Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Seward.
Sir : The circulars which have recently been sent respectively by M. de Moustier and Count Bismarck in relation to the political bearing of the interview [Page 589]held between the Emperors of Austria and France at Salzburg have confirmed the opinion which I had already expressed to you, that there is no immediate danger of an interruption of peace. The position taken by Count Bismarck has no novelty, and is but a repetition of his previous utterances. He has never left it in doubt that, in the opinion of Prussia, all the German powers may, if they please, at any time, of their own free choice, form a united country without any regard to the good or ill wishes of foreign powers. No coercion will be applied to the states of South Germany ; but if they see fit to join the Union, they will be received, and such reception will be considered as giving no ground of war or even complaint to neighboring nations. This frank and manly publication of the views of the North German government is, in my judgment, the surest mode to preserve peace both now and for time to come. Nor has France power to intervene in German affairs without the assistance of strong allies. The excitement observable in the French press and among French statesmen is to be attributed to the unpleasant discovery that France has suddenly and most unexpectedly been flanked on the east by an imperial union whose military resources on land, though not on the sea, are equal or superior to its own.
The question respecting Schleswig remains just where it did when I last wrote to you on the subject. All Schleswig is represented in the North German diet, and included in the jurisdiction of Prussia ; nor has Prussia made any offer of retrocession which Denmark shows a willingness to accept.
The measure regulating military service has been reported to the diet and will no doubt become a law. It maintains the system of three years’ service of every Prussian in the regular army, and four years’ liability to service in the reserve without substitution. Yet, notwithstanding this bill, I cherish the hope of arriving at a conclusion with this government on the question of the exaction of military service from Germans naturalized in America.
A navigation law has been proposed in the diet and will no doubt be adopted. It gives North German nationality to any ship owned by North Germans, and so far agrees with the present laws of Great Britain on that subject, but differs from those of the United States.
This government is disposed to enter upon the system of exchanges, marked out by the memorandum of Professor Henry of the Smithsonian Institute, which you commended to attention ; but as yet no definite reply to the proposition has been received at this legation.
The last despatch received from your department is No. 15, of August 28.
I remain, sir, yours, sincerely,
Hon William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.