Mr. Nelson to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to enclose herein a copy of a note by me addressed under date of the 12th instant to his excellency the secretary of foreign relations of Chili, conveying to him the satisfaction experienced by my government upon learning the just and liberal sentiments of his own in regard to the policy of the American States and their mutual relations, and also upon being informed of the generous sentiments of sympathy entertained [Page 1286] by the enlightened statesmen of Chili towards the United States, and of confidence in their final triumph over the dangers by which they are momentarily assailed.
In former despatches I have had occasion to allude to the gratifying change in the feelings of the people of Chili towards the United States, as manifested by the press and private individuals, as well as by the government itself.
A few days since I called upon Don Manuel A. Tocornal, secretary of foreign relations. The visit was of an entirely unofficial character, and at his private residence; but the conversation, being almost exclusively confined to the state of affairs in the United States, was of so interesting a nature that I deem it my duty to transmit to you a brief summary of the same.
Mr. Tocornal, after alluding to the reply of the cabinet of St. Petersburg to the note of M. Drouyn de l’Huys, proposing mediation in American affairs, characterized it as “frank and just,” stating that Russia had pursued a frank and friendly policy towards the United States from the beginning of the rebellion. He stated that he felt the deepest interest in the preservation of the integrity of the American Union, and frequently conversed with the venerable Don Andres Bello upon American affairs, looking up to his counsels as to the impartial views of a philosopher, whose advanced age and approaching end rendered his words most impressive, and worthy of respectful attention. Mr. Bello stated to him that as an American, in its continental sense, he could not but regard with the most profound interest the existing struggle, and feel earnestly hopeful for the preservation of the Union; that viewing the subject dispassionately, Americans could not regard the possible breaking up of so great and good a nation otherwise than as a calamity to mankind.
That Americans must not deceive themselves nor suffer remembrances of past events to blind them to the true interests of this continent, which would receive a fatal blow in the severance of the United States. That, putting aside all considerations save those of mere interest, it was evident that in the maintenance of one great power in the north instead of two of lesser might lay the great safeguard of the integrity of the political rights of this continent. “What,” said he, “would be the result of dissolution? We acknowledge that the United States are far in advance of us in all the elements of progress and civilization. We know that the north alone would be scarcely less great, as compared with South America, than the United States; that even the south alone would be great in comparison, yet the question would finally be transferred to Europe for settlement, and we need the protecting power of one great and undivided nation in the north to check her ambitious designs. Were the rebellion to succeed, peace would not ensue; for while in the north there were the grand elements of conservatism, labor, intellectuality and respect for authority, in the south there existed the thirst for territory and the germs of continual discord. The United States not only need no more extended territory, but believe that by widening their boundaries their power would be weakened; while the south has been for years watching her defenceless neighbors, hoping to acquire territory for the extension of her favorite institution.”
Mr. Tocornal concluded by stating that he coincided fully in the views and sentiments expressed by Mr. Bello.
I availed myself of the occasion to assure the minister of the satisfaction with which my government had been made aware of the generous sympathy and confidence expressed by Chili in the success of our arms in the present struggle, and reiterated the assurance that the United States never for one [Page 1287] moment admitted the possibility of a severance of that Union, or the destruction of the best and wisest government in the world by the hand of faction.
* * * * * * * * *
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States.