Mr. Seward to Mr. Thayer

No. 16.]

Sir: Your private letter of the 27th of October has been received, and its suggestions are interesting and important. The insurgents, being irresponsible, do, and can do, many things which we cannot. One of these things, undoubtedly, is corrupting the press in Europe. Such a process, or even one of innocent appeal to foreign journals by agents of the government, would produce a universal clamor. This government can do nothing secretly. Agents the most discreet are communicative, and the interested espionage of each press over its rivals is a system of monstrous exaggeration. If, instead of an innocent appeal upon moral considerations for favor, we should resort to the use of money, even to pay advocates their expenses, the world would at once be alarmed with charges of corruption, which would, perhaps, be fatal to the national character, if not to the safety of the nation itself. Let us do the best we can with the customary machinery of international communication to enlighten and instruct the nations of Europe. If we fail in that, let us remember that it is here, not there, that the country is to be saved. A hostile press in Europe does, indeed, increase our labors and embarrassments, but it cannot destroy any more than it can build states.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


William S. Thayer, Esq, &c., &c., Alexandria.