Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/381

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First Congress.

did not fully appreciate. Certain it is that the action of this Government on the occasion and its faithful performance of its own engagements have been such as to entitle it to expect on the part of those who sought in their own interests a mutual understanding the most scrupulous adherence to their own promises. I feel constrained to inform you that in this expectation we have been disappointed, and that not only have the governments which entered into these arrangements yielded to the prohibition against commerce with us which has been dictated by the United States in defiance of the law of nations, but that this concession of their neutral rights to our detriment has on more than one occasion been claimed in intercourse with our enemies as an evidence of friendly feeling toward them. A few extracts from the correspondence of Her Majesty's Chief Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will suffice to show marked encouragement to the United States to persevere in its paper blockade, and unmistakable intimations that Her Majesty's Government would not contest its validity.

On the 21st of May, 1861, Earl Russell pointed out to the United States Minister in London that "the blockade might no doubt be made effective, considering the small number of harbors on the Southern coast, even though the extent of 3,000 miles were comprehended in terms of that blockade." On the 14th of January, 1862, Her Majesty's Minister in Washington communicated to his Government that, in extenuation of the barbarous attempt to destroy the port of Charleston by sinking a stone fleet in the harbor, Mr. Seward had explained "that the Government of the United States had last spring, with a navy very little prepared for so extensive an operation, undertaken to blockade upward of 3,000 miles of coast. The Secretary of the Navy had reported that he could stop up the 'large holes' by means of his ships, but that he could not stop up the 'small ones.' It had been found necessary, therefore, to close some of the numerous small inlets by sinking vessels in the channel."

On the 6th of May, 1862, so far from claiming the rights of British subjects as neutrals to trade with us as belligerents, and to disregard the blockade on the ground of this explicit confession by our enemy of his inability to render it effective, Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs claimed credit with the