This proposition from Mr. Seward
seemed to put upon me the responsibility of deciding the momentous question of future friendship or enmity between my own country and our ancient ally and friend.
I had, on the one hand, full authority from the War Department and the general-in-chief
of the army, given with the knowledge and consent of the President
of the United States
, to organize and equip an army for the purpose of driving the French
out of Mexico
, and on the other hand a request from the State Department to go to France
and try by peaceful means to accomplish the same end.
As the negotiation of the Mexican
loan had not made great progress, the funds were not yet available for the support of an army.
It was expected that the actual beginning of operations on the Rio Grande
would stimulate subscriptions to the loan, yet the lack of ready money was a sufficient cause for some delay in making the proposed ‘inspection tour’ to the Rio Grande
; and this fact, added to a natural love of peace rather than of war, and a due sense of the dictates of patriotism as contrasted with mere military ambition, determined the decision of that question.
It is reason for profound thankfulness that the peaceful course was adopted.
In a letter dated August 4, 1865, I informed Mr. Seward
of my decision, ‘after mature reflection,’ ‘to undertake the mission’ which he had proposed.
acknowledged my letter on August 9, and on the 19th I received a telegram from the War Department to ‘report at the State Department upon your [my] next visit to Washington
This order was promptly obeyed.
On August 23 the Secretary of War
sent a letter to the Secretary of State
, accrediting me as an officer of the army, in which capacity, and unofficially, I was to be understood by the public as visiting Europe
A copy of this letter, inclosed in one from the State Department, was sent to Mr. Bigelow, United States