to hem in the insurrection on all sides, so that it must be soon exhausted and defeated. The spirit of the nation, however, is sufficiently roused so as to enable us to meet and overcome all adverse designs, of whatever kind, from whatever quarter.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
William L. Dayton, Esq., &c., &c., &c.