[332] *Mr. John Slidell to Mr. J. P. Benjamin.


Sir: * * * * * * *

I said * * * * that I had asked an interview for the purpose of knowing distinctly what was to be done with the Rappahannock; that she had been detained, without cause assigned, for more than four months; and that I could not obtain a written response to my various [Page 51] communications on that subject. I hoped now to have a verbal one. He said that he had not replied to my communications, because he was not prepared to give a conclusive answer; that he had written the day previous to the president of the senate asking for an early report, and so soon as that should be received he would decide what should be done, and would inform me of his decision. * * *

I have obtained, from a confidential source, a copy of the “dispositif” of the report of the consultative committee in the case of the Rappahannock; it runs thus:

[333] Le comité est d’avis que c’est seulement sous la condition de reduire l’effectif de l’éuipage au nombre des hommes qui étaient sur le navire au jour de la re*lâche, et après l’accomplisseinent de cette condition que le gouvernement de l’Empereur devra lever l’interdiction de prendre la mer qui a été prononcée contre le navire confédéré le Rappahannock.

I annex copy of a letter addressed by me to the Duke de Persigny on the subject of the Rappahannock, written at his suggestion, that he might lay it before the Emperor, which he has done.

Considering it of the greatest importance that we should continue to harass and destroy the commerce of the enemy, I have advised Captain Bullock to use every exertion to put to sea at as early a date as possible several cruisers to supply the place of the Alabama, and, as we cannot rely upon having vessels expressly constructed for the purpose, to make use of the fittest instruments that he can command. In this I had but recommended a purpose that he had anticipated, and which will be carried out, and to which Commodore Barron gives his hearty concurrence. * * *

I have the honor to remain, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. J. P. Benjamin,
Secretary of State.