Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of December 6, No. 70.
The President’s message, the American diplomatic correspondence of 1862, and Mr. Bright’s Manchester speech, all appearing at the same time, have given a great fillip to the discussions of the American question.
The anti-slavery position of the government is at length giving us a substantial foothold in European circles. And the seceding States are at the same time feeling the heavy weight of the slavery load.
If we could have begun where we now stand, our position in Europe would at this moment be well nigh impregnable in the field of discussion. The American question has now become a dangerous one for the ruling classes, in every deliberative body in Europe.
So long as it was a question between a government and a revolt, the instincts of even the liberal masses had a tendency to side with the rebellion. Revolts being instinctively regarded as merely protests against some form of oppression. But everybody can understand the significance of a war where emancipation is written on one banner and slavery on the other. And thus, though we have no strength with any political organization in Europe, we are now strong in the public assembly and in the press, constraining, at least, the respect of even the paid advocates of dynastic rule; while the solid weight of debate, private and public, goes wholly in our [Page 880] favor. We need not now fear, but rather welcome the parliamentary discussions which it is to be supposed will come in England and elsewhere during the winter.
The main drawback to these considerations is to be found in our repeated misfortunes before Richmond. The repulse of General Burnside at Fredericksburg is a heavy blow to the remaining belief in Europe of our ability to conquer the rebellion in the field. If the emancipation scheme fails, there is danger that we shall soon be regarded everywhere on this side as being destined to fail altogether.
But this will not help the bad position of the seceding States, but, on the other hand, rather tend to uncover the atrocity they meditate; the growing probability of the realization of their designs bringing them into bolder relief.
It is an often expressed hope in financial circles that our courts will declare the legal-tender enactment of last year to be unconstitutional. It is thought if this should be done, and Mr. Chase’s recommendations be sustained by Congress, that our financial situation would soon again command the confidence of capitalists abroad.
The present administration of this government is still busy with its reformatory measures. It has aimed at considerable changes in its colonial policy, which have at last received a decisive check in one branch of the legislative department, and the retirement of the colonial minister is likely to be the consequence, and possibly the entire reconstruction of the cabinet.
I have not yet received any reply from this government in relation to the proposed emigration of colored persons to its colonial possessions from the United States.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.