Mr. Clay to Mr. Seward

No. 187.]

Sir: As I had proposed, I now say a word once more in reference to the “eastern question.” As you are no doubt advised from other sources, the understanding between Russia and the western powers in reference to Turkey is becoming more pacific. My opinion was that Russia neither desired nor anticipated war with Turkey; but was strengthening herself with the Christian populations of the south of Europe, as an offset to the discontented Poles of the Roman church. I send you some statistics, from official sources, in regard to the commerce of Russia with Asia— the direction her ambition is really taking. The whole exportation and importation together, between Russia and Asia, in 1866, was 46,573,586 roubles; that is 5,318,859 roubles more than in 1865. The Russian exportation was 21,858,803 roubles, and the imports 24,714,783 roubles, an increase of 3,934,495 roubles in exports, and 1,385,864 roubles in [Page 470] imports over the year 1865. The commerce, from the figures of the last 10 years preceding 1866, shows an aggregate increase of 66 per centum. Thus, while Russia has been carrying on an aggressive or defensive war along the whole border of Asia at times, the commerce with that continent has steadily and is steadily increasing. Thus, while Russia is expanding her domain, she is at the same time enlarging her commerce. The result is civilization of Asia, by putting a part of it under a noble government, and consolidating the power and the peace of the Asiatic nations which remain independent, both of which processes inure to the common benefit of the Asiatic races. The predatory bands, which are ever revolutionary and antagonistic to all development, are subjected to force and law; and the others are checked by fear, and consolidated by the instincts of self-preservation and the power of example. In the mean time Russia carries on the war in central Asia, and colonizes in northern China and the isles of Japan, thus making “points d’appui” for future movements, either political or commercial, with those great centers of population and wealth. All the nations are looking in the same direction, and I therefore call the attention of our government once more to the necessity of our now having some formidable stand-point in the seas bordering on Japan and China, where our armies and navies may rest secure. The mission of Mr. Burlingame may present a favorable opportunity to accomplish so desirable an acquisition.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.