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Mr. Seward's fortification circular — its effect at the North--Opinions of the Press.
The promulgation of the circular of Secretary Seward, recommending the Governors of the Northern States to provide for the defence of their frontiers and seacoast, has created an intense feeling at the North, where it seems to be considered a diplomatic puzzle, intended for some supposed important object which the political editors cannot yet determine. It would seem, however, from the tenor of their articles, copious extracts from which we give below, that it is supposed the circular is to counteract any influence that our Commissioners, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, may exert in Europe, should they safely arrive there. The New York Express, however, sees nothing in it but a preparation reasonably called for by the menacing attitude of England, and says: ‘ Mr. Seward's admonition to England, and other powers, for we presume from its publication, it is rather an admonition than an address to Gov. Morgan, is well, very well; but we must not consent ourselves in receiving it only as a foreign admonition, but prepare for it here at home, in fortifying and arming. The whole militia system of this State should be remodeled the moment the Legislature assembles. Every man in the State, from 18 to 45, should be brought under arms, for we know not what day the British red coats in Canada may be pitched in upon us. But there are offensive steps to be taken as well as defensive. Our reciprocally treaty with Canada should be overhauled, and Canada should be made to feel that her cause and the cause of the North are one. ’ What we want as an offset to British interference in our civil war is American interference in England and Canada, re-developing to the utmost there the abolition and anti-slavery furore. If we have Irish orators here that can re-tread in safety the soil of Ireland, let them go, as commissioners, and touch the Irish heart once more. Great Britain is giving us every reason to excite, wherever we can, sentiment, passion, wrath, against the Administration of the British Government. The Express, before the war and since the war, has never disguised its apprehensions that we were to have serious trouble with Great Britain, and with France, too, if we did not diplomatize, and give France business favors at the cost of Great Britain. The feeling against Great Britain, indeed, in this country, is becoming so strong, that hundreds of us, who denounced the Morrill tariff as a barbarism in trade, rather rejoice in it now, and wish it was an embargo on British importations rather than a tariff. If the Morrill tariff did not exist, associations would soon be forming to touch not, taste not British manufactured goods. The New York Commercial (Rep.) takes the Secretary severely to task for issuing the circular. It says: ‘ The first thing probably that will strike the reader is the incongruity between the recommendation so earnestly and elaborately made and the distinct assurance that the danger of any disturbance of our friendly relations with foreign powers is "now less serious than it has been at any previous period during the course of the insurrection." If by this language the Secretary of State means that such danger is still serious, but less imminent than it was, say three or six months ago, we can only say that he expresses himself somewhat vaguely, and even that interpretation of his circular does not much mend the matter. The call upon the States to do the work that devolves upon the Federal Government ought to have been made when the danger was most imminent, and should not have been deferred to the "period" when the danger was "less serious." And why should the Secretary of State thus throw this alarm-creating appeal before the country now, that any possible danger has nearly vanished, when no recommendation was made to Congress on the subject, although, upon the Secretary's own showing, the danger was more serious when that body was in session than it now is? ’ We are at a loss to understand the principles by which the secretary of State has been guided in this matter. When the danger was "serious" that distinguished officer of the Government was silent, though Congress was in session, and certainly not indisposed liberally to entertain any recommendation from the Administration; and now, within six weeks of the next meeting of the same loyal and patriotic body, an appeal is made to the Governors of States to commence and expedite the work of fortification, when it is notorious that the majority of the Legislatures of those States, who alone can take any movements in that direction, do not meet until January, a month after Congress has assembled. Either the danger of disturbance to our present peaceful relations with foreign Powers, instead of being diminished, is really " more serious than it has been at any previous period during the course of insurrection," or that gentleman has written an untimely and injudicious circular. We have called it alarm-creating. One inevitable effect of it we judge will be, that it will disturb and depress the money market, cause a rapid decline in stocks, and not unlikely interfere seriously with the progress of the Government loan. This so experienced a public man as Mr. Secretary Seward ought to have foreseen, and to have avoided, if possible. For these reasons the Commercial doubts "the seasonableness and expediency of the circular," and throws out the suggestion that "a depudation be appointed to wait upon the President, in order to ascertain the meaning of the circular, and whether any real cause for alarm exists elsewhere than in the mind of the Secretary of State. " The Post (Rep.) styles the circular "A Diplomatic Puzzle," and says: ‘ If the document means simply that the Governors of the States and the Federal authorities should confer together as to the method of effective defences, it goes a long way round in order to say a very plain thing. Or, if it is meant as a warning to foreign powers, it might be suggested that deeds and not words are what the foreign powers regard. The defences themselves, constructed without preliminary flourish, would be the best warning that we could give to any body of ministers on hostile thoughts intent. ’ The Tribune thinks that the panic at the stock market was causeless, and says: ‘ There has seldom been a more baseless reaction witnessed in the street than this one, as the circular of Mr. Seward, although ill-timed and unnecessary, contains nothing which could alarm any one, excepting the most timid, and indeed commences with the assurance that the prospects of any disturbance of amicable relations with foreign States is now less than at any time since the commencement of the rebellion. Yet some of the speculators in Wall street were determined to see under the thin veil of the well-turned sentences of the Secretary that he anticipated a war with either France or England, and desired our coast to be prepared for it. ’ The Times believes that the threatening troubles hinted at in the circular may grow out of the proposed European movement against Mexico, and remarks: We have very little doubt that our Government is prepared to extend the utmost aid to Mexico in her extremity, and to offer armed resistance, if necessary, against the attempts at invasion and conquest which Spain may make. It is idle to say we have no interests to be protected there, and that we cannot afford to waste our strength in fighting the battles of other nations. We shall be fighting our own battle most effectually in defending Mexico against European conquest. Our prestige and national honor are involved in resisting such an effort to plant a hostile flag upon our weakest and most exposed frontier. We presume it is against possible dangers from this quarter that Mr. Sewardle precaution is directed. France and England may possibly join Spain in her endeavors, or they may so far encourage her as to involve themselves in complications with our blockade. For any emergency, it is clearly the duty of our people to be fully prepared. The following, from the Philadelphia Bulletin (Rep.) shows that journal thinks the "admonition" is meant for England: ‘ "The fact that the British Government is sending an unusual force to Canada, makes it necessary that the United States should do something, as a matter of security, and there is no less offensive way to do this than by calling on the Northern States to provide for the defence of their frontiers and sea-coasts." ’ The Ledger says that as Mr. Seward has been noted during the present troubles for his hopeful views, and not as an alarmist, more weight should be given to his anticipations of danger than to his assurances of security, and adds: ‘ We do not know what complications with foreign nations may arise out of the present insurrection and it is only prudent that we should be prepared to defend ourselves under any circumstances which may happen. Being prepared to maintain our rights, there will be less liability that they will be disregarded so as to force us into collision. ’ Boston, Oct. 17.--Secretary Seward's circular attracts no special attention, but its suggestions in favor of State action for coast defences meet with general approval. The circular had no perceptible effect on stocks or the money market to-day. Buffalo, N. Y., Oct. 17.--The Express (Rep.) says:‘--"Mr. Seward's circular has taken the country by surprise, and will be likely to occasion much anxiety lest there may be in the secrets of the Department a knowledge of real danger. If, in response to the armaments England has sent to Canada, our frontier should bristle with guns and be put in a position for either offence or defence, we are inclined to believe that the consequence would be as Mr. Seward suggests, pacificatory."’ The Courier (Democratic) does not understand the letter.
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