Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 740.]

Sir: I have received your despatch of the 1st of October, (No. 504.)

The very able speech made by Earl Russell at Blairgowrie is, in its more important aspects, so just and liberal towards the United States that it cannot fail to modify the sentiments of asperity hitherto prevailing among the people in both countries.

Every day’s experience of new difficulties in the conduct of the relations of the two countries upon principles which render possible the despatch of armed naval expeditions from British ports to make war on the commerce of the United States could not fail to increase anxiety here, and irritation in both countries. It is not forgotten by this government that one war between the United States and Great Britain has already arisen out of controversies about neutral rights, not more serious than those with which we are now so constantly engaged. The United States, at all times sincerely deprecating a recurrence of that form of national calamity, must necessarily deprecate it now more earnestly than they have done heretofore, for the obvious reason that it would coincide with and aggravate a painful civil conflict. We have never doubted that the government of Great Britain are as sincerely opposed to an unnecessary disturbance of our mutual peace as we ourselves are, and, therefore, we have been anxious that her Majesty’s ministers should understand, as clearly as we do, the dangers towards which, as it has seemed to us, we were drifting. It would be no more congenial with the disposition of the President to use these apprehensions by way of menace or intimidation to Great Britain than it would be consistent with the generous spirit of Great Britain to be approached in that manner. In the absence of specifications, I have not been able to find in your correspondence with Earl Russell anything which, dispassionately interpreted, could justly expose you to censure in this respect. If, however, anything of the kind should be indicated to you, or should occur either on your part or on mine, the President will expect that such explanations shall be made as her Majesty’s government, with a just regard to the sensibilities of the British nation, may require.

The transactions in which we are engaged are too great, and our responsibilities concerning them are too grave, to allow us for a moment the indulgence of individual irritation, or even of the national jealousy which is quick in seeking or in giving occasions of offence. Great Britain has this one advantage over us in all these cases, that the difficulties between the two countries result directly from a domestic feud of our own, in which unnatural and disloyal Americans are, with infinite art and labor seeking to involve foreign and friendly nations.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


Charles F. Adams, Esq., &c., &c, &c.