Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

A Few Letters and Speeches of the Late Civil War by August Belmont (DNC Chairman)

NOVEMBER 2, 1864.

Mr. President And Gentlemen,—I am deeply grateful for this kind and flattering reception, which I feel is more due to the patriotic work in which we are all engaged than to any personal merit of my own. Four years ago I stood on this very place pleading the cause of the Union and the Constitution against the combined efforts of Northern Abolitionists and Southern Secessionists, and advocating the election of the patriot and statesman, the lamented Douglas, against the then obscure candidate of a sectional party. The Democracy was defeated, and our country given up to civil war and desolation, because we had become divided by the selfish machinations of Southern Secessionists, aided by their misguided friends of the North, who broke up the Charleston convention. Permit me to discuss for a few moments the present political position of some of these former champions of Southern rights. I will not speak of the Southern leaders, who, under Jeff. Davis, are waging an unholy war against our government. Grant, Sherman, and Farragut will take care of them. Our business is with their former friends at the North. Here we have, first and foremost, Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, who, at Charleston, gave, during fifty-two ballots, his vote for Jeff. Davis, the only vote cast for him in the convention, and then left that body to sit in council with the Southern traitors. Then we have Daniel S. Dickinson, who denounced the Northern Democracy for not re-admitting, at Baltimore, the seceding delegates who, under the leadership of Yancey, had broken up the convention at Charleston. On our bended knees we ought to have entreated them to return— that was Mr. Dickinson’s advice ; and I am compelled to add here that estimable gentleman, John A. Dix, who, in 1860, advocated in an elaborate address to the convention more ultra Southern views than the Breckenridge platform itself, and who, as postmaster of James Buchanan, was the head and front of the Breckenridge organization in this city. The Abolition papers of this morning contain an address of General Dix of a very different character than the one just alluded to. Without entering here into the merits of that extraordinary document, permit me only to point your attention to the following proposition contained in that address:—

An amendment of the Constitution which shall render the President ineligible after one term of service.”

In the face of this, Mr. Dix and his friends intend to vote for a second term of Mr. Lincoln. The general, after opposing in 1848 the regular Democratic nomination of General Cass, and in 1860 that of Stephen A. Douglas, will now show his consistency by voting for Lincoln in opposition to the principle laid down by himself.

Thus we find these gentlemen in the ranks of the Republican party arrayed under the black banner of Abolitionism against the party of the Union and the Constitution. The allurements of power and office are as irresistible to them under Lincoln as they were under Buchanan. They, and some lesser lights of the same stamp, are now joining with all the zeal of neophytes in the mad outcry raised by their new allies against the Democratic party and its noble leader, George B. McClcllan. In the wake of these more prominent renegades from the Democratic faith, we have seen a call for a mass meeting, signed by a number of disappointed politicians, and a few nabobs of our city, who have added a few more millions to their wealth by this terrible war. Those gentlemen call themselves Democrats—Democrats of the Jacksonian school—and allege as the reason for not supporting our ticket, the wording of our platform and the character of our candidates. Now, permit me to detain you for a few moments in order to see by what right those gentlemen call themselves Democrats, and how much the Chicago platform has had to do with their support of Abraham Lincoln. Here we have in the first instance ex-Judge Pierrepont, who for the last three years has been the confidential friend and agent of Secretary Stanton, the bitter enemy of General McClellan; and it is said by those who profess to know, that this friendship has proved quite lucrative to the honorable ex-judge. Is it to be wondered that he should wish its continuance for four years more? Is it to be wondered that in his speech of last evening, reported in all the Abolition papers, he should assail, in a spirit of the bitterest partisanship, the character and services of General McClellan? His patron of the War Department has for the past two years persecuted with the most malignant hatred the man to whom the country owes the Army of the Potomac,—the general who twice saved the capital from the invading rebel forces, and who offered to share the fate of his comrades as a common soldier, when deprived of his command by the intrigues of Halleck and Stanton. Judge Pierrepont could not show his gratitude for past favors and favors to come more effectually than by his most unfair, personal attack on General McClellan. I had looked for this first public demonstration of the judge with a good deal of curiosity, as I had hoped to obtain by it some explanation in reply to a statement contained in the following article of The World newspaper, which I have not yet seen contradicted :—

” Judge Pierrepont and the Bogus War Democrats.

” The following letter comes to us indorsed by the signature of a gentleman whose name is at the service of Judge Pierrepont, if he desires a voucher for its authenticity. We confess our own surprise at its statements, and, in common with the public, should be glad to know what considerations have worked such a change in Judge Pierrepont’s mind since September.

” Philadelphia, October 25.

To the Editor of the World:—

My attention has been called to a manifesto addressed to ‘ War Democrats, and published in the New York Tribune,—a very singular medium of communication, one would suppose, with Democrats of any shade of opinion. Among the names of the signers to this document I perceive that of ‘Edwards Pierrepont;’ I have a few remarks to make touching him. We chanced to be fellow-passengers in the Persia, Cunard steamship, from Liverpool, in the month of September. We had not, upon our departure on September 10th, as yet learned who was the nominee of the Chicago Convention, and, of course, we were all very much excited upon the subject. There seemed to be but one or two administration men on the ship, out of some 180 or 190 passengers, the Democrats being very generally in favor of General McClellan for the nomination. This Judge Pierrepont, after holding back for some time, finally declared himself a Democrat of the strictest school. He said, however, that there was no earthly chance of the nomination of General McClellan; that the Democratic party would not stultify itself by nominating any man who had any connection with this war: that the war was an utter failure; that the only prospect of the salvation of the nation, or the restoration of the Union, lay in a cessation of hostilities. and a general convention of all the States. He said that none of these purposes could be accomplished without a change of administration, and that, therefore, it was the solemn duty of every patriot to labor for that primary and fundamental object, without which all efforts were fruitless, all hope vain of the salvation of our republican government. He said to me in conclusion : ‘With a change of administration there might yet be a way to save the Republic entire; without it, it was past praying for.’

