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[313]

It was manifest that the course of action adopted by Europe, while based on an apparent refusal to determine the question or to side with either party, was, in point of fact, an actual decision against our rights and in favor of the groundless pretensions of the United States. It was a refusal to treat us as an independent government. If we were independent states, the refusal to entertain with us the same international intercourse which was maintained with our enemy was unjust, and was injurious in its effects, whatever might have been the motive which prompted it. Neither was it in accordance with the high moral obligations of that international code, whose chief sanction is the conscience of sovereigns and the public opinion of mankind, that those eminent powers should have declined the performance of a duty peculiarly incumbent on them, from any apprehension of the consequences to themselves. One immediate and necessary result of their declining the responsibility of a decision, which must have been adverse to the extravagant pretensions of the United States, was the prolongation of hostilities to which our enemies were thereby encouraged, and which resulted in scenes of carnage and devastation on this continent and of misery and suffering on the other such as have scarcely a parallel in history. Had those powers promptly admitted our right to be treated as all other independent nations, none can doubt that the moral effect of such action would have been to dispel the pretension under which the United States persisted in their efforts to accomplish our subjugation.

There were other matters in which less than justice was rendered to the Confederacy by ‘neutral’ Europe, and undue advantage conferred on the aggressors in a wicked war. At the inception of hostilities, the inhabitants of the Confederate States were almost exclusively agriculturists; those of the United States were to a large extent mechanics, merchants, and navigators. We had no commercial marine, while their merchant vessels covered the ocean. We were without a navy, while they had powerful fleets built by the money we had in full share contributed. The power which they possessed for inflicting injury on our coasts and harbors was thus counter-balanced in some measure by the exposure of their commerce to attack by private armed vessels. It was known to Europe that within a very few years past the United States had peremptorily refused to accede to proposals for the abolition of privateering, on the ground, as alleged by them, that nations owning powerful fleets would thereby obtain undue advantage over those possessing inferior naval force. Yet no sooner was war flagrant between the Confederacy and the United States than the maritime powers of Europe

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