Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward

No. 92.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch No. 129, of date 13th of March, containing very interesting reflections on the close connexion of the political condition of Europe with the development of our great revolution.

You observe that the principal maritime powers of Europe are so far easy in regard to European questions that they remain at liberty to co-operate as they have generally done in a policy which is unfair and illiberal towards the United States and the other American republics. You add that the next four years of the present administration may well be occupied in restoring the prestige of our republic among the nations. No expression could certainly be more just or more moderate than those thus employed to characterize the conduct of the great western powers towards the American republic throughout her great contest with the slave power. It is difficult to speak with calmness of that unfairness and illiberally on the part of two governments which have not unfrequently affected at somewhat earlier periods of our history to hold the institution of African slavery in horror. That their whole moral influence, besides very considerable material support, has been given to the insurgent slaveholders in their efforts to destroy the United States, and to establish an independent state avowedly based upon slavery as its corner-stone, and that whenever in the course of our great struggle to maintain the national life disasters seemed most to thicken upon us, the danger of direct or indirect foreign interference in our domestic affairs has always become most imminent, are facts which history will forever hold fast, and which the American people are not likely soon to forget. If there remain to us any illusions that the tie of a common language and origin between ourselves and the subjects of the one power, or any hereditary friendships and traditional kind feeling towards us on the part of the other great nation, were likely to influence their combined policy towards us, these illusions have been rudely dispelled. This effect will be salutary if it impresses upon us the important truth that in international affairs, liberality and justice are freely manifested by great powers towards others as great as themselves, and that the Union, if true to itself, and to the great principles of human freedom on which it is founded, will be always strong enough to dispense with political friendships, which experience has shown to be impossible.

As to the recovery of our prestige among the nations, that process seems already to have begun. Several long debates in the English House of Commons on transatlantic subjects, with hardly one insulting or calumnious expression towards the United States, are certainly refreshing and novel phenomena.

The slaveholders’ conspiracy must indeed be considered in a desperate condition by its European patrons.

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In regard to the attitude of this government towards the United States and of the general tone of public opinion in this empire, I have only to repeat what it has so often been my pleasure to state, that nothing could be more frank and high-minded than they have been from the beginning. Now that the hours of our trial are numbered, and that the great republic is seen to be emerging more prosperous and powerful than ever, the feeling towards us has not diminished in cordiality.

I have so recently addressed you on the subject of German politics that I shall say nothing more to-day, save to observe that the Saxon-Bavarian-Hessian motion before the Diet has obtained, as you doubtless have noticed, the expected majority. The opposition of Prussia, and the fixed resolution of Austria to preserve its intimate relations with that kingdom, deprive the vote, I suppose, of much practical significance.

I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,


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