Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward

No. 248.]

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your despatch (unnumbered,) under date of 7th of February, relative to the peace conference near Fortress Monroe.

This despatch has since been published in the public press from documents communicated to Congress, has had wide circulation, and attracted much attention.

So far as my observation extends, it seems to have made a most favorable impression, and to have come very opportunely in aid to counteract a widespread apprehension of ulterior foreign aggression on our part.

The earnest endeavors of the agents of the insurgents abroad to convey the belief that the extrinsic policy referred to therein did not originate with or was favored by them, seem to have failed. People are beginning to remember that [Page 76] the aggressive spirit and language on our side, which so frequently excited apprehension abroad before the rebellion, almost invariably emanated from southern influences, and that the moderation displayed by our government, amid the trials which have beset it for the past four years, are indications that our future course will continue to be equally just and conservative.

There exists still, however, a very general but diminishing feeling of distrust touching our foreign policy after the peace which all now anticipate. It is assumed that our great armies cannot safely be disbanded, and will require employment, which popular sentiment will favor in the direction of Canada or Mexico.

My reply to the expression of these apprehensions is, that if our past course towards foreign states is no guarantee to them for the future, our interests are also opposed to other wars than in defence of our nationality; that we have now all the territory that we can well govern, and the sentiment of the country is opposed to further acquisitions; and that our practical people, having learned now that war means debt, taxation, draft, and deranged trade and finances, will not be able to favor any “extrinsic policy” likely to renew such costly experience.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.