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The tone of the public mind is generally pure, and the confidence of the country in our financial system is perhaps the best possible evidence of the confidence of the people in the ultimate success of the government.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
THOMAS CORWIN, Esq., &c., &c., Mexico.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Corwin.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: Your very important despatch of the 26th of June has been received. It confirms the information, otherwise received, that the French army has entered and occupied the capital of Mexico, and that a provisional government has been inaugurated there, under the protection of the imperial forces; that the Mexican government, to which you were accredited, has retired to the city of San Luis Potosi, and established itself at that place; and that the country is now divided between two governments, which still remain in hostile attitude. The President is inclined to approve the decision you made in declining, under the circumstances, the invitation of the Mexican government to leave the ancient capital and to repair to San Luis.
What would be the most convenient and favorable position for the legation, with reference to the protection of American rights in Mexico, is a question that depends much on contingencies of war, which, though they may be imminent, cannot, at least at this distance from the theatre of conflict, be anticipated. It is not perceived how you could effectually assert those interests at the present moment by representations to the government at San Luis, which is cut off from communication with the legation, while, on the other hand, you will not be expected to address yourself, under present circumstances, to the new provisional government which bears sway at the capital.
The President fully appreciates the great and unwearied labors you have performed in your mission, and the circumstances which render a temporary relief from them desirable on your part. He has thought that probably the present juncture, when things in regard to the future of Mexico are depending on dispositions and events there, with which a minister of a foreign and friendly power cannot lawfully interfere, may, perhaps, be the most suitable one for the allowance of the indulgence which you have asked. But he desires to leave this point to your own better-informed discretion. You will, therefore, have leave of absence, to begin at such time as you may think proper after this communication reaches you, and may return to the United States to confer with this department, and to await the further directions of the President. You will make such arrangements for the custody of the archives, and the transaction of the mere routine duties of the legation during your absence, as shall seem expedient.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
SIR: Your despatch of October 26 (No. 47) has been received and submitted to the President, and you will accept his grateful acknowledgments for the very
interesting information and judicious observations which it contains concerning the present condition of Mexico.
In reply to an inquiry contained in your despatch, I have to inform you that, in the absence of further instructions from this department, you will be expected to remain in the same relations as now towards the government of the United States of Mexico.
If for any cause your residence in the city of Mexico shall become intolerable or seriously inconvenient, you will be at liberty to resort to any other part of the country, or to return to the United States. No contingency is now anticipated in which you will be expected to address yourself to any other government than the one to which you are accredited.
I give you, for your information, a copy of an instruction that has been given to Major General Banks since his occupation of Brownsville, in Texas. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
THOMAS CORWIN, Esq., &c., &c., &c.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 23, 1863. GENERAL: I have received, and have submitted to the President, your three despatches of the 6th, 7th, and 9th, respectively.
I have great pleasure in congratulating you upon your successful landing and occupation upon the Rio Grande, which is all the more gratifying because it was effected at a moment of apparently critical interest in the national cause.
You have already found that the confusion, resulting from civil strife and foreign war in Mexico, offers seductions for military enterprise. I have, therefore, to inform you of the exact condition of our relations towards that republic at the present time. We are on terms of amity and friendship, and maintaining diplomatic relations, with the republic of Mexico. We regard that country as the theatre of a foreign war, mingled with civil strife. In this conflict we take no part, and, on the contrary, we practice absolute non-intervention and non-interference. In command of the frontier, it will devolve on you, as far as practicable consistently with your other functions, to prevent aid or supplies being given from the United States to either belligerent.
You will defend the United States in Texas against any enemies you may encounter there, whether domestic or foreign. Nevertheless, you will not enter any part of Mexico, unless it be temporarily, and then clearly necessary for the protection of your own lives against aggression from the Mexican border. You can assume no authority in Mexico to protect citizens of the United States there, much less to redress there wrongs or injuries committed against the United States or their citizens, whether those wrongs or injuries were committed on one side of the border or the other. If consuls find their positions unsafe on the Mexican side of the border, let them leave the country,, rather than invoke the protection of your forces. These directions result from the fixed determination of the President to avoid any departure from lawful neutrality, and any unnecessary and unlawful enlargement of the present field of war. But, at the same time, you will be expected to observe military and political events as they occur in Mexico, and to communicate all that shall be important for this government to understand concerning them. It is hardly necessary to say that any suggestions you may think proper to give for the guidance of the government in its relations towards Mexico will be considered with that profound respect which is always paid to the opinions which you express.
In making this communication, I have endeavored to avoid entering into the sphere of your military operations, and to confine myself simply to that in which you are in contact, with the political movements now going on in Mexico.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
Major General N. P. BANKS,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Commanding the Department of the Gulf, Brownsville, Texas.
H. Ex. Doc. 11-2
MEXICAN Legation in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Washington, November 22, 1862.
Mr. SECRETARY: I have the honor to inform you that my government has given me instructions to communicate to that of the United States that the Mexican government has reliable information to the effect that the chief of the French expedition, which is invading the republic, has sent emissaries to New Orleans and New York to purchase mules and wagons for transporting the cannon, war materials, and provisions to the interior of Mexico. My government thinks that if such purchases should be realized, the neutrality to which they are bound would be violated by the sellers, this being the position which the government of the United States has desired to take in the war which the Emperor of the French is waging against my country. It is not doubted, in the opinion of my government, that such a sale would be a direct assistance to one of the belligerents, since it would be given to its army, which necessarily would use it in acts of hostility. In view of the preceding considerations, the government of Mexico has instructed me to solicit from that of the United States that, if it should not already have been done, it issue the orders it may deem proper to prevent the effects indicated from leaving the ports of the United States purchased for the use of the army now invading Mexico. Before these instructions had reached me I had learned, in a most reliable manner, that the emissaries of the French destined to New York had arrived some days since at that port, and were busy in purchasing the effects which they came to procure.
