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 union, whereby a new organization was constituted, which was made the representative of the individual states in all general intercourse with other nations. So long as the compact continued in force, this agent represented merely the sovereignty of the states. But, when a portion of the states withdrew from the compact and formed a new one under the name of the Confederate States, they had made such organic changes in their Constitution as to require official notice in compliance with the usages of nations. For this purpose the provisional government took early measures for sending to Europe commissioners charged with the duty of visiting the capitals of the different powers and making arrangements for the opening of more formal diplomatic intercourse. Prior, however, to the arrival abroad of these commissioners, the government of the United States had addressed communications to the different cabinets of Europe, in which it assumed the attitude of being sovereign over the Confederate States, and alleged that these independent states were in rebellion against the remaining states of the Union, and threatened Europe with manifestations of its displeasure if it should treat the Confederate States as having an independent existence. It soon became known that these pretensions were not considered abroad to be absurd as they were known to be at home; nor had Europe yet learned what reliance was to be placed in the official statements of the cabinet at Washington. The delegation of power granted by the states to the general government to represent them in foreign intercourse had led European nations into the grave error of supposing that their separate sovereignty and independence had been merged into one common sovereignty, and had ceased to have a distinct existence. Under the influence of this error, which all appeals to reason and historical fact were vainly used to dispel, our commissioners were met by the declaration that foreign governments could not assume to judge between the conflicting representations of the two parties as to the true nature of their previous relations. The governments of Great Britain and France accordingly signified their determination to confine themselves to recognizing the self-evident fact of the existence of a war, and to maintain a strict neutrality during its progress. Some of the other powers of Europe pursued the same course of policy, and it became apparent that by some understanding, express or tacit, Europe had decided to leave the initiative in all action touching the contest on this continent to the two powers just named, who were recognized to have the largest interests involved, both by reason of proximity to and of the extent of intimacy of their commercial relations with the states engaged in war.
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