Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/19

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Prefatory Note.

close. They relate to the establishment of the provisional, and later to the permanent, Government of the Confederacy, its rise, progress, and fall, and contain a frequent statement of the fundamental grounds on which the rights of the Southern people to set up a Government for themselves rested, and tell vividly of the successes and defeats of the Confederate Army on many bloody fields. Much of the history and many events shown by them have been overlooked, or linger only in the minds of many persons in a half-forgotten way. But this is not true of the diplomatic correspondence, for it has never heretofore been published. It was all, or nearly all, profoundly secret and confidential at the time the communications were passed between the Confederate Commissioners and the State Department of the Confederacy. It will be remembered that the Commissioners to the leading nations of Europe were William L. Yancey, of Alabama, Pierre A. Rost, of Louisiana, and A. Dudley Mann, of Virginia. Later there were sent abroad James M. Mason, of Virginia, John Slidell, of Louisiana, and L. O. C. Lamar, of Mississippi. Messrs. Yancey and Mason spent much of their time at the Court of St. James, Mr. Slidell, at Paris, Mr. Rost, at Madrid, Mr. Lamar, at St. Petersburg, and Mr. Mann, at Brussels, although each made visits to other capitals. John T. Pickett was the Commissioner to Mexico. The foreign correspondence, therefore, was written and signed in the most part by these gentlemen, or some one of them. The letters to them emanated from the State Department, and were signed by the Secretary for the time being. The Secretaries of State were Robert Toombs, of Georgia, Robert M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, and Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, in the order named, all scholarly men of the highest culture, and all of them prior to the war had been members of the United States Senate. Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell had also been members of that body, and Mr. Yancey had been a member of the House of Representatives. All of them had also held other high positions in their respective States. Some of the papers are signed by William M. Browne, of Mississippi, who occasionally acted as Secretary of State.

When the war closed, the soldiers of both sides of the four years' desperate conflict returned to their peaceful pursuits, and were soon busy in their efforts to recover lost fortunes and to gain