.I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Romero.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 22d instant, informing me that you have been instructed by your government to make known to that of the United States that the commanding general of the French
expedition now invading the territory of Mexico has sent emissaries to the cities of New Orleans and New York for the purchase of mules and wagons with which to transport his cannon, war materials, munitions, and provisions to the interior of Mexico; that the government of Mexico thinks that citizens of the United States would, in making sales of these articles to said emissaries, violate the neutrality they are bound to observe towards Mexico, and that the government of Mexico does not doubt that such sales would be the giving of direct assistance to the French army, which would use them in acts of hostility towards your government; that prior to your receipt of said instructions, you had been reliably informed that these French emissaries had arrived at New York, and were there busily engaged in the purchase of the articles they came to procure; and, finally, that in view of these facts the government of Mexico desires that this government shall issue, if it should not already have done so, the proper orders to prevent the effects mentioned from leaving the ports of the United States, they being purchased for the use of the French invading army.
In reply, I have the honor to inform you that, prior to the receipt of your note aforesaid, information of a similar nature had reached this department through the consul general of the United States at Havana, and that the matter had been submitted to the consideration of the Secretary of the Treasury, a copy of whose reply I herewith enclose, together with the extracts from the authorities in the case; and from which it appears that no intervention with the mission of the French officers is contemplated by the Treasury Department, to whom the subject more immediately appertains.
This decision appears to be in conformity with precedents, and with the rules of international law governing the case.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurances of my consideration.
Señor Don MATIAS ROMERO, &c., &c, &c.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
Enclosures with Mr. Seward's note, November 24.
TREASURY Department, November 20, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th ultimo, covering the despatch of the consul general of Havana concerning the departure of two officers of the French army for New York to purchase supplies for that army in Mexico.
I send you enclosed authorities in this case, collected for me by Mr. Marcellus Bailey, of the office of the Solicitor of the Treasury, which may be acceptable.
No intervention with the mission of these officers is contemplated by me.
With great respect,
Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury.
Instructions to collectors of customs, issued by Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, August 4, 1793.
"The purchasing and exporting from the United States, by way of merchandise, articles commonly called contraband, being generally warlike instruments and stores, is free to all parties at war, and is not to be interfered with. If our own citizens undertake to carry them to any of these parties, they will be abandoned to the penalties which the laws of war author ize."—(Am. State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. 1, p. 141.)
Mr. Webster to Mr. Thompson, July 8, 1842.
"It is not the practice of nations to undertake to prohibit their own subjects from traffick ing in articles contraband of war. Such trade is carried on at the risk of those engaged in
it under the liabilities and penalties prescribed by the law of nations or particular treaties."(Webster's Works, vol. 6, p. 452.)
Mr. Webster's instructions of July 8, 1842, cited in Gardner's Inst., American International Law, p. 552.
"That if American merchants, in the way of commerce, had sold munitions of war to Texas, the government of the United States, nevertheless, were not bound to prevent it, and could not have prevented it without a manifest departure from the principles of neutrality." President's message, 1st session 34th Congress.-Franklin Pierce, President; William L. Marcy, Secretary of State.
"The laws of the United States do not forbid their citizens to sell to either of the belligerent powers articles contraband of war, or take munitions of war or soldiers on board their private ships for transportation; and although, in so doing, the individual citizen exposes his property or person to some of the hazards of war, his acts do not involve any breach on national neutrality, nor of themselves implicate the government."-(Ez. Doc., 1855-'56, vol. 1, Pt. I, p. 6.)
Mr. Webster to Mr. Thompson.
"As to advances, loans, or donations of money or goods made by individuals to the government of Texas or its citizens, the Mexican government hardly needs to be informed that there is nothing unlawful in this so long as Texas is at peace with the United States, and that these are things which no government undertakes to restrain.”—(Ex. Doc., 27th Cong., 2d Sess., 1841-'42, vol. 5, Doc. 266.)
Mr. Romero to Mr. Seward.
MEXICAN LEGATION IN THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, December 10, 1862.
Mr. SECRETARY: The note which you were pleased to address to me under date of the 24th of November last past, and the documents thereto annexed, have informed me that the honorable Secretary of the Treasury of the United States does not propose to interfere with the purchase of articles contraband of war which the officers of the French army invading Mexico may make in the United States, and who have come to obtain the means of transportation for the use of the same army, and to whom I alluded in the note which I had the honor to address you on the 22d day of November aforesaid. It is not possible for me to refrain from expressing the pain and surprise caused me on learning that the decision of the honorable Secretary of the Treasury was sustained by yourself, for, in truth, it is very different from that which I thought myself entitled to expect. Assuming, as my government has assumed, that that of the United States is a neutral in the war which the Emperor of the French is waging against Mexico, it was natural to hope that if, in consequence of such a condition, this government did not aid one of the belligerents, it would act in the same manner towards the other, in which it would do no more than to comply faithfully with the obligations inherent to neutrality. It is very far from my purpose to teach the government of the United States what these obligations are; but I, however, deem it my duty to make known to it my opinion and that of my government: that it is incompatible with them to permit one of the belligerent armies to provide itself, in its territory, with whatsoever it may require to carry on hostilities.
Vattel, speaking at paragraph 104, chapter VII, book III, of his "Law of Nations," upon the obligations of neutrality, says that " as long as a neutral nation wishes securely to enjoy the advantages of her neutrality, she must in all things show a strict impartiality towards the belligerent powers." Examining further