Mr. Canisius to Mr. Seward.

No. 25.]

Sir: Your despatch, dated October 10, in which you communicate to me that the President has disapproved of the letter I have written to Garibaldi, and that my commission as consul at Vienna, therefore, has been withdrawn, was received yesterday.

I have to submit to the decision of my government, but I believe, if the President had been acquainted with the circumstances under which I was induced to write this letter, he would not, at least, have removed me.

It is customary throughout Europe, I believe, that, wherever a consul resides, no application of foreign officers who desire to enter into our army are made to the minister, because it is regarded more as a business matter than a diplomatic affair. If I recollect right, the first offer to serve in our present war was made to Garibaldi by our consul at Antwerp. I have here received at least hundreds of applications from officers who desire to enter into our army, and not only from Austrians, but also from Prussians, Bavarians, Italians, and other nations.

At the time I wrote the letter to Garibaldi he was no longer in the service of the King of Italy, or anybody else; he was only waiting for the amnesty to go to a foreign country, as the King and all other monarchs desired him to do. My letter could, therefore, offend neither the one party nor the other, and not the slightest complication could ever have occurred in consequence of it. The style of my letter could also not be offensive to the Italian government, as it is a positive fact that that government considered Garibaldi’s movements patriotic, but not seasonable. The subsequent amnesty of Garibaldi, and [Page 1379] all his volunteers of Aspromonte, is a proof of this. The circular of the minister, Durando, to the Italian diplomatic corps, is another proof that the government considered Garibaldi’s movements patriotic. The language of my letter could, therefore, offend neither the government nor the people of Italy.

When Garibaldi was at Varignana, waiting for his pardon and release, I considered him as discharged from the service of every party, and merely a private citizen. The principal reason why I wrote this letter to him was to show to Europe, and especially to England, which admires Garibaldi so much, that his sympathy is in our favor, and not in favor of the south. The physical help of Garibaldi we shall hardly ever have, but his moral aid we have got already now, and it has strengthened our cause throughout Europe. I was anxious to effect this at a time when almost everybody seemed to turn against us. If I had had any idea that any one of our diplomatic corps would have made known the sentiments of this celebrated man, or that our President could have had the slightest objection to it for policy sake, or that the inducement to Garibaldi to help us fight was not a business matter belonging to a consul, but a diplomatic affair, nothing could have ever induced me to write to Garibaldi.

I consider such a punishment, as a removal from my place, rather severe, because it throws myself and wife and children helpless into the streets of Vienna, with no means to return to my adopted home.

All I have will be the consolation that I have labored during my short official life with all my zeal and heart for the best of my government and country. I have the honor to be, &c.,

F. CANISIUS, United States Consul.

Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.