the influence of this error, which all appeals to reason and historical fact were vainly used to dispel, our commissioners were met by the declaration that foreign governments could not assume to judge between the conflicting representations of the two parties as to the true nature of their previous mutual relations. The Governments of Great Britain and France accordingly signified their determination to confine themselves to recognizing the self-evident fact of the existence of a war, and to maintaining a strict neutrality during its progress. Some of the other powers of Europe pursued the same course of policy, and it became apparent that by some understanding, express or tacit, Europe had decided to leave the initiative in all action touching the contest on this continent to the two powers just named, who were recognized to have the largest interests involved, both by reason of proximity and of the extent and intimacy of their commercial relations with the States engaged in war. It is manifest that the course of action adopted by Europe, while based on an apparent refusal to determine the question, or to side with either party, was in point of fact an actual decision against our rights and in favor of the groundless pretensions of the United States. It was a refusal to treat us as an independent Government. If we were independent States, the refusal to entertain with us the same international intercourse as was maintained with our enemy was unjust, and was injurious in its effects, whatever may have been the motive which prompted it. Neither was it in accordance with the high moral obligations of that international code whose chief sanction is the conscience of sovereigns and the public opinion of mankind, that those eminent powers should decline the performance of a duty peculiarly incumbent on them from any apprehension of the consequences to themselves. One immediate and necessary result of their declining the responsibility of a decision which must have been adverse to the extravagant pretensions of the United States was the prolongation of hostilities to which our enemies were thereby encouraged, and which have resulted in nothing but scenes of carnage and devastation on this continent, and of misery and suffering on the other, such as have scarcely a parallel in history. Had those powers promptly admitted our right to be treated as all other independent nations, none can doubt that the moral effect of such action would have
Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/310
Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.