Mr. Seward to Mr. Sanford.
Sir: Your despatch of April 17 (No. 61) has been received.
We have been constantly and earnestly desirous to relax the rigor of our blockade, and thus relieve the suffering which has resulted from our unhappy civil war in Europe, as far as that object could be effected in that way. But this was hazardous for military reasons, so long as the principal southern ports were held and occupied by the insurgents under our siege.
The maritime powers, by treating the insurgents as a lawful belligerent, obliged us to maintain war against them not only on land but at sea, in every part of the world. The capture of New Orleans, of Beaufort, of Newbern, of Fernandina, and of Port Royal, and the partial capture of Savannah, have changed our position in this respect, so that we seem to have a fair expectation of clearing the ocean of rebel vessels and of protecting ourselves against contraband commerce. Measures are therefore being taken to open New Orleans and one or more other ports without delay. If it shall fall in your way to urge the return of the maritime powers to the position they held in relation to us before the insurrection broke out, as a demonstration of reciprocal good will towards the United States, you will do a great service to the country and Europe by performing that duty. There can be [Page 654] no doubt that the war is approaching its end. Nothing can protract it but the attitude of proclaimed neutrality, yet practical encouragement of the insurgents, maintained so perseveringly and yet so unnecessarily by the European powers.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
H. S. Sanford, Esq.,&c., &c., &c., Brussels.