Mr. Seward to Mr Dayton

No. 446.]

Sir: I recur to your despatch of November 27, No. 379.

I am authorized to approve of your renewed remonstrances to Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys concerning the prosecution of the work on the rams which are being built in the French ports, and the hospitalities extended to the Florida and the Rappahannock.

You will persevere in these remonstrances if occasion shall warrant, and represent to Mr. Drouyn de l’Huys that for more than two years this government has borne, but has never acquiesced in, a policy of France and Great Britain in which they have recognized as a naval belligerent a domestic insurrection in this country, which has not held nor had a port or harbor, either in the region it claims to represent or elsewhere; all of whose ships are built, manned and equipped in the waters of Great Britain and France themselves, and all of whose nautical proceedings are conducted either in those waters or on the high seas, as an outlaw from their own country and from all other civilized states. These proceedings have been the subject of unremitted complaint and remonstrance. For all the losses and damages which the government and citizens of the United States have sustained by the depredation of the vessels in question, the United States, as they believe, justly hold the governments of the countries from which they have proceeded responsible, whenever they have been duly forewarned, and have omitted proper measures to prevent the departure of said hostile expeditions. During all this time we have been at peace with France and Great Britain. We have practiced absolute non-interference between them and their enemies in war, and have even lent them the advantages of counsel, with moral influence, to enable them to attain, without dishonor, the advantages of peace. We have excused the unkindness of which we have complained, on the ground that our own disloyal citizens, whom we could not effectually control, have been active and skilful in misleading public opinion in Europe in regard to the merits and probable results of our civil war. The evil, nevertheless, is becoming very serious, and is rapidly alienating the national sentiments of the United States. Our commerce is forced to seek protection under the flags of the very governments which afford the shelter of which we complain to the enemies engaged in devastating it. We fully believe that, in like circumstances, neither France nor Great Britain would endure such injuries as we are suffering, through the policy they have established, unless, indeed, like the United States, they were, at the same moment, deeply engaged in a formidable war, either at home or abroad. The political drama is inconstant; the scene may soon change. We may, at no distant day, be again at peace; and, in the chances of the hour, European maritime powers may become belligerents. Is it wise to leave open between them and the United States questions which, in such an unfortunate conjuncture, would produce confusion in regard to our own practice of neutral rights?

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


William L. Dayton Esq., &c., &c., &c., Paris