Mr. Corwin to Mr. Seward.

No. 31.]

Sir: I forwarded by a recent despatch a correspondence between Colonel or General James Reiley, an officer in the Texan rebel army, and the governor of Sonora, in which the rebel officer was evidently anxious to bring about a rupture between the confederate forces and the weak States of Mexico. Since then, I learn from newspaper reports that a demand has been made by the same officer for the right of marching troops across the Mexican territory to Guaymas. I have endeavored to impress the government here with the arguments against this proposition. As this government does not acknowledge the nationality of the flag borne by these troops, they are under no obligations which can be regarded as rational to treat with them in any way whatever. It is probable the idea of getting permission to enter Mexican territory peacefully is based upon the hope of uniting with Mexican malcontents in an effort to separate the northern Mexican States from this republic, and thus realize the project of the Knights of the Golden Circle, which is or was to conquer Mexico, and establish a government [Page 755]in which the Indians and mixed races should be disfranchised entirely and treated as slaves. I call your attention to this subject now, that the United States government may be fully apprised of all secession movements in that quarter, and give them their due weight in the general plans adopted for extinguishing the revolt in all its parts and everywhere. We have been waiting with intense anxiety here for some decisive result at Richmond. The belief gains ground here every day that the fate of Mexico hangs upon the successful termination of civil war in our country. The capture of New Orleans was regarded by most people here as proof of the inability of the south to sustain the conflict much longer; but the desperation with which the war is waged in Eastern Virginia and the cotton States still gives a ray of hope to those here who wish success to the attempts to overthrow the present government of Mexico with the aid of foreign troops.

The mystery which attends the movements of the French in Mexico, and the doubts as to the real designs of the Emperor in separating from England and Spain, and the doubts also whether he will sanction that separation ultimately, leaves the government here in the most painful uncertainty as to what it may be required to do in order to preserve its national existence.

The French steamer arrived at Vera Cruz on the 11th of this month. Our consul writes to me, under date of the 15th instant, that he had seen the commander, and he (the captain) informed him that the news of the repulse of the French troops at Puebla, and their consequent retreat to Orizaba, had reached France before he left by a vessel from San Francisco; that his ship was detained two days on that account; that the course of M. de Saligny here was much censured, but that ten thousand additional troops were embarked for Mexico, and would arrive in a few days. The effective French troops now here do not exceed five or at most six thousand men. Now, if the intention be to overrun the country, and establish a government by military force, ten additional men would be just as likely to effect that object as ten thousand. No force short of fifty or seventy-five thousand veteran troops could accomplish this object. Never were the Mexicans better united in any scheme whatever than now in opposition to foreign intervention, whether the object of that intervention be the establishment of a throne with a foreign potentate upon it, or the setting up of Almonte, or any other chief, under foreign auspices. All the rival chiefs, with one or two exceptions, are in the field in support of the present government. General Comonfort (a former president) is now in command of the united forces of three or four northern States, having his headquarters at San Luis Potosi, and is expected to be here in a few days, to receive orders from this government. Marquez, the celebrated reactionary robber, cooperates with the French army, but is on very bad terms, it is said, with the French commander, who, we learn, treats him with little respect. Twenty or thirty thousand troops might possibly march to this city and occupy it, but they could extend their operations no further, and would eventually be cut off from all communication with the sea-coast. If that should be, as I expect it will be, attempted, it would be as well they should imitate the example of Cortez, and destroy their fleet at Vera Cruz, for it would be useless, except to hold the city and castle at that point. The re-enforcement of ten thousand men, therefore, can only serve to aid in a treaty, but will be worthless if the conquest of Mexico is intended. It is well known here that M. Thouvenel assured Lord Cowley, at Paris, four months ago, that no more troops would be sent to Mexico. Has the Emperor changed his policy, or has he only disguised his intentions and duped the allies? Will he persevere in the subjugation of Mexico, and reduce it to a French colony, against the earnest remonstrance of England, Spain, and the United States?

* * * * *

I beg to be informed as speedily as possible on some of the most important [Page 756]points I have referred to; also of the fate of the treaty with Mexico, which I suppose must have been determined before now. Its ratification is considered here by Mexicans (and I agree with them fully) as vital to the interests, if not the existence, of Mexico. I transmit a newspaper copy of so much of the diplomatic correspondence touching Mexican affairs as was recently laid before the Spanish cortes. The papers, however, I dare say, have come into the possession of the department through other channels.

I hope the British steamer’s mail, due here on the 30th or 31st instant, will bring us cheering news from the United States, and I am not without hope from Europe also.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, Washington, D. C.