Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.
Sir: The President, as you have been already informed, is directing that measures be taken to mitigate the rigor of our blockade, with a view to the relief of France, whom we would not willingly see suffer unnecessarily by reason of the calamities which have befallen our own country. I have so often said that the concession of belligerent rights to the insurgents has aggravated and prolonged these calamities that I need not now repeat that remark. I may, however, observe with entire propriety, I think, that the United States have a right to expect at least actual neutrality from the foreign governments which have proclaimed it. Certainly France, while looking to us to mitigate our war in the interest of herself and other friendly nations like herself, could not, without protest, see the same war prosecuted against us by subscription among the merchants of England. Entertaining this opinion, I send you a copy of a recent letter which has been received from our consul at Liverpool, and of a letter founded thereupon which I have addressed to Mr. Adams.
The pain inflicted by transactions like this is mitigated by the concession which other nations imply in their treatment of us, namely: that we are strong enough to overcome our domestic enemies with all the aid they can unlawfully obtain abroad, and that we are believed capable of being generous to any extent that foreign interest, passion, or prejudice shall seek to profit by our national misfortunes.
But this consideration does not tend to the consummation which is necessary for ourselves and for the world. We want peace with independence, and it is equally the interest of France and of Great Britain that we be as [Page 337] soon as possible allowed to enjoy them. Let us have on all sides true neutrality, and this hateful and injurious domestic strife will, within a very few months, be remembered only as a lesson full of instruction to all nations.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
William L. Dayton, Esq., &c., &c., &c.