Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
Sir: In regard to the subject referred to in your several despatches received this week, numbers 741, 742, I have nothing further to report, excepting the reception of a note from Lord Russell, of the 10th instant, in acknowledgment of mine of the 31st ultimo, a copy of which accompanied my No. 530, sent to you last week. A copy of his reply is herewith transmitted.
My attention had been already called to the existence of the joint application of the British and French authorities to the United States, alluded to in the copy of your despatch to Mr. Dayton, which accompanied your No. 741, and to the possibility of making use of it in the present emergency. The difficulty is, that the answer is too obvious. The request was to refuse to receive privateers. The two governments affect to consider the vessels now complained of as war ships, commissioned by a belligerent power. Not to receive them would involve the necessity of refusing to receive those of the United States, or else of appearing to depart from the declared neutrality.[Page LVIII]
The original error committed in a hasty and unqualified recognition of the rebels as a belligerent, is what vitiates all the later policy of both these powers, and entangles Great Britain more especially in the difficulties growing out of the necessity to recognize these vessels, equipped and manned in her own ports, in defiance of her own laws, as the navy of a foreign power.
There has been little done in the Alexandra case this week beyond the assignment of Tuesday next, in the court of exchequer, as the time to hear the law officers of the crown on the motion for a new trial.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.