Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/315

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
First Congress.

has been shown by evidence not capable of contradiction, and which has been furnished in part by the officials of neutral nations, that the few ports of this Confederacy, before which any naval forces at all have been stationed, have been invested so inefficiently that hundreds of entries have been effected into them since the declaration of the blockade; that our enemies have themselves admitted the inefficiency of their blockade in the most forcible manner by repeated official complaints of the sale to us of goods contraband of war, a sale which could not possibly affect their interests if their pretended blockade was sufficient "really to prevent access to our coast;" that they have gone farther and have alleged their inability to render their paper blockade effective as the excuse for the odious barbarity of destroying the entrance to one of our harbors by sinking vessels loaded with stone in the channel; that our commerce with foreign nations has been intercepted, not by effective investment of our ports, nor by the seizure of ships in the attempt to enter them, but by the capture on the high seas of neutral vessels by the cruisers of our enemies whenever supposed to be bound to any point on our extensive coast, without inquiry whether a single blockading vessel was to be found at such point; that blockading vessels have left the ports at which they were stationed tor distant expeditions, have been absent for many days, and have returned without notice either of the cessation or renewal of the blockade; in a word, that every prescription of maritime law and every right of neutral nations to trade with a belligerent, under the sanction of principles heretofore universally respected, have been systematically and persistently violated by the United States. Neutral Europe has received our remonstrances and has submitted in almost unbroken silence to all the wrongs that the United States have chosen to inflict on its commerce. The Cabinet of Great Britain, however, has not confined itself to such implied acquiescence in these breaches of international law as results from simple inaction, but has, in a published dispatch of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, assumed to make a change in the principle enunciated by the Congress of Paris, to which the faith of the British Government was considered to be pledged; a change too important and too prejudicial to the interests of the Confederacy to be overlooked, and against which I