Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward
Sir: I found occasion to-day to say to Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys that when I took the liberty of interrupting some remarks he was making this day week, in view of the contingency of a war with the United States, Marshal Forey had not made his speech on the senatorial address in reply to the discourse from the throne. A perusal of that speech had led me to fear I had been guilty of a neglect of duty in not sooner bringing to his excellency’s attention an instruction which I had been waiting some weeks for a propitious moment to present him. I then briefly stated the subject of your instruction No. 336, in reference to a provision for the mutual protection of the mail steamers of France and the United States in the event of war, and went on to say that while nothing was further from our thoughts or wishes than a war, yet it seemed only ordinary prudence to provide against a class of dangers to which the commerce of maritime nations was always more or less exposed.
Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys said he had no idea of the nature of the convention, referred to in your despatch, between the United States and England, and then exclaimed, “How things move. When we made our convention with you no one dreamed that such a provision could ever become necessary between France and the United States.” “Very true,” I said, “but capital is very vigilant, and scents danger from afar; besides,” I added, “when I see what an alarm has been created by the unfounded reports from Bagdad, repetitions of which were to be expected at intervals so long as he French army remained in Mexico, I thought it prudent at least for both nations to give to their commerce the benefit of such a convention as we had with England.” I then handed him a copy of the letter of Mr. McLane of the 8th of October, 1864, and of the 20th article of our postal convention with England, for his information. His excellency said he would submit the subject to his colleagues, but expressed no opinion about it himself. I attribute his silence to the circumstances under which I submitted it to his notice.
I am, sir, with great respect, your very obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.