This was the substance of a conversation of two hours or more, in the presence of my wife, in all of which, as general propositions, I concurred, except that General McClellan could not be nominated. I assured the judge that he could and would, and should be, as he was, above and beyond any living man, the embodiment of the political necessities of the American people. Now, you may imagine my surprise to see the name of this same ‘Edwards Pierrepont’ in four short weeks after the earnest expression of the above-recited views, giving his name, and any influence he may possess, to the prolongation of that very policy, and the support of that identical administration, which he thus publicly declared would insure the downfall of the Republic.


What do you say to these sound principles of a war Democrat of the new school, who cannot support the Chicago platform, and must bolt the regular Democratic nominee to vote for Abraham Lincoln? Then you have the member of Congress from the First District, the Hon. Mr. Stebbins, who has just resigned his seat, because he says that his opinions are no longer in unison with those of his constituents. I doubt very much if there ever existed any such unison between him and them. He was elected two years ago by the loyal Democracy of the First District, who, then, as they are now, were for the “Union at all hazards;” but were not in favor of Mr. Lincoln or the financial policy of his Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Stebbins, for many months after his election, was the avowed advocate of an immediate and unconditional peace, and I could cite here many good Democrats, personal friends of his, who had to use all their influence in order to make him withhold those pernicious views. I believe they succeeded so far as to make him, for a short time at least after he took his seat in Congress, as near to the mark of a sound Democrat as he ever was or ever will be. But we find him soon fascinated by the transcendent statesmanship of Mr. Lincoln’s Secretary of State and the financial genius of Mr. Chase. So much so that his great effort in Congress is a grandiloquent eulogy of the irredeemable paper issue of the Secretary of the Treasury. And the Republican papers of this morning, selected for the first time for the diffusion of Democratic principles, contain a letter of his, in which he lectures the Democratic party for not doing justice to the efficiency and talent of Mr. Lincoln’s cabinet. It will be refreshing to Messrs. Stanton and Welles to read praises from a Democratic pen, which their own party has not been willing to accord to them. Is it strange, after all this, that Mr. Stebbins does not agree in sentiment with his constituents? They seem to have come to that conclusion some time before he did, when they refused to put him in re-nomination for Congress. The Hon. F. B. Cutting can hardly claim that he leaves the Democratic party on account of our platform. Nobody can entertain personally a more sincere regard for that gentleman than I do; still we all know that he has not been with us since 1862, when we did, what we intend to do next Tuesday, elect Horatio Seymour governor of this State. Then you have the eccentric and venerable Mr. Peter Cooper, who appears in the character of a war Democrat, after having voted, in 1856, for Fremont, and in 1860 for Lincoln. Both Mr. Moses Taylor and Mr. A. T. Stewart signed, last spring, a circular in favor of Mr. Lincoln’s re-election, and they probably forgot that circumstance, when they now profess to abandon our banner, because they profess to see lurking in its folds a disgraceful peace, notwithstanding that McClellan and Pendleton have inscribed on it: “The Union and the Constitution at all hazards; peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.” The political antecedents of the other signers of that call are of the same questionable character: there is, for instance, Mr. William H. Webb, a wealthy ship-builder and government contractor, who builds magnificent vessels, for which he receives still more magnificent prices from Mr. Welles, but who has not voted a Democratic ticket for many a year.

But I have already dwelt too long on these proselytes to the Abolition faith. The great Democratic party cannot suffer from the attacks of this or any other set of men. It is the party which, by its unwavering adherence to the Constitution, and by its unflinching firmness and strict regard to treaty stipulations in all our domestic and foreign relations, had brought our country to a greatness and prosperity which had rendered it the admiration and envy of the nations of the earth, until, in an evil hour, the madness of sectional fanaticism placed Abraham Lincoln in the presidential chair. It was a Democratic administration which carried us triumphantly through the Mexican war, giving us the golden empire of the Pacific, soon to become the highway of the commerce of the East. It was a Democratic administration which resisted firmly and successfully British pretensions in Oregon and Central America. It was under a Democratic administration that American influence compelled Denmark to abandon the feudal Sound dues which for centuries she had imposed upon the commerce of the world. It was under a Democratic administration that Kozta was liberated from the claws of Austrian tyranny, proving to the world that our proud flag gave protection to the martyrs of liberty of all nations who sought asylum under its folds. I had the honor to represent our country abroad when Mr. Marcy wrote the Kozta letter, and my heart swelled with pride and gratitude that I could claim the title of an American citizen. How do we stand now, under Mr. Lincoln’s administration, in our relations with the great powers of Europe—how are American rights respected and protected abroad?

We all remember, with shame and indignation, the case of Arguelles, a Spanish refugee, who was seized in this city by the Federal officers, and, without even the form of a trial, given up to the Cuban authorities. We have no extradition treaty with Spain, so that no possible excuse could exist for this arbitrary act of Mr. Seward. Of whatever crime Arguelles may have been accused in Cuba, I doubt whether modern history can point to a grosser outrage against the sacred right of asylum. Place the case of Kozta alongside that of Arguelles, and you obtain an idea of the difference between a Democratic and Republican administration. Had an occurrence like the famous Trent affair taken place when a Marcy or a Cass was at the head of the State department, those prisoners would have been surrendered at once, and by our free action, sent to England before they were claimed, if their capture was illegal; but if they were lawfully taken, the whole power of France and England could not have obtained their release from those Democratic statesmen, and the American people would have sustained them, if every city on our sea-board had been laid in ashes by the combined fleets of those great powers. Look at our commerce, the sails of which, four years ago, whitened every sea of both hemispheres—our commercial flag chased from the ocean by a few paltry privateers of the Confederates, who, if we had a competent Secretary of the Navy, should long ere this not have had a single port either on the Atlantic or the Gulf. Can anybody doubt that, with an efficient navy under such men as Farragut, Dupont, Rogers, and Porter, we could have taken Charleston, Mobile, Savannah, and Wilmington within six months after the war began. But Mr. Welles, notwithstanding the immense resources placed at his disposal, gave to the rebels all the time they could possibly desire to make those ports the strongholds they now are.

