Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.
Sir: Your despatch of March 31 (No. 131) has been received.
I have already exhausted in other papers the principal topics it presents.
Mr. Mercier proposed in a very proper manner that he would visit Richmond if we should not object. Of course the President approved, being satisfied that he would not in any way compromit the relations existing between the French government and our own. It is impossible not to see now that the insurrection is shrinking and shrivelling into very narrow dimensions. I hope that Mr. Mercier may come back prepared with some plan to alleviate the inconveniences of his countrymen in the south, who are not acting against this government, and, in that way, against the peace and harmony of the two countries.
The real difficulty is, that the southern ports are, and even the whole southern country is, now actually in a state of siege, and communication in anything like a normal manner is impossible.
You will notice that General McDowell has entered Fredericksburg, and General Banks is marching successfully quite through the valley of Virginia. We have reason to expect Savannah to come into our possession within the next ten days, and Fort Macon to fall about as soon. The insurrectionary leaders have made a conscription of all between 18 and 35. They issue new paper which sells for gold at the rate of one hundred dollars for twenty.
Mr. Thouvenel’s assurances to you on the subject of Mexico are eminently satisfactory to the President.
It is among the most gratifying indications of our speedy success in restoring the peace of the country that all the foreign ministers here (so far as I know) are now satisfied of the certainty of the event, and more than one of them are asking leaves of absence to visit Europe, a privilege they would not ask except under such a conviction. Mr. Hülsemann thinks he can go home; Mr. Schleiden has gone.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
William L. Dayton, Esq., &c., &c., &c.