Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.
Sir: Your despatch of February 3 (No. 110) has been received.
It suggests the expediency of our permitting the passage of letters purely commercial, and not tending to the violation of the blockade, between French merchants and their correspondents in New Orleans.
Mr. Mercier had, as you have recently been informed, already submitted Mr. Thouvenel’s wishes to me. We have felt a strong desire, if possible, to accede to this proposition. But it would be attended by many and great embarrassments. Equal privileges must be given to all other foreign merchants, and, of course, to our own merchants. The privilege must be extended, of course, beyond New Orleans, to all other marts in the insurrectionary region. It would be very difficult to perfect details for such a proceeding. These considerations have not been regarded as conclusive against it, but they have been sufficient to induce hesitation upon it until we see whether, indeed, the complaint cannot be removed in another and better way.[Page 320]
You see our army and our fleet at Cairo; yon see that another army and another fleet are behind Columbus, which alone is relied upon to close the Mississippi against us on the north. Though you may not see it, another army and another fleet are actualty on the way, by sea, to New Orleans. I have submitted these matters to Mr. Mercier, with an intimation of our expectations soon to be in occupation of New Orleans. I have said to him that we will revert to the subject if our operations shall prove unsuccessful or be unreasonably dilatory. He has probably submitted these facts to Mr. Thouvenel. It will do, however, no harm for you to communicate them to him.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
William L. Dayton, Esq., &c., &c., &c.