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[267] the shape of a formal convention. But it was not deemed just by us to decline the arrangement on this ground, as little more than ninety days had then elapsed since the arrival of our Commissioners in Europe, and neutral nations were fairly entitled to a reasonable delay in acting on a subject of so much importance, and which, from their point of view, presented difficulties that we, perhaps, did not fully appreciate. Certain it is that the action of this government on the occasion, and its faithful performance of its own engagements, have been such as to entitle it to expect, on the part of those who sought in their own interests a mutual understanding the most scrupulous adherence to their own promises. I feel constrained to inform you, that in this expectation we have been disappointed, and that, not only have the governments which entered into these arrangements yielded to the prohibition against commerce with us, which has been dictated by the United States, in defiance of the laws of nations, but that this concession of their neutral rights, to our detriment, has, on more than one occasion, been claimed, in intercourse with our enemies, as an evidence of the friendly feeling toward them. A few extracts from the correspondence of Her Majesty's Chief Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, will suffice to show marked encouragement to the United States to persevere in its paper blockade, and unmistakable intimations that Her Majesty's government would not contest its validity.

On the twenty-first of May, 1861, Earl Russell pointed out to the United States Minister in London that “the blockade might no doubt be made effective, considering the small number of harbors on the Southern coast, even though the extent of three thousand miles were comprehended in terms of that blockade.”

On the fourteenth of January, 1862, Her Majesty's Minister in Washington communicated to his government that in extenuation of the barbarous attempt to destroy the port of Charleston by sinking a stone-fleet in the harbor, Mr. Seward had explained “that the Government of the United States had, last spring, with a navy very little prepared for so extensive an operation, undertaken to blockade upward of three thousand miles of coast. The Secretary of the Navy had reported that he could stop up the ‘large holes’ by means of his ships; but that he could not stop up the ‘small ones.’ It has been found necessary, therefore, to close some of the numerous small inlets by sinking vessels in the channel.”

On the sixth of May, 1862, so far from claiming the right of British subjects as neutrals to trade with us as belligerents, and to disregard the blockade on the ground of this explicit confession of our enemy of his inability to render it effective, Her Majesty's Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs claimed credit with the United States for friendly action in respecting it. His Lordship stated that “the United States Govern ernminent, on the allegation of a rebellion pervading from nine to eleven States of the Union, have now, for more than twelve months, endeavored to maintain a blockade of three thousand miles of coast. This blockade, kept up irregularly, but when enforced, enforced severely, has seriously injured the trade and manufactures of the United Kingdom. Thousands are now obliged to resort to the poor rates for subsistence, owing to this blockade. Yet Her Majesty's government has never sought to take advantage of the obvious imperfections of this blockade in order to declare it ineffective. They have, to the loss and detrment of the British nation, scrupulously observed the duties of Great Britain toward a friendly state.”

Again, on the twenty-second of September, 1862, the same noble Earl asserted that the United States were “very far indeed” from being in “a condition to ask other nations to assume that every port of the coasts of the so-styled confederate States is effectively blockaded.”

When, in view of these facts, of the obligations of the British nation to adhere to the pledge made by their government at Paris in 1856, and renewed to this Confederacy in 1861, and of these repeated and explicit avowals of the imperfection, irregularity, and inefficiency of the pretended blockade of our coast, I directed our Commissioner at London to call upon the British government to redeem its promise and to withhold its moral aid and sanction from the flagrant violation of public law committed by our enemies, who were informed that Her Majesty's government could not regard the blockade of the Southern ports as having been otherwise than “practically effective” in February, 1862, and that “the manner in which it has since been enforced gives to neutral governments no excuse for asserting that the blockade has not been effectually maintained.” We were further informed, when we insisted that by the terms of agreement no blockade was to be considered effective unless “sufficient really to prevent access to our coast,” that the declaration of Paris was, in truth, directed against blockades not sustained by any actual force, or sustained by a notoriously inadequate force, such as the occasional appearance of a man-of-war in the offing, or the like.

It was impossible that this mode of construing an agreement, so as to make the terms mean almost the reverse of what they conveyed, could be considered otherwise than as a notification of the refusal of the British government to remain bound by its agreement, or longer to respect those articles of the declaration of Paris, which had been repeatedly denounced by British statesmen, and had been characterized by Earl Russell as “very imprudent” and “most unsatisfactory.”

If any doubt remained of the motives by which the British Ministry have been actuated in their conduct, it would be completely dissipated by the distinct avowals and explanations contained in the public speech recently made by Her Majesty's Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In commenting on the remonstrances of this government against the countenance given to an ineffective


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