Foreign Consuls — Dispatch to Mr. Mason.
We copy into our columns this morning, from the Sentinel,
of yesterday, an important communication from the Secretary of State
to Mr. Mason
, our Commissioner
This paper relates to the matter of the revocation of the Exequatur of Mr. Moore
, British Consul at this city, and explains the policy of the President
in his course with reference to the question of consular agencies generally in the South
The President has regarded the Exequatur given to the Consuls of foreign States by the United States
prior to the establishment of the Southern Confederacy as valid, upon the ground that the Federal Government
was then the constitutional agent of the Southern States
, and that "an act done by an agent while duly authorized continues to bind the principle after the revocation of the agent's authority." This will be readily concurred in even by those who disliked to see received here agents of Governments which persisted under circumstances somewhat aggravating in their refusal to recognize our own representatives to their Courts.
Acting under this view, foreign Consuls have received at the hands of the Government
of the Confederacy
all due consideration and official courtesy.
It seems from the letter of Mr. Benjamin
, however, that under the tolerance of our Government there had grown up an abuse.
Lord Lyons, it appears, has been from his post in Washington
exercising authority over Consuls in the South
, and even appointing agents to supervise British interests in the Confederacy
This our Government has thought it its duty to prohibit, and therefore requires that hereafter all communications and instructions to British Consuls shall be restricted to vessels arriving from or dispatched to foreign ports.
makes a pointed hit by intimating that this restriction is imposed with the less reluctance by the President
because of the ample facilities of communication afforded by the vessels continually plying between the Confederate
and neutral ports, in spite of the paper blockade "upheld by her Majesty's Government, in disregard" "of the rights of the Confederacy
"and "the dictates of public law!"
The letter of Mr. Benjamin
is a frank and dignified paper, and will give general satisfaction to our own people.
We suppose we are to understand from this communication that no new Consuls will be received here bearing the Exequatur of the Federal Government
Are we to infer that no Minister residing at Washington
and accredited to the Government
there is to be permitted to exercise authority over Consuls here, and that they must receive their instructions from home direct or through a neutral port?
The letter relates especially to the English Minister
Is the policy on the subject to be general?
We hope it is.