Mr. Seward to Mr. Webb.

No. 38.]

Sir: A despatch was received from you on the 19th instant, which, from attending circumstances, I assume was written in July last, but which I am unable to identify, as it bears neither a number nor a date.

Your remarks on the general aspect of political affairs at home are spirited and just. Of course I must speak with some reserve concerning those in which you discuss the probable dispositions, purposes, and feelings of some of the maritime powers in regard to our unhappy civil war.

You will accept my thanks for them, with an assurance that they shall not be overlooked.

The law of compensation, which makes reaction always follow effort and which measures progress, by the balance between advance and retreat applies as well in war as in peace. We had a series of brilliant and most effective victories during the months of February, March, April, May; and June. On the first of July we incurred a failure at Richmond, which was followed by considerable reverses during that month and the following months. This change in the tide of the war produced some popular consternation and alarm. Our new levies, however, began to come in about the first of September, and we have since that time been able to meet successfully an invasion of the loyal States, which was projected with much deliberation by the insurgents during the summer, and assumed a menacing form with the opening of the autumn. None of our really important positions have been lost, and we expect soon to resume aggressive movements with vigor and effect.

The note of the Marquis d’Abrantes has been considered, and it is not thought necessary to dwell longer upon the unfortunate event which it recalls. If nothing new occurs to disturb our intercourse with Brazil, the past may be forgotten. On the other hand, you will be watchful against any further disregard of our national rights.

The present would be an unpropitious time to give prominence even to just private claims upon foreign governments. While you have acted wisely in bringing the claims of our citizens against Brazil to the remembrance of the government there, you will be careful not to press them, without further instructions, to a point where an issue must be made upon the refusal to adjust them.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


James Watson Webb, Esq., &c., &c., &c.