Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/311

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281
First Congress.

been to dispel the delusion under which the United States have persisted in their efforts to accomplish our subjugation. To the continued hesitation of the same powers in rendering this act of simple justice toward this Confederacy is still due the continuance of the calamities which mankind suffers from the interruption of its peaceful pursuits, both in the Old and the New World.

There are other matters in which less than justice has been rendered to this people by neutral Europe, and undue advantage conferred on the aggressors in a wicked war. At the inception of hostilities the inhabitants of the Confederacy were almost exclusively agriculturists; those of the United States, to a great extent, mechanics and merchants. We had no commercial marine, while their merchant vessels covered the ocean. We were without a navy, while they had powerful fleets. The advantage which they possessed for inflicting injury on our coasts and harbors was thus counterbalanced in some measure by the exposure of their commerce to attack by private armed vessels. It was known to Europe that within a very few years past the United States had peremptorily refused to accede to proposals for abolishing privateering, on the ground, as alleged by them, that nations owning powerful fleets would thereby obtain undue advantage over those possessing inferior naval forces. Yet no sooner was war flagrant between the Confederacy and the United States than the maritime powers of Europe issued orders prohibiting either party from bringing prizes into their ports. This prohibition, directed with apparent impartiality against both belligerents, was in reality effective against the Confederate States alone, for they alone could find a hostile commerce on the ocean. Merely nominal against the United States, the prohibition operated with intense severity on the Confederacy, by depriving it of the only means of maintaining with some approach to equality its struggle on the ocean against the crushing superiority of naval force possessed by its enemies. The value and efficiency of the weapon which was thus wrested from our grasp by the combined action of neutral European powers in favor of a nation which professes openly its intention of ravaging their commerce by privateers in any future war is strikingly illustrated by the terror inspired among the commercial classes of the United States