Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I think I may safely say that, whatever our embarrassments may still be at home, our transatlantic difficulties are mainly overcome.
The question of the recognition of the Confederate States by the leading powers it is now plain is indefinitely postponed. It seems to be at last authoritatively proclaimed that until the United States desist from their attempt to put down the rebellion, the great states will not recognize the confederate government.
The motives which prompted the withholding of this announcement when it might have cut short the insurrection and its utterance now will be variously interpreted. Whatever those motives may have been, the effect of what has been done is incontestable. It was the best course to exhaust to the utmost both combatants.
The other great point of solicitude, the cotton question, is in a great measure quieted. The equilibrium between demand and supply has been reached sooner than was anticipated. The returns show that for two months the stock of cotton in Europe has not diminished, and is nearly as large as usual, while the prospective receipts for the remainder of the year are computed to be considerably in excess of last season. England and France have reduced their consumption of raw cotton one-half. They formerly used nearly three million bales per annum. They are now consuming about one and a half millions. And the open markets of the world are now able to supply them this quantity, and the rest of Europe in proportion. The deficient product is made good by reduced consumption and the extra product of wool and flax. The rise in the price of wool, in which there were extensive speculations last autumn, has been checked, and the spring opens on declining prices for that great staple to the extent of at least ten per centum, and the market is regular.[Page 886]
There is hardly any more extraordinary spectacle growing out of our war than the fact that the revenues and expenditures of England and France, and their commercial relations generally, for the year 1862, exhibit scarcely any disturbance in consequence of the failure of the supply of American cotton. If cotton has failed, other things have not, and the deficiency is made up in one way or another. Fortunately, the sheep is as much of an annual crop as cotton, and can be increased almost at will.
It is thus, that at the end of less than two years from the commencement of our war, the perturbations of the European cotton market, from which so much was feared, have measurably ceased, excepting so far as they grow out of uncertainty in regard to the termination of the contest. The industry thrown out of employment is gradually finding its way into other channels, and though there is great local loss and suffering, it is fast absorbed in the general prosperity.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.