The fact is, the present administration did not know how to preserve peace, nor does it know how to conquer it, notwithstanding the many victories gained on land and sea by our gallant navy and army. We have been told over and over again that the rebellion was on its last legs, that the people of the South are tired of the war, that their armies are demoralized and on the point of dispersing. Are we, for all this, any nearer to an honorable peace within the Union than we were three years ago? Has the administration tried to profit by the blood-stained laurels of McClellan, after the battle of Antietam; of Grant, when he took Vicksburg; of Farragut, when he took New Orleans, and placed Mobile at our mercy; of Sherman’s glorious capture of Atlanta; of Meade’s overwhelming victory at Gettysburg? No attempt at negotiation, no proffer of an honorable settlement which (even if under the military terrorism of Jeff. Davis it should not have led to immediate peace) would, at least, have strengthened the Union party at the South, and given them power, with the aid of the strong arm of the Federal forces, to free themselves of their tyrannical leaders.

And this, gentlemen, is the only way in which we can ever hope to restore the Union, and bring peace and prosperity to our common country. Give to the South the choice of an honorable peace under the Union and the Constitution, or a fruitless struggle against the irresistible power of a united North, and you will see State after State leave the confederacy of Jefferson Davis, and return to their allegiance under the Union. But who can doubt that the South will fight to the last extremity if the fatal policy of confiscation and forcible emancipation is to be persisted in, and that is the policy to which Mr. Lincoln and his party are pledged, should they be able to keep themselves in power.

Thus the war is to become a war of subjugation or extermination—and do you know what it means to conquer and subjugate a nation of six millions of freemen? It took the ablest generals of republican France more than ten years before they could subjugate the small department of the Vendee, which was only finally pacified by the great Napoleon himself. The whole power of Russia, with its colossal military despotism, was nearly half a century before conquering the small province of Circassia. Poland and Hungary were not subjugated by the sword of Russia and Austria alone, but tardy concessions had to assist in their pacification.

Look at what we have achieved ourselves in three and a half years, with a sacrifice of nearly four hundred thousand men and the accumulation of a national debt of $2,000,000,000. Our army and navy have earned immortal glory and the lasting gratitude of their countrymen by their devotion and heroism, and yet, though we hold the Mississippi and several important points on the Atlantic and the Gulf, we are far from having the conquest of the South within our grasp. Grant, whose bravery is only equalled by his stubborn tenacity, has, with the largest and best army ever placed under one man on this continent, and with the power and resources of a patriotic people to back him, not yet taken Richmond, after six months, and the sacrifice of over one hundred thousand of our best troops.

Can any one, after all these heart-rending experiences, have any doubts as to the fearful calamities in store for us, if Mr. Lincoln should succeed in having himself re-elected—a war to the knife between the two sections, until the weaker is exterminated, and the other left in the agonies of exhaustion; a whole generation swept away; a national debt accumulated, such as few nations have ever been burdened with, and entailing the disgrace and miseries of national bankruptcy, or else, for generations to come, a load of taxation which must undermine our labor and industry, and reduce our laboring classes to poverty and pauperism.

In the face of all these evidences, clear as the light of day to every mind which is not blinded by corruption or fanaticism, the Democratic party, as well as its candidates, are denounced by an unscrupulous party press as disloyal, and as the open allies of the rebels, because we expect to conquer an honorable peace within the Union and the Constitution, instead of following the mad career to ruin under the lead of sectional fanatics. While the Democratic generals are fighting our battles, while Grant, Meade, and Hancock are pushing on toward Richmond, and while the gallant Sherman is driving Beauregard before him, and the dashing Sheridan is gathering fresh laurels, we see some Republican generals of Mr. Lincoln try their prowess on a more peaceful field of battle. Hooker, when last heard from, was operating in Illinois, in the new character of a stump-speaker; General Burnside is busy here making speeches in favor of Lincoln and abolition, both undoubtedly hoping for a better result in November than they were able to achieve at Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. Thus the Democratic party and its leaders stand where they have always stood—”for the Union, the Constitution, and the law”—alike opposed to Southern Secessionists and Northern fanaticism.

A leading journal in this city, which has maintained in this presidential contest a strict neutrality—a neutrality in which, I am sorry to say, my humble self does not appear to have been included—has found fault with our party for not having declared in favor of a more vigorous foreign policy, and the re-affirmation of the Monroe doctrine. I need not tell you, my Democratic fellow-citizens, that the Democratic party does not undertake more than one great task at a time. Let us first restore the Union and the Constitution, and then we will settle our other accounts. General McClellan has pledged himself and the party “for the Union at all hazards.” Our candidate for the Vice-Presidency has declared for the restoration of the Union and the Constitution, “peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must.” On that platform we intend to elect them, and redeem their pledges to the American people and the world, and when once again we shall, by the blessing of the Almighty, be a reunited and powerful people of freemen, then the Democracy of this mighty Union will say to the powers of the earth, that the North American continent was intended for Republican- institutions, and that the temple of liberty raised by the fathers of the Republic must span its dome from ocean to ocean and from the lakes to the isthmus.

And now, gentlemen, let me entreat you, in conclusion, to use every honorable means within your power in order to accomplish the great work before us. In six days from now the life or death of this great Republic will be decided. Let the Empire City be, as ever, true to the Union and the Constitution; let us roll up a majority of forty thousand for McClellan and Pendleton, that the sun of the 8th of November may, under a benignant Providence, set upon a free and redeemed people, and a new era of greatness and prosperity follow the dark days through which we are now passing.

