Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/389

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
359
First Congress.

quoted by writers on public law as a standing reproach on the good name of the nations who were betrayed by temporary exasperation into wrongdoing, and ought to be regarded rather as errors to be avoided than as examples to be followed.

The other measure is not open to this objection. The second article of the declaration of Paris, which provides "that the neutral flag covers enemy's goods, with the exception of contraband of war," was a new concession by belligerents in favor of neutrals, and not simply the enunciation of an acknowledged preƫxisting rule like the fourth article, which referred to blockades. To this concession we bound ourselves by the convention with Great Britain and France, which took the shape of the resolutions