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[320]
According to the information we have hitherto received, we are inclined to believe that a combined step between France, England, and Russia, no matter how conciliatory, and how cautiously made, if it were taken with an official and collective character, would run the risk of causing precisely the very opposite of the object of pacification, which is the aim of the wishes of the three courts.

The unfavorable reception of the proposal was communicated by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to the representative of France at Washington. In this communication he said:

Convinced as we were that an understanding between the three powers in the sense presented by us would answer as much the interests of the American people as our own; that even that understanding was, in the existing circumstances, a duty of humanity, you will easily form an idea of our regret at seeing the initiative we have taken after mature reflection remain without results. Being also desirous of informing Mr. Dayton, the United States Minister, of our project, I confidently communicated it to him, and even read in his presence the dispatch sent to London and St. Petersburg. I could not but be surprised that the Minister of the United States should oppose his objections to the project I communicated to him, and to hear him express personally some doubts as to the reception which would be given by the Cabinet at Washington to the joint officers of the good offices of France, Russia, and Great Britain.

It has already been stated that, by common understanding, the initiative in all action touching the contest on this continent had been left by foreign powers to the two great maritime nations of Western Europe, and that the governments of these two nations had agreed to take no measures without previous concert. The result of these arrangements, therefore, placed it in the power of either France or England to obstruct at pleasure the recognition to which the Confederacy was justly entitled, or even to prolong the continuance of hostilities on this side of the Atlantic, if the policy of either could be promoted by the postponement of peace. Each, too, thus became possessed of great influence in so shaping the general exercise of neutral rights in Europe as to render them subservient to the purpose of aiding one of the belligerents, to the detriment of the other. Perhaps it may not be out of place to present a few examples by which to show the true nature of the neutrality professed in this war.

In May, 1861, the government of Her Britannic Majesty assured our enemies that ‘the sympathies of this country [Great Britain] were rather with the North than with the South.’

On June 1, 1861, the British government interdicted the use of its ports ‘to armed ships and privateers, both of the United States and the so-called Confederate States,’ with their prizes. The Secretary of State of the United States fully appreciated the character and motive of this interdiction, when he observed to Lord Lyons, who communicated it,

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