Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 536.]

Sir: The effect of the late speech of the French Emperor to the French chambers, and with the letters with which he has followed it up, addressed to the different powers of Europe, has been to concentrate the attention of the various countries upon the project of a convention, which he proposes should be held at Paris. Opinions of the effect of this movement widely vary. Whilst in some quarters it is construed as likely to terminate in a war, in others it is hailed as a symptom of coming tranquillity. In London the proposal was received at first with marked disapprobation. A cabinet meeting was called to consider it on Tuesday, and it continued in session until Wednesday. It is understood that the reply agreed upon does not absolutely decline to take a part, but it proposes preliminary inquiries as to the object and extent of the subjects to be considered before positively consenting.

* * * * * * * *

In the meanwhile the effect of this movement has been greatly to concentrate the attention of all nations on this side of the ocean upon the difficulties [Page LX] existing in Europe, and to a corresponding degree to divert it from affairs in the United States. The Emperor’s notice of these is brief and purely formal. In England the determination to keep entirely aloof gains ground daily. Whatever sympathy there may have been heretofore for the rebels as the weaker party is diminishing under the effects of their own late proceedings. Any further military successes on our part would turn the scale decidedly, and leave them to their fate, without a sigh of regret. The only mode now resorted to in counteraction of this tendency is the exposition of our own shortcomings. The most serious shock to confidence in our military operations is given in the frequency of the change in the great commands, indicating a serious deficiency in the capacity of our officers to conduct a war on the present scale. Much use is made of this argument at the present time.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


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