SEPTEMBER 17, 1864.

Fellow Citizens,—I thank you for the honor which you confer upon me. This enthusiastic uprising of the Democracy of the Empire City, for the purpose of ratifying the nomination of General McClellan and George H. Pendleton for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States, is a sure indication of what New York intends to do on the 8th of November next. While at Chicago as a delegate from our State, I pledged New York City to roll up a majority of 50,000 for our candidates. I am now sure that I did not promise too much, and that you will redeem my pledge. We are engaged in a great and noble contest. It is not only the election of a favored candidate, but it is the salvation of the Republic, the restoration of the Union. and the vindication of the Constitution and the laws, which will be the fruits of our victory.

Four years ago, when I had the honor to preside at the last Democratic meeting held before the presidential election, I predicted that Mr. Lincoln’s election would be the forerunner of a dissolution of the Union amidst war and bloodshed. How terribly have events verified my fears. The issue before the American people is just as grave and momentous now as it was then. The electors throughout the loyal States will have to choose between war and disunion, which must be the inevitable results of Mr. Lincoln’s re-election, or an early, honorable, and lasting peace, based upon the Union and the Constitution, which can only be secured under the conservative, Democratic, and national administration of General McClellan.

Our candidate pledges himself and his administration to such a result in his admirable letter of acceptance, and he has proved to the American people that he knows how to keep his promises. Two years ago to-day he redeemed his pledge to save Washington and the Northern States from the victorious army of Lee, on the bloody battle-field of Antietam. Hardly a week before, the hero of the Peninsula, the man who had created the Army of the Potomac, the general under whose wise and far-seeing combinations Roanoke, Fort Donelson, and New Orleans fell into our hands, had been left without the command of a single man, and had offered to his enemies in power to share the fate of his comrades as a common soldier in the defence of our Union. It was only when Lee’s forces thundered at the gates of Washington, that Lincoln, Stanton, and Halleck, that glorious trio of military science and genius, called upon the man whom they had so disgracefully treated to save them. The capital they were willing to give up; but McClellan knew the cost of the loss of Washington; once in the hands of the rebels, an immediate recognition of the Richmond usurper by the foreign governments, and the inevitable independence of the South.

He took command of a beaten, discouraged, and shattered army; his heroic followers knew their leader, and within three weeks from the day that he assumed command, the remnant of Lee’s beaten army had to seek safety in flight. And how was McClellan rewarded for this brilliant campaign? By being again deprived of his command, in the most unjustifiable and arbitrary manner, and by a system of persecution from that day forward, of which history shows hardly a more disgraceful example. It was my good fortune to see General McClellan shortly after his last campaign, and when I expressed to him my astonishment that he consented again to take command with Halleck and Stanton in the War Department, after the shameful manner with which they had ruined his plans in the Peninsula, he replied to me : “I knew to what I was exposing myself, but the country was in danger, and I had no right to make conditions.” And this is the man who, for two years past, has been traduced and vilified by every Republican paper throughout the land, and who has been represented to the American people as disloyal to the Union and the Constitution, and sympathizing with the rebels of the South!

We are told that the Democratic party is the party of disunion, and that we are the friends of Jefferson Davis and his rebel government. Hundreds of thousands of brave Democrats who have bled on the field of battle for the sacred cause of the Union and the Constitution have not been sufficient to silence this foul calumny!

But what do the Southern Secessionists say of the Northern friends whom Seward and Greeley persist in attaching to their interest? Ever since the nomination of McClellan, the organs of Jeff. Davis throughout the South, are loud and earnest in their denunciations of his election. They see in it a sure forerunner of a division at the South, which must pave the way to a speedy return of the revolted States to their allegiance to the Union, and they dread the name of McClellan as our banner-bearer more than they do that of Grant and his army. The Richmond Enquirer of the 6th instant, after reviewing the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties, concludes by saying: “Thus, whether we look at this nomination in the light of peace or of war, we prefer Lincoln to McClellan, for we can make better terms of peace with an anti-slavery fanatic than with an earnest Unionist. Our best hope is from the honest fanatics of the North; such men, when they see their people are tired of the war, will end it by peace that sacrifices territory to freedom, and will let the South go, provided she carries slavery with her.”

Yes, gentlemen, the election of General McClellan will be a more severe blow to Jefferson Davis than the fall of Richmond. Let every one, therefore, aid in the great and good work before us. We have fearful odds to overcome. The Secessionists of the South and the fanatical disorganizes of the North are both arrayed against us; but with the Union, the Constitution, and the laws inscribed on our banner, and McClellan as our leader, the victory must be ours.

AUGUST 29, 1864.

Gentlemen Of The Convention,—We are assembled here to-day as the National Democratic Convention, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States. This task, at all times a most important and arduous one, has, by the sad events of our civil war, assumed an importance and responsibility of the most fearful nature. Never, since the formation of our government, has there been an assemblage, the proceedings of which were fraught with more momentous and vital results than those which must flow from your action.

Toward you, gentlemen, are directed at this moment the anxious fears and doubts, not only of millions of American citizens, but also of every lover of civil liberty throughout the world. In your hands rests, under the ruling of an all-wise Providence, the future of this Republic. Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical, and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr. Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity. The inevitable results of such a calamity must be the utter disintegration of our whole political and social system amidst bloodshed and anarchy, with the great problems of liberal progress and self-government jeoparded for generations to come.

The American people have at last awakened to the conviction that a change of policy and administration can alone stay our downward course; and they will rush to the support of your candidate and platform, provided you will offer to their suffrage a tried patriot, who has proved his devotion to the Union and the Constitution, and provided that you pledge him and yourselves to maintain that hallowed inheritance by every effort and sacrifice in your power.

Let us, at the very outset of our proceedings, bear in mind that the dissensions of the last Democratic Convention were one of the principal causes which gave the reins of government into the hands of our opponents; and let us beware not to fall again into the same fatal error. We must bring to the altar of our country the sacrifice of our prejudices, opinions, and convictions—however dear and long cherished they may be—from the moment they threaten the harmony and unity of action so indispensable to our success. We are here, not as war Democrats, nor as peace Democrats, but as citizens of the great Republic, which we will strive to bring back to its former greatness and prosperity, without one single star taken from the brilliant constellation that once encircled its youthful brow. Let pure and disinterested patriotism, tempered by moderation and forbearance, preside over our deliberations, and, under the blessings of the Almighty, the sacred cause of the Union, the Constitution, and the Laws must prevail against fanaticism and treason.

Washington, D. C.

Paris, November 29, 1863.

My Dear Sir,—My departure for Europe was so sudden, and my contemplated stay here so short, that I hardly thought it worth while to apprise you of my voyage to London and Paris, and to offer you my services in both places.

During the four days that I remained in London I have, however, had opportunities to meet and converse with several members of the ministry and leading men in Parliament. The general tone of all these gentlemen was much more friendly to the cause and position of our government than I had anticipated. From all I could gather, there is certainly no danger that England will join France in any movement toward recognition of the South.

The ministers seem fully aware of the mistake they committed in allowing the Alabama to proceed to sea, and they are determined, at all hazards, to stop the sailing of the iron-clads. Laird has put in a plea, first, that they were destined for a French house, and then that they were for the Pasha of Egypt—the government has proofs in hand that both these statements are false.

Lord Russell will probably ask for more ample powers from Parliament immediately after its meeting, to enable him to stop these vessels and enforce a strict observance of neutrality by British subjects. Both he and Mr. Villiers, brother of Lord Clarendon, and one of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, have expressed themselves in very flattering terms with regard to Mr. Evarts, whose mission, they said, was very beneficial and useful, as he gave them very valuable information about many points bearing upon our neutrality laws. Your friend and agent has evidently left a very good impression in the government circles.

I am informed by people who are apt to know, that, with the exception of Gladstone and Palmerston, the members of the cabinet are all in favor of the North. Still, we must not shut our eyes to the fact that the taking of Vicksburg, and our successes last summer, have a good deal to do with this attitude of the British cabinet, and that any serious reverses of our armies in Virginia or Tennessee would be followed by a strong pressure on the ministry for recognition, not only by the opposition at home, but also by France.

There is one point in connection with this which I wish to recommend to your earnest consideration. The sensitiveness on the part of Englishmen of all ranks, with reference to every thing which is said, done, and written in America, is most extraordinary, and the attacks in our papers against the British government have not only the effect to estrange the good-will of our friends, but also to strengthen the hands of the opposition. Even the small matter of the discussion in regard to our inviting the French and English officers to the banquet lately given in New York to the Russians, had ruffled the temper of every Englishman I came in contact with.

To give you an instance of the interest with which every information from America is received, I will only mention to you that upon the arrival of Sir Henry Holland, about ten days ago, Lord Palmerston immediately sent him a telegraphic dispatch inviting him to Broadlands, and within an hour afterward he received a similar invitation to Pembroke Lodge, from Earl Russell. I am told that Sir Henry speaks in the kindest terms of the reception he received, and that he is very much pleased with his interview with you and the President. My object in mentioning to you these details is to suggest to you how far it might appear practicable and advisable to you to exert the influence of the government with our leading papers to adopt a more conciliatory tone toward England—this I should think you could easily accomplish with such papers as the New York Times and other organs of the Republican party.

The London Times continues its bitter vituperations against us, but it does not represent its government and its party, and the best way to neutralize its pernicious influence is not to notice its attacks.

I have not been in Paris long enough to form a correct opinion of what is going on here, still, thus far all confirms me in the impression which I had formed during my last residence here, viz., that the French Emperor is the principal person from whom danger to us is to be apprehended. Luckily, it seems as if he was to have his hands full in Europe. The Polish question has assumed a very threatening aspect, and I don’t see how it can be solved without a war. Thus far the British government seems determined not to join France in a war, but the English people are all very strongly in favor of Poland, and public opinion may force the Palmerston ministry as it did, seven years ago, that of Lord Aberdeen. Apart from the Polish cloud, the Emperor finds his policy in Mexico to become daily less popular with the French people, and I have no doubt but what he has already, ere this, very much modified his brilliant aspirations of French trans-atlantic power. Added to this is the deficit in the budget, which will make a resort to a new loan more than probable, a measure not at all desirable in the present state of the money market and the low prices of the “Rentes.” Nearly all the governments on the Continent are likely to want money very soon, and so a general uneasiness pervades financial circles. With such a state of things there is not much danger that Napoleon will think of interfering with us. The government has stopped the further construction of the four war vessels which were being built in French ports for the Confederates.

Notwithstanding all this the Secessionists here, and their number is legion, are very confident of an early recognition and assistance on the part of France. It is said that their Vice-President, Stephens, is expected here, when he will make the most liberal offers for recognition and alliance. He will even, it is expected, go so far as to agree to a gradual emancipation of slavery, on the part of the Richmond authorities. It is impossible to trace these rumors to any trustworthy source, but it is certain that the rebel agents here are as active as they are numerous and unscrupulous.

Washington, D. C.

Newport, July 20, 1863.

My Dear Sir,—My last letters from England are not quite as favorable in regard to the attitude of the British cabinet on the question of joining France in the recognition of the Southern Confederacy, as all my previous advices have been hitherto.

My advices from well-informed friends had, until now, invariably most emphatically contradicted the many rumors of recognition and joint action by the French and English governments, set afloat for the last eighteen months by the Southern sympathizers.

