Mr. Seward to Mr. Webb
Sir: I recur to your despatch No. 22, for the purpose of noticing your suggestions in regard to domestic affairs.
As misfortunes seldom come singly, so the reverses which befel the national arms at Richmond proved to be the beginning of a series of grave disasters, and of even more serious alarms. The campaign begun by the insurgents with the design of securing the loyal border States, and even threatening the loyal free States, and thus obtaining the capitulation of Washington, was prosecuted with so much secrecy and reserve that its details were not even fully understood in this country before its failure occurred. The conspirators were more communicative in Europe. They had awakened the most sanguine expectations of success in political circles on that continent, and the government here was favored with persuasions to adapt itself to the altered fortunes which were before it, and study how to obtain a possible substitute for the Union and the blessed institutions which were to be forever lost. The President met the new emergency as you have already seen. It is believed that the insurrection has at no time been so weak, or the Union so strong, as it is now.[Page 1258]
We are still hearing of intrigues abroad for recognition or for intervention, but they do not disturb the public confidence. The laxity shown by the British government in enforcing, or rather in failing to enforce its proclaimed neutrality, is producing fruitful and annoying discontents.
We are building a navy with all the despatch that ample resources, materials and labor can secure. Nevertheless, we are obliged to bear many misfortunes and endure some painful humiliations that cannot be prevented, because we cannot increase that despatch.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
James Watson Webb, Esq.