Mr. Seward to Mr. Cameron.

No. 8.]

Sir: Your despatch of July 23 (No. 4) has been received. The favorable sentiments expressed by Prince Gortchacoff concerning the proposed construction of the Russian telegraph with our own is especially gratifying to the President, and he has also received with sincere pleasure the account you have given us of the very distinguished hospitalities which were extended to yourself and other members of the legation in your late visit at Peterhoff.

The information you have given us concerning the antagonism to our cause and our institutions which you have discerned in Europe is confirmed by despatches and reports from nearly all our representatives abroad. We therefore accept it as a fact belonging to our case. But I trust that you, as well as all our representatives abroad, are fully prepared, without special instructions, to meet and oppose it as circumstances require. So far as the hostility you have described results from a dislike of our republican institutions, I need only say that those institutions have been adopted by our choice for ourselves, not for any other nation or people. They are forced or thrust on no other people. If they are not perfectly adapted to the condition of society which exists here, they will perish without foreign intervention; if they are so adapted, they will not fall before any combination that may array itself against them. So far as that hostility grows out of commercial and maritime losses which European nations suffer in consequence of the war, I trust that you find no difficulty in showing them, first, that the civil war has resulted from no act, choice, or policy of the government, but from an unnecessary, unprincipled, and wanton rebellion; that to resist and suppress that insurrection is a necessity for the government, while that resistance becomes a duty in the interest of government everywhere, and even in the interest of society itself. If the causes of the war, or the probable results of it, are debated, I am sure that you will have no difficulty in defending the rights of man against the aggravation and perpetuation of human slavery. To all complaints against this as a protracted war, you can answer, first, that it is those European nations which make the complaint which have protracted the war by conceding belligerent rights to the insurgents, and by exhibitions of sympathy with them, encouraging them to expect recognition, aid, or sympathy; and, secondly, that Europe can have the war end just so soon as the ruling classes on that continent shall be content to endure the existence of the United States hereafter, as heretofore, one united, sovereign, inoffensive, people.

We certainly have all the desire to avoid controversies or contests with foreign powers which a constitutional predisposition towards peace, and a generous spirit of beneficent enterprise, inspire, to say nothing of the anxiety which, in view of our disturbed condition, alarms of foreign intervention [Page 454] must necessarily awaken. Under the influence of these and other motives, with which you are so well acquainted that I need not specially refer to them, we are doing all that lies in our power to prosecute the war with the vigor you so sagaciously recommend, and to win the victories you justly deem so important for foreign effect. I trust that under the energetic administration of our new commanding general these results will be attained. But after all I cannot forget, in a crisis like this, that there is a power higher than any human government that regulates the course of affairs as well in war as in peace, and that gives and withholds victories at his pleasure, while he tries the virtue of nations. I should not despair, therefore, if our present expectations, which seem to me so reliable, should be disappointed. If, in consequence of that disappointment, we are destined, as you seem to imagine, to a contest with foreign powers, I trust that even in that extreme case we shall be found not altogether unprepared for the issue. When that issue comes to trial the mere politicians will sink in Europe, and the people will arise. Politicians see only interests and ambition in the conduct of human affairs. On the contrary, every people always seek to know and to do just what is right. There is, as it seems to us, nothing new in the antagonism of European sentiment which you describe. The world sees the same feeling reveal itself anew whenever a nation or people blessed above other nations divides and delivers itself over to civil strife. Probably it is a divine and therefore a wise appointment. But foreign nations may be reminded that there seldom is a national division which foreign intervention fails to heal, and a nation once healed by that severe remedy is stronger than ever before. Moreover, it is not every national impulse or any mere national prejudice, however strong, that wise governments will accept as a sufficient justification for war. I cannot believe that any European state will cross the ocean to make war with us without examining the grounds of offence, calculating the results, and counting the cost. Whenever any government does this, it will find powerful impulses affecting it in favor of peace and friendship with the United States.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Simon Cameron, Esq., &c., &c., &c.