Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward

No. 287.]

Sir: Your despatches Nos. 308, 309, and 310 have been received.

I refer to despatch No. 304, in reference to the law authorizing the President to issue letters of marque and reprisal, only for the purpose of saying at I have made to Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys the explanations therein directed. I did this as a matter of precaution only. As a general rule, it is wisest, I think, to wait for complaints before explanations are volunteered; but I have found by experience that Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys sometimes acts upon supposed facts without notice to me in advance, and therefore, where I am charged with explanations to be made at discretion, feel it safest to make them at once.

I informed Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys in the same interview that you had written to me that I must “give no credit to rumors of alienation between Mr. Mercier and our government,” and I read to him, likewise, the kind remarks made by you in despatch No. 309 in reference to the relations between France and the United States. With all this he expressed his gratification, and said that Mr. Mercier had likewise informed him that the personal relations between you and himself were entirely kind. This explanation was the more necessary from the fact that the European journals have generally seized upon the alleged contradictions in your and his correspondence for the purpose of fomenting unpleasant feelings. If the journals of the United States could only be made to understand how much mischief they do to us abroad by exaggerating and harping upon these things, I am sure they would exercise more caution.

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I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c.