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[359] such a provision for the abolition of slavery. They did not care how distant it was, so the fact was secured as the price of recognition, and the Emperor would be fully justified.

I expressed my individual willingness to accede to those terms, and promised to see the President upon the subject next morning when I went into Congress, and if he agreed with me I would immediately introduce a bill for the purpose.

“But,” said I, “Monsieur Paul, what guarantee can you give us that, if we take so important a step, the Emperor will acknowledge us?”

He replied, “Mr. Lyons, nobody can guarantee the Emperor, but you may be sure that the Emperor will do what I tell you he will do,” which I considered as but another mode of saying that he had been authorized to do what he had done.

It is due to Mr. Davis to say that I saw him next morning, at his own house, before Congress met, as soon as I went into town, and told him what had passed between the French Consul and myself. His answer was, “I should concur with you in accepting these terms but for the constitutional difficulty. You know that Congress has no jurisdiction over the subject of slavery.” “True,” I said, “but that difficulty may be gotten over, in my opinion, without any violation of the constitution. Let the bill providing for the gradual abolition of slavery also provide that it shall not take effect until the States have, by acts of their respective Legislatures, duly passed, approved and ratified it, which you know will be just as good as if passed beforehand, authorizing Congress to do the thing. I will not be guilty of the presumption of offering such a bill upon my simple responsibility, but if I may say that you concur with me I will introduce the bill to-morrow.” He then asked me why the French Government could not deal with the States in the matter, so as to avoid all constitutional questions. I told him I had put that very question to the French Consul, and his answer was, “France does not know the States, but she knows the Confederate Government and President Davis.”

Mr. Davis then said, “Well, I must consult the Cabinet, and if they agree with you I will send for you.” And there the matter ended.

Yours truly,

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