The Palmerston ministry was, until now, a unit in its opposition to any departure from the strict neutrality observed since the beginning (if not in feeling, at least in official words and acts). It seems, however, now, that under the pressure of the press and a powerful opposition, and by the manœuvres of French diplomacy, but more than all, probably, under the influences of our reverses under Hooker, a minority in the ministry has changed its views, and has become favorable to an immediate recognition of the South, conjointly with France. At the last dates this was only a minority in the cabinet, but as for at least twelve days after the news from this side will continue most unfavorable to the Union cause, I fear that other members of the cabinet may change front, and that the British government may commit itself to some hasty action, from which it would be difficult to recede. There is no doubt but what all the late Southern movements have been principally directed toward the accomplishment of foreign recognition, soon to be followed by foreign aid. The mission of Stephens was planned and based upon the hopes of success on the part of Lee, and I have very little doubt but what the riots in New York were instigated by rebel agents, and were to serve as a prominent part of the schemes by which the utter hopelessness of a further struggle on the part of the North was to be made manifest to the world.

These schemes have been foiled by the bravery of our army, but it strikes me that our government might profit by the present moment in order to avoid forever hereafter the danger of foreign interference, which, with the known tendencies and sympathies of Napoleon, will always remain a strong incentive to the South for further resistance.

I think that the best and most statesmanlike step to be taken by the President at this juncture, when unprecedented successes have crowned our arms, would be issuing a proclamation addressed to the people of the revolted States, inviting them to return to their allegiance to the United States, to withdraw their citizens from the army of the so-called Confederacy, and to elect members to the Congress of the United States.

Washington, D. C.

Newport, R. I., July 6, 1863.

My Dear Sir,—Allow me to congratulate you on the success of our brave army and navy under its new leader. I hope and pray this may be the forerunner of a series of decisive Union victories, and that we may at last see the end of this unholy rebellion.

If the President were now, at this moment, when the whole North is electrified by our victory, to make a call upon the loyal States for three hundred thousand volunteers for the duration of the war, to be partially sent to the army, and partially to camps of instruction, his call would be promptly and eagerly responded to. Besides that, he ought to call upon the militia of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey to man the forts around Washington with forty to fifty thousand men, which would enable the thirty thousand men, veteran troops, under Heintzelman, to swell the Potomac army, and assist in finishing up Lee’s army.

Our army under Dix and Keyes ought at once to be re-enforced by fifty thousand men at least, and then the capture, not only of Richmond, but of the rebel army in Virginia, could be made secure.

The same number,of men ought to be sent to New Orleans, and, if possible, three or four of our iron-clads, who are wasting their time before Charleston, a point only important for prestige, or to gratify a just resentment, while the Mississippi is the keystone of the whole rebel fabric.

Bank’s position is not at all what it ought to be, and if Vicksburg does not fall very soon, we stand a fair chance of losing New Orleans, or having to destroy the city, which would be as bad.

I have no doubt but what the administration is keenly alive to the vital importance of quick and energetic action, but I thought I might venture to make you the above suggestions.

If we miss this time for a final death-blow to the hideous monster, we may never again have another chance.

Washington, D. C.

New York, May 18, 1863.

My Dear Sir,—I received this morning a letter from Baron Rothschild, M. P. for the city of London, to whom I had given a letter of introduction in favor of Mr. Evarts. He writes me :—

” I thank you for your information about the mission of Mr. W. M. Evarts, and shall be very glad to see him and to introduce him to some of the leading men of our government and Parliament.

” This mission seems to show a desire to preserve friendly relations with us, and nothing will contribute more to accomplish this object than for it to be known that a sincere feeling of the kind exists.”

I take the liberty of communicating this extract to you, supposing that it will interest you. Baron Rothschild, who is on very intimate terms with Lord Russell and the prominent members of the British cabinet, has for some time past given me repeated assurances of the earnest desire of the English ministry to maintain friendly relations with us, and to prevent, as far as it could do, any violation of neutrality on the part of British subjects.

Montague House, London.

New York, May 7, 1863.

My Dear General,—We returned from Havana a few weeks ago, when I found your very kind letter. I am delighted to hear that you and yours continue to enjoy excellent health, and that you have passed a very pleasant winter in your family circle, notwithstanding that general society in Nice had not been on the same agreeable and cordial footing as the winter before. One hardly ever finds the same social resources two consecutive seasons at a small place of resort, and then the impetuous “Prefette” was sure, sooner or later, to conjure up a storm. She has entirely too much electricity to allow continued sunshine around her.


While I am morally convinced that our government, as well as the vast majority of our people look upon a war with England as a fearful calamity, I must confess that the events of the last few months, and the tone of your leading papers, have filled me with the most gloomy apprehensions for the future.

The fitting out of armed war vessels, like the Alabama, Florida, and Virginia, in your ports, in open violation of the Queen’s proclamation and the foreign enlistment act, have produced a most painful feeling here, and I am afraid that it will require the greatest moderation and the most cordial understanding between the two governments to prevent complications of the gravest nature. I know that Mr. Lincoln, as well as his Secretary of State, are very desirous to maintain the most friendly relations with England, and I trust that they will be met by your ministers in the same spirit.

Ten days ago an intimate friend of Mr. Seward, and one of our most prominent and respected members of the bar, Mr. Evarts, went out to England on a semi-official mission from our government. He is to assist Mr. Adams in his endeavors to come to a more definite and friendly understanding about the fitting out of privateers and other knotty questions, and I have the best hopes of his mission. I know him to be a very intelligent, upright, and well-disposed man.

I have taken the liberty of giving him a letter of introduction to you, being sure that you will gladly contribute, by your influence, to aid the good cause of peace and good-will between two kindred nations.

Mr. Evarts is an extremely well-informed man, and I am sure that you will derive pleasure and much valuable information in regard to our affairs from his acquaintance. You will oblige me, personally, very much, by extending that kindness and urbanity to him which I have received at your hands and which I value so much.

