Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/309

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279
First Congress.

inherent rights, and accordingly the provision for perpetuity contained in the Articles of Confederation of 1778 was omitted in the Constitution of 1789. When, therefore, in 1861, eleven of the States again thought proper, for reasons satisfactory to themselves, to secede from the second Union and to form a third one under an amended constitution, they exercised a right which, being inherent, required no justification to foreign nations, and which international law did not permit them to question. The usages of intercourse between nations do, however, require that official communication be made to friendly powers of all organic changes in the constitution of States, and there was obvious propriety in giving prompt assurance of our desire to continue amicable relations with all mankind. It was under the influence of these considerations that your predecessors, the Provisional Government, took early measures for sending to Europe commissioners charged with the duty of visiting the capitals of the different powers and making arrangements for the opening of more formal diplomatic intercourse. Prior, however, to the arrival abroad of those commissioners the United States had commenced hostilities against the Confederacy by dispatching a secret expedition for the reënforcement of Fort Sumter, after an express promise to the contrary, and with a duplicity which has been fully unveiled in a former message.[1] They had also addressed communications to the different Cabinets of Europe in which they assumed the attitude of being sovereign over this Confederacy, alleging that these independent States were in rebellion against the remaining States of the Union, and threatening Europe with manifestations of their displeasure if it should treat the Confederate States as having an independent existence. It soon became known that these pretensions were not considered abroad to be as absurd as they were known to be at home, nor had Europe yet learned what reliance was to be placed on the official statements of the Cabinet at Washington.

The delegation of power granted by these States to the Federal Government to represent them in foreign intercourse had led Europe into the grave error of supposing that their separate sovereignty and independence had been merged into one common sovereignty, and had ceased to have a distinct existence. Under


  1. See page 71.