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.