Messrs. George Coppell, claiming to be H. B. M. Acting Consul; A. Mejan, French Consul; M. W. Benachi, Greek Consul. for confederate treasury notes, and then bought these sugars with the notes. Now this is claimed to be “strictly mercantile.” It will not be denied that the sugars were intended for a foreign market. But the Government of the United States had said that with the port of New-Orleans there should be no “strictly mercantile” transactions. It would not be conceded for a moment that the exchanging of specie for confederate treasury notes, and sending the specie to Europe, to enable the rebels to buy arms and munitions of war there, were not a breach of the blockade, as well as a violation of the neutrality laws and the proclamation of their majesties, the Queen of Great Britain and the Emperor of France. What distinguishes the two cases, save that drawing the sterling bills is a more safe and convenient way of eluding the laws than sending bullion in specie, and thus assist the rebellion in the point of its utmost need? It will be claimed that to assist the rebellion was not the motive. Granted “causa argument!” It was done from the desire of gain, as doubtless all the violations of neutrality have been done by aliens during this war — a motive which is not sanctifying to acts by a foreigner, which, if done by a subject, would be treason or a high misdemeanor. My proclamation of May first assures respect to all persons and property that were respectable. It was not an amnesty to murderers, thieves, and criminals of deeper dye or less heinousness, nor a mantle to cover the property of those aiders of the rebellion, whether citizens or aliens, whom I might find here. If numbers of the foreign residents here have been engaged in aiding the rebellion, either directly or indirectly, from a spirit of gain, and they now find themselves objects of watchful supervision by the authorities of the United States, they will console themselves with the reflection that they are only getting the “bitter with the sweet.” Nay, more, if honest and quiet foreign citizens find themselves the objects of suspicion too, and even their honest acts subjects of investigation by the authorities of the United States to their inconvenience, they will, upon reflection, blame only the over-rapacious and greedy of their own fellow-citizens, who have, by their aid to rebellion, brought distrust and suspicion over all. Wishing to treat you, gentlemen, with every respect, I have set forth at length some of the reasons which have prompted my action. There is one phrase in your letter which I do not understand, and cannot permit to pass without calling attention to it. You say, “the undersigned are disposed to waive all past proceedings,” etc. What “proceedings” have you, or either of you, to “waive” if you do feel disposed so to do? What right have you in the matter? What authority is vested in you by the laws of nations or of this country, which gives you the power to use such language to the representative of the United States, in a quasi official communication? Commercial agents, merely of a subordinate class, consuls have no power to waive or condone any proceeding past or present of the government under whose protection they are permitted to reside so long as they behave well. If I have committed any wrong to Mr. Covas, you have no power to “waive” or pardon the penalty or prevent his having redress. If he has committed any wrong to the United States, you have still less power to shield him from punishment. I take leave to suggest, as a possible explanation of this sentence, that you have been so long dealing with a rebel confederation, which has been supplicating you to make such representation to the government whose subjects you are, as would induce your sovereigns to aid it in its traitorous designs, that you have become rusty in the language proper to be used in representing the claims of your fellow-citizens to the consideration of a great and powerful government, entitled to equal respect with your own. In order to prevent all misconception, and that, for the future, you gentlemen may know exactly the position upon which I act in regard to foreigners resident here, permit me to explain to you that I think a foreigner resident here has not one right more than an American citizen, but at least one right less, that is, that of meddling or interfering, by discussion, vote, or otherwise, with the affairs of the Government. I have the honor to subscribe myself, Your obedient servant,B. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.
General orders no. 41.
United States, have the honor to represent that General Orders No. 41, under date of tenth inst., contains certain clauses, against which they deem it their duty to protest, not only in order to comply with their obligations as representatives of their respective governments, now at peace and in friendly relations with the United States, but also to protect, by all possible means, such of their fellow-citizens as may be morally or materially injured by the execution of an order which they consider as contrary, both to that justice which they have a right to expect at the hands of the Government of the United States, and to the laws of nations. The “Order” contains two oaths: one, applicable both to the native-born and to such foreigners as have not claimed and received a protection from their government, etc.; the second applicable, it would seem, to such foreigners as may have claimed and received the above protection: