Mr. Seward to Mr. Campbell

No. 3.]

Sir: You are aware that a friendly and explicit arrangement exists between this government and the Emperor of France to the effect that he will withdraw his expeditionary military forces from Mexico in three parts, the first of which shall leave Mexico in November next, the second in March next, and the third in November, 1867, and that upon the evacuation being thus completed, the French government will immediately come upon the ground of non-intervention in regard to Mexico which is held by the United States.

Doubts have been entertained and expressed in some quarters upon the question whether the French government will faithfully execute this agreement. No such doubts have been entertained by the President, who has had repeated and even recent assurances that the complete evacuation of Mexico by the French will be consummated at the periods mentioned, or earlier if compatible with climatical, military, and other conditions.

There are grounds for supposing that two incidental questions have already engaged the attention of the French government, namely:

First. Whether it should not advise the departure of the Prince Maximilian for Austria, to be made before the withdrawal of the French expedition.

Second. Whether it would not be consistent with the climatical, military, and other conditions before mentioned to withdraw the whole expeditionary force at once instead of retiring in three parts, and at different periods.

No formal communication, however, upon this subject has been made by the French Emperor to the government of the United States. When the subject has been incidentally mentioned, this department, by direction of the President, has replied that the United States await the execution of the agreement for evacuation by the French government at least according to its letter, while they would be gratified if that agreement could be executed with greater promptness and despatch than are stipulated.

Under these circumstances the President expects that within the next month (November) a portion, at least, of the French expeditionary forces will retire from Mexico, and thinks it not improbable that the whole expeditionary force may be withdrawn at or about the same time. Such an event cannot fail to produce a crisis of great political interest in the republic of Mexico. It is important that you be either within the territories of that republic, or in some other place near at hand, so as to assume the exercise of your functions as minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the republic of Mexico.

What may be the proceedings of the Prince Maximilian in the event of a partial or complete evacuation of Mexico, of course, cannot now be certainly foreseen. What may be the proceedings of Mr. Juarez, the President of the republic of Mexico, in the same event, cannot now be definitely anticipated.

We are aware of the existence of several political parties in Mexico other than those at the head of which are President Juarez and Prince Maximilian, who entertain conflicting views concerning the most expedient and proper mode of restoring peace, order, and civil government in that republic. We do not know what may be the proceedings of those parties in the event of the French evacuation.

Finally, it is impossible for us to foresee what may be the proceedings of the Mexican people in case of the happening of the events before alluded to. For these reasons it is impossible to give you specific directions for the conduct of your proceedings in the discharge of the high trust which the government of the United States has confided to you. Much must be left to your discretion, which is to be exercised according to the view you may take of political movements as [Page 5] they shall disclose themselves in the future. There are, however, some principles which, as we think, may be safely laid down in regard to the policy which the government of the United States will expect you to pursue. The first of these is, that as a representative of the United States you are accredited to the republican government of Mexico, of which Mr. Juarez is President. Your communications as such representative will be made to him whersoever he may be, and in no event will you officially recognize either the Prince Maximilian, who claims to be emperor, or any other person, chief, or combination, as exercising the executive authority in Mexico, without having first reported to this department and received instructions from the President of the United States.

Secondly. Assuming that the French military and naval commanders shall be engaged in good faith in executing the agreement before mentioned for the evacuation of Mexico, the spirit of the engagement on our part in relation to that event will forbid the United States and their representative from obstructing or embarrassing the departure of the French.

Thirdly. What the government of the United States desires in regard to the future of Mexico is not the conquest of Mexico, or any part of it, or the aggrandizement of the United States by purchases of land or dominion, but, on the other hand, they desire to see the people of Mexico relieved from all foreign military intervention, to the end that they may resume the conduct of their own affairs under the existing republican government, or such other frame of government as, being left in the enjoyment of perfect liberty, they shall determine to adopt in the exercise of their own free will, by their own free act, without dictation from any foreign country, and, of course, without dictation from the United States.

It results as a consequence from these principles that you will enter into no stipulation with the French commanders, or with the Prince Maximilian, or with any other party, which shall have a tendency to counteract or oppose the administration of President Juarez, or to hinder or delay the restoration of the authority of the republic. On the other hand, it may possibly happen that the President of the republic of Mexico may desire the good offices of the United States, or even some effective proceedings on our part, to favor and advance the pacification of a country so long distracted by foreign invasion, combined with civil war, and thus gain time for the re-establishment of national authority upon principles consistent with a republican and domestic system of government; it is possible, moreover, that some disposition might be made of the land and naval forces of the United States, without interfering within the jurisdiction of Mexico, or violating the laws of neutrality, which would be useful in favoring the restoration of law, order, and republican government in that country.

You are authorized to confer upon this subject with the republican government of Mexico, and its agents, and also to confer informally, if you find it necessary, with any other parties or agents, should such an exceptional conference become absolutely necessary, but not otherwise. You will by these means obtain information which will be important to this government, and such information you will convey to this department, with your suggestions and advice as to any proceedings on our part which can be adopted in conformity with the principles I have before laid down.

You will be content with thus referring any important propositions on the subject of reorganization and restoration of the republican government in Mexico as may arise, to this department for the information of the President.

The General of the United States possesses already discretionary authority as to the location of the forces of the United States in the vicinity of Mexico. His military experience will enable him to advise you concerning such questions as may arise during the transition stage of Mexico from a military siege by a foreign enemy to a condition of practical self-government. At the same time it will be in his power, being near the scene of action, to issue any orders which [Page 6] may be expedient or necessary for maintaining the obligations resting upon the United States in regard to proceedings upon the borders of Mexico. For these reasons he has been requested and instructed by the President to proceed with you to your destination, and act with you as an adviser recognized by this department in regard to the matters which have herein been discussed. After conferring with him you are at liberty to proceed to the city of Chihuahua, or to such other place in Mexico as may be the residence of President Juarez; or in your discretion you will proceed to any other place in Mexico, not held or occupied at the time of your arrival by enemies of the republic of Mexico, or you will stop at any place in the United States or elsewhere, near the frontier or coast of Mexico, and await there a time to enter any portion of Mexico which shall hereafter be in the occupation of the republican government of Mexico.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Lewis D. Campbell, Esq., &c., &c., &c.