Mr. Seward to Mr. Sanford
Sir: I have not been forgetful of the suggestions, concerning our affairs, which were made to you by our excellent friend the King of Belgium, in the conversation with which he favored you on the 23d of May last. But at the time they were received here, military matters were in such a condition as to make it almost certain that any comment I might make upon the views of the King would be rendered worthless by decisive events to occur before the comment could be submitted to his Majesty. For this reason I delayed.
The steamers of the 4th and 8th have carried to Europe intelligence of the defeat of General Lee in three pitched battles, equalling in the magnitude of forces, and surpassing in severity, the conflicts of Waterloo and Solferino. The defeated army, however, was not destroyed nor captured. A decisive battle is now gathering at Antietam, and information of its result will probably go out with this despatch.
The fall of Vicksburg, on the 4th of July, undoubtedly to be followed soon by the fall of Port Hudson, must completely revolutionize the contest on the Mississippi. Our land and naval forces, relieved from the labor of protracted sieges, become a movable power, adequate to the practical restoration of commerce, or, in other words, the Union, through the centre of our territory, from our northern boundary to the Gulf of Mexico.
Indications already appear, that the work of internal dissolution is begun in the insurgent confederacy. Practically, it has lost all the States west of the Mississippi, and is confined to the Atlantic States, south of Cape Henry, and the Gulf States. Its capacity to raise new levies and new armies, if not exhausted, is greatly diminished.
The nation having arrived at the point when restoration is beginning to seem not only possible, but necessary, the obstacles presented by slavery seem the only ones to overcome. These have already become less formidable than ever before. If the King will look at the map I herewith send you, and will notice the local habitations of slavery in the United States, in relation to the actual position of our land and naval forces, he will at once perceive that it is now not in the power of slavery to dictate, but it is its interest to propose terms to the Union. This is entirely different from what has heretofore been understood in Europe to be the relative positions of these two great political forces. Persevering, resistance by, slavery, is abolition; surrender by slavery is probably equivalent to gradual and orderly emancipation.
I am authorized by the President to submit these views for the consideration of the King of Belgium. In performing this duty, I cannot omit to say that his Majesty has, by his disinterested and generous course towards the United States, well entitled himself to advise the government in the present emergency, and that his suggestions have been received and considered in a spirit of respectful and grateful affection.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Henry S. Sanford, Esq., &c., &c., &c., Brussels.