The newspapers give you detailed accounts of our present military position. I can safely say that our cause in the Southwest looks more favorable and hopeful than it has for many days past.

The successes of General Banks in Louisiana have placed the most fertile part of that State under Federal control. I have every reason to hope that we shall soon hold the Mississippi and compel the Confederates to evacuate Vicksburg.

The hopes of the whole nation are at this moment centred upon the army under Hooker, who has crossed the Rappahannock with his entire force, and is probably at this moment engaged in battle with the enemy. He has one hundred and forty thousand men under him, his army is in excellent condition, and his friends are very sanguine of success. God grant that these expectations may be realized.

In the stress in which the rebels are for food and all the necessaries of life, a signal defeat of their main army may bring us to an end of the war, by the re-establishment of the Federal authority over the old Union. On the other hand, a defeat of our army will only prolong the strife. The people of the North have never been so determined as they are now to carry on the war until the integrity of the government is re-established.

In this regard a most decided change has taken place, even among the ultra opponents of the administration. The men who were willing to purchase peace even at the surrender of our nationality, and whose number and influence were increasing last autumn and winter by the mismanagement of the Washington cabinet, have been entirely put in the background.

The North is at this moment more unanimous in support of the government and the war than it has been at any time since the beginning of this unfortunate struggle. Of this there can be no doubt, and I see in it the undeniable certainty that the war will never end except by the rebellion being crushed.

An evidence that the people have the utmost confidence in such an ultimate result, is in the eagerness with which, for the last two months, the people of all classes have invested their money in the securities of the government. The subscriptions to the Federal loan average over three million of dollars a day.

The North is united and prosperous, while at the South they are not only in sad want of the elements of life, but serious misunderstandings have broken out between the Richmond authorities and some of the States, particularly the State of Georgia, the most powerful and influential of the Confederacy. The latter opposes the conscription act, and refuses to guarantee the bonds of the Confederacy, notwithstanding a resolution of the Confederate Congress to that effect.

We found Havana very hot and unpleasant. The people do not know what comfort and cleanliness mean, and an Italian albergo is a palace in comparison with their best hotels. We went to some of the plantations of the wealthiest nabobs of the island, and it is really difficult to believe, that within five days’ sail from New York, people of wealth and education should live in such a state of semi-barbarism as I have seen there.

All this is the direct consequence of slavery, which exists on the Spanish sugar plantations in the most revolting form. It is exercised with the most inhuman cruelty on the poor black, and degenerates the white both morally and physically.

I found the Cuban planters generally in favor of the South, because they openly avowed that they saw in the success of the North the end of slavery in the United States, and that they would also be compelled to set their negroes free. You see, thus, that the aid and sympathy which the rebellion receives by a portion of your people, can only be construed into a direct assistance to uphold and perpetuate a most inhuman and degrading institution.

I was very sorry to see the British Vice-Consul, Mr. Crawford, not only an open, uncompromising, and bitter Secessionist, but also to find him engaged in transactions directly opposed to the Queen’s proclamation of neutrality, and entirely incompatible with the dignity of his office. It was generally known in Havana that he was openly engaged in running the blockade, and using his office to assist Confederate vessels to evade our cruisers under the British flag, etc., etc. It was under his auspices that, during my stay in Havana, the captain of the British war-steamer, the Immortality, a Mr. Hancock, sent the band of his ship to play at a party given by the Southern commissioner, Mr. Helm. The Cubans themselves were astonished to see a British officer allow his band to play rebel airs under the rebel flag, and expressed their opinion pretty freely at so questionable a proceeding. How far all these acts are reconcilable with the professions of strict neutrality I must leave to others to explain, but no fair-minded man can be astonished that they should excite bitterness and mortification.


New York, April 14, 1863.

Dear Baron,—I have read with great interest the admirable speech of Lord Russell, which you sent me by your letter of 24th ult. The policy of neutrality and non-intervention is certainly now the only true and just one. I hope that your government will not only continue to proclaim it, but will also prevent more effectually than heretofore, its violations by its subjects and its officials.

Lord Russell’s speech would have had an excellent effect here, but unfortunately the same steamer brought out the speeches of Lord Palmerston and the Solicitor-General, of the 27th ult., which breathe such an unkind and unfriendly spirit against the American people, that they will more than counterbalance the fair and honorable language of your Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lord Palmerston’s speech, particularly, is a most extraordinary exhibition, and contains principles and assertions which it will be impossible even for that distinguished statesman to sustain. He says that the British cabinet could not act against the Alabama upon the mere complaint and statement of Mr. Adams, and that unless evidence under oath was produced by the latter, the authorities would not have been justified in retaining her.

How could Mr. Adams furnish evidence, which it was the duty of the Crown officials to procure, through their police and courts of justice, after their attention had been called to the intended violation of the law of the land ?

When, in 1855, the British Consul gave notice here, to our government, that the bark Maury, owned by one of our most respectable houses, was being fitted out as a privateer to cruise under the Russian flag, she was, on that mere suspicion, at once libelled by the United States authorities, and was not released until it was satisfactorily proved that she was not intended for such a purpose. This was done at a time when the English government had numerous contracts in this country for the manufacture of Enfield rifles, and when our vessels were carrying troops and ammunition from English and French ports to the Crimea.

The selling of arms and the running of blockade by individuals is certainly a very different thing from the fitting out of ships of war and privateers, and while we can only regret the first, and take our measures against them, we have certainly a right to expect that a friendly power will protect us against the other.

The Alabama has been fitted out in an English port to prey upon our commerce, she forfeited her bond, or, in other words, the builders evaded the law by sacrificing their bail. Does this change the offence? Only three months ago the British Consul has asserted in my presence that the Alabama, having forfeited her bail, would be seized in any English port she should enter, and I naturally inferred from this that orders to that effect had gone to the different stations. Yet she has, since that time, been received, provisioned, and feted in Kingston, and, for all I know, other ports of the British West Indies! She is now preying upon our commerce, and is recognized by your officials as a Confederate war vessel, though she has never as yet entered a Confederate port, and though the greater portion, if not all of her crew, are English subjects and foreigners.

