Mr. Blatchford to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your despatches Nos. 3 and 4, and circulars Nos. 24 and 25. I arrived here on the 15th instant, and at once took steps for an interview with Cardinal Antonelli, secretary of state. He granted it to me on the 18th instant, when I delivered to him a copy of my letters of credence to his Holiness the Pope, and requested him to appoint a time when I could present to his Holiness the original in person. I soon received from the cardinal a despatch appointing November 26, at mid-day. At that time I repaired to the Vatican, accompanied by Mr. Stillman, the American consul here, and also by Mr. J. C. Hooker, of this city, whom I had appointed as my private secretary. I was presented to his Holiness by Mr. Stillman, when I addressed him as follows:
“I am happy in the honor of being presented to your Holiness as the representative of the United States of America near the Holy See and of delivering to your Holiness, as I now do, my letter of credence as such representative from the President of the United States. I am happy, too, to avail myself of this occasion to express to your Holiness, on the part of my government, the assurance of the best wishes as well of the government as of the people of the United States for the health and happiness of your Holiness, and for the safety, prosperity, and happiness of the Roman people, and to assure your Holiness that the United States constantly preserve a lively remembrance of the many generous manifestations they have received of the good will and friendship of your Holiness, and that your Holiness may constantly rely upon them for the practice of all the duties which grow out of the relations of the two countries as independent members of the family of nations.”
To my address his Holiness replied, in substance, that it gave him pleasure to acknowledge the kindly feeling manifested by the government of the United States towards himself and the liberality shown to the Catholic religion, to which is owing so much of the growth and prosperity of the United States; that the affairs of our country had always interested him greatly, and its wonderful prosperity and enterprise had given it a great importance among the nations of Europe, all of whom are affected by the change in its condition, and suffer from the present troubles; that he had always prayed for our welfare, and continued to do so now, and especially that we might be speedily restored to peace; that he very much wished that the mediation of some of the European powers might be effectual, and thus end all the misery and bloodshed. But, he said, it is evident that this mediation, to be accepted, must be tendered by a power so unimportant as to irritate neither the pride nor the sensitiveness of the American nation; some smaller country that has no interest in diminishing the power of the United States, having neither army nor navy, and whose very humbleness may make the offer of her services [Page 1153] acceptable. He said, also, that he had only a few battalions of soldiers, and no navy except a single corvette, which he had constructed in England for carrying cargoes of grain from Ancona around to Civita Vecchia during the last revolution; but now, all his states on the Adriatic are taken away, and even the corvette is useless.
Here his Holiness changed the subject, not caring, probably, as it struck me, to say anything as to an offer of his own mediation, and asked several questions about the war, which I answered.
His reception of me was very kind and cordial. He arose from his seat, as I was taking my departure, tendered to me his hand and said: “I ask the blessing of God on your government and country, and desire that peace may return to it.”
After my audience with his Holiness, I waited on the Cardinal Antonelli, and delivered to him a copy of your despatch (No. 4) relating to the dismissal of the consul at Vienna. After some personal inquiries, the cardinal turned the conversation on our war, and said, in substance: If I had the honor to be an American citizen I would do everything in my power to preserve the strength of the nation undivided. That the great European powers are very much interested in the weakness of the United States, and doubtless see, with pleasure, the enfeebling of its forces brought about by the war, and would do all in their power to widen the division; that he would surrender for the moment every minor question of policy and interest for the preservation of the Union and of its political power; that the success of the present attempt at revolution would in a few years place the United States in the position of the South American republics, which it seemed to him would be a misfortune to the whole world.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c.