Mr. Seward to Mr. Motley.

No. 21.]

Sir: The President has recalled Mr. Canisius, our consul at Vienna, for reasons which are assigned in a despatch addressed to him by this department, a copy of which is herewith sent for your information. You may, if you feel it necessary, explain the subject to Count Rechberg, insomuch as it illustrates the policy of the United States in regard to foreign and friendly nations.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


John Lothrop Motley, Esq., &c., &c., &c.


Sir: Your despatch of the 17th ultimo brings a letter which was written by you to General Garibaldi on the first of September last.

I am directed by the President to inform you that your proceeding in writing that letter is disapproved.

First. It is, in its nature, not a consular but a diplomatic act, transcending your proper functions, which is considered the more unpardonable when it is remembered that the United States are represented not only at Turin but even at Vienna, where you reside, by a minister invested with the most ample diplomatic authority, constantly receiving special instructions from this department.

Secondly. Although the proceeding of inviting General Garibaldi to join the armies of the United States may have seemed to you to have been warranted by the fact that this government, a year ago, tendered a command in our armies [Page 567] to that distinguished soldier, yet your proceedings are not at all parallel to those which attended that case. That invitation was given by the President’s direct authority, and was not communicated to General Garibaldi until the consent of the King of Italy, in whose service the general then was, to its transmission was obtained by the diplomatic representatives of this country, acting under direct instructions from this department.

Thirdly. In your communication to General Garibaldi you describe his recent movement as a great patriotic work undertaken in the interest of his country, although the fact was known to you that the undertaking had been prohibited by the government of that country, and that General Garibaldi was taken in arms against that government. The policy of the United States, in regard to Italy, is absolute abstinence from all intervention in its domestic affairs. You have taken up an issue between the government and a portion of the people of Italy who had risen in arms against it.

At the present conjuncture, when every care is necessarily taken to avoid injurious complications in foreign affairs, and especially in Europe, proceedings on your part so entirely divergent from this judicious policy cannot be overlooked. Upon these grounds your commission as consul at Vienna is withdrawn.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


T. Canisius, Esq., United States Consulate, Vienna.