Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/383

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First Congress.

so as to make its terms mean almost the reverse of what they plainly conveyed could be considered otherwise than as a notification of the refusal of the British Government to remain bound by its agreement or longer to respect those articles of the declaration of Paris which had been repeatedly denounced by British statesmen and had been characterized by Earl Russell as "very imprudent" and "most unsatisfactory."

If any doubt remained of the motives by which the British ministry have been actuated in their conduct, it would be completely dissipated by the distinct avowals and explanations contained in the published speech recently made by Her Majesty's Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In commenting on the remonstrances of this Government against the countenance given to an ineffective blockade, the following language is used:

It is said we have, contrary to the declaration of Paris, contrary to international law, permitted the blockade of 3,000 miles of American coast. It is quite true we did so, and the presumable cause of complaint is quite true, that although the blockade is kept up by a sufficient number of ships, yet these ships were sent into the U. S. Navy in a hurry, and are ill-fitted for the purpose, and did not keep up so completely and effectively as was required, an effective blockade.

This unequivocal confession of violation, both of agreement with us and of international law, is defended on grounds the validity of which we submit with confidence to the candid judgment of mankind.

These grounds are thus stated:

Still, looking at the law of nations, it was a blockade we, as a great belligerent power in former times, should have acknowledged. We ourselves had a blockade of upward of 2,000 miles, and it did seem to me that we were bound in justice to the Federal States of America to acknowledge that blockade. But there was another reason which weighed with me. Our people were suffering severely for the want of that material which was the main staff of their industry, and it was a question of self-interest whether we should not break the blockade. But in my opinion the men of England would have been forever infamous if, for the sake of their own interest, they had violated the law of nations and made war, in conjunction with these slaveholding States of America, against the Federal States.

In the second of these reasons our rights are not involved, although it may be permitted to observe that the conduct of governments has not heretofore to my knowledge been guided by the principle that it is infamous to assert their rights whenever