How does the case and the attitude of the British government compare with the conduct of George Washington, immediately after the peace of the Revolutionary war.

The French republic, counting upon the sympathy of a young nation, the liberty of which they had just assisted to conquer, sent agents out here for the fitting out of privateers to prey upon British commerce. Washington not only took at once the most energetic steps against the violation of our neutrality, and seized the vessels in port, but he also indemnified British subjects for the losses sustained by the few privateers which had managed to escape. It is really inconceivable to see your leading statesmen make an assertion like the one made in the same speech by Lord Palmerston, viz., that British subjects had been seized and compelled to serve in this war against their will. It must be known to every child that such could not be the case, as no conscription has as yet taken place at the North, and it is further well known to the British Minister that it was only in the Southern States that Englishmen had been impressed into the service.

Lord Palmerston, as the head of the British cabinet, evinces in his speech a feeling of unfriendliness which will go far to bring about the most deplorable consequences, because I can assure you, that if your government is determined to allow the delivery and sailing of the war vessels destined for the Confederates, there will be reprisals, and I fear war. Our government does not wish it, and a member of the cabinet made a very strong speech here, on Saturday, against a war with England, but the irritation produced by the action of your officials has gained even the more influential and moderate leading men. Lord Russell says, at the conclusion of his speech, that he hopes England will never interfere except “in the cause of liberty, and to promote the freedom of mankind.” It would be well if England had acted upon this doctrine in the present contest. She would have secured forever the abolition of slavery throughout the world, while now she is assisting in riveting the fetters of the poor African for another century.

While in Cuba, I found all the Creole planters in favor of the South, and they based their partiality on the ground that, if the North succeed, slavery would be abolished in the United States, and then, of course, thev would be compelled to emancipate their slaves also.

Let your statesmen and Southern sympathizers go to Cuba and see the fearful barbarity and misery of slavery there, and I fear they would find it more difficult to satisfy their conscience as easily as they seem to do their constituents for the course they have pursued toward our people in our hour of trouble.

I am glad to hear from you, that you have not taken any interest in the Confederate loan. It is a most reckless speculation, and I do not believe that the first dollar will ever be paid on it. The letter in the London Times, denying that Jefferson Davis was a leading advocate of repudiation in his State of Mississippi, is the most barefaced falsehood imaginable. Jeff. Davis ran for State Senator, for Governor, and for United States Senator, upon the distinct issue of repudiating the bonds of the State of Mississippi, issued to the banks, and sold by them to the United States Bank.

These gentlemen are bold and unscrupulous in their assertions to the British public, because they know that they are preaching to willing ears.

Only a few months ago Yancey, one of their Commissioners, declared at a public dinner in London, that he was opposed to the African Slave Trade. Well, in 1856 he made one of his most powerful speeches, at a Southern Convention, in favor of that nefarious traffic, and appealing to the passions of his people, avowed already then, that the refusal of the Federal government to repeal the law of 1808 against the slave trade, was in itself a sufficient ground for the South to separate from the Union.

I am very much afraid that public opinion is so much roused against us that nothing will change the action of your government and people. On the other hand, demagogues will do their utmost to increase the irritation produced by the direct aid given by England and the English to the rebels.

The consequences which must arise from such a state of things can only be averted by great moderation and a cordial interchange of views on the part of the two governments.


New York, April 3, 1863.

My Dear Baron,—During my visit to Cuba I was very sorry to see the open aid and sympathy shown by the British Vice-Consul and other officials of Her Majesty at Havana to the rebel cause.

Young Crawford, who acts as Vice-Consul during the absence of his father, the British Consul-General, expresses himself not only at all times openly in favor of the rebels, but he is known to be himself actively engaged in carrying on a contraband trade with the South, and is said to have made a good deal of money by running the blockade.

Nearly all the vessels which run between Havana and the blockaded ports, are flying the English colors when they enter port, though being mostly small fishing smacks and schooners, they are undoubtedly owned at the South.

It is known that Crawford uses his official position to place these vessels under the British flag.

While I was at Havana, Mr. Helm, the Southern agent and commissioner, though in no official manner recognized by the Spanish government, gave a ball, and the captain of the British war steamer Immortality, Mr. Hancock, did not only attend with his whole staff, but he also sent his military band, which played during the whole evening. The room was decorated with the Confederate flag, and the musical performances, by a band of a British man-of-war, wearing Her Majesty’s uniform, began by the rebel air of Dixie.

There was hardly anybody present except Southerners, the officers of the Immortality, and the British Vice-Consul, with some of his friends, the Cubans not dancing during Lent.

Apart from the questionable taste of such proceedings, there cannot be any doubt of their being in direct violation of the Queen’s proclamation of neutrality.

They are not at all in accordance with the position assumed during this struggle by Her Majesty’s government, and must meet with the disapproval of your ministry.

I hope you may have an opportunity to direct the attention of Lord Palmerston or Russell, to these facts, for the veracity of which I can vouch. They are calculated to produce a very bitter feeling among our people, while I am sure that the best interests of both governments call for a mutually kind and friendly policy, so ardently desired by all well-thinking men on both sides of the Atlantic.

We have nothing new in a military point of view, but it is generally believed that the attack on Charleston is near at hand, and it is hoped that it will be successful.

I find, on my return, a feeling for a vigorous prosecution of the war stronger than ever, and a complete unanimity of feeling against foreign intervention and any peace except upon the basis of a reconstruction of the Union.

The violent language of Jefferson Davis and his organs has produced quite a reaction at the North, and has silenced entirely the few peace-at-any-price men, who had sprung up after the elections of last November.