Mr. Seward to Mr. Motley

No 41.]

Sir: Your despatch of August 17 (No. 31) has been received.

When France made war against Mexico, we asked of France explanations of her objects and purposes. She answered, that it was a war for the redress of grievances; that she did not intend to permanently occupy or [Page 1008] dominate in Mexico, and that she should leave to the people of Mexico a free choice of institutions of government. Under these circumstances the United States adopted, and they have since maintained, entire neutrality between the belligerents, in harmony with the traditional policy in regard to foreign wars. The war has continued longer than was anticipated. At different stages of it, France has, in her intercourse with us, renewed the explanations before mentioned. The French army has now Captured Puebla and the capital, while the Mexican government, with its principal forces, is understood to have retired to San Luis Potosi, and a provisional government has been instituted under French auspices in the city of Mexico, which being supported by arms, divides the actual dominion of the country with the Mexican government, also maintained by armed power. That provisional government has neither made nor sought to make any communication to the government of the United States, nor has it been, in any way, recognized by this government. France has made no communication to the United States concerning the provisional government which has been established in Mexico, nor has she announced any actual or intended departure from the policy in regard to that country which her before-mentioned explanations have authorized us to expect her to pursue. The United States have received no communications relating to the recent military events in Mexico from the recognized government of that country.

The imperial government of Austria has not explained to the United States that it has an interest in the subject, or expressed any desire to know their views upon it. The United States have heretofore, on proper occasions, frankly explained to every party having an interest in the question the general views and sentiments which they have always entertained, and still entertain, in regard to the interests of society and government on this continent. Under these circumstances, it is not deemed necessary for the representatives of the United States, in foreign countries, to engage in the political debates which the present unsettled aspect of the war in Mexico has elicited. You will be promptly advised if a necessity for any representations to the government of Austria shall arise.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


J. Lothrop Motley, Esq., &c., &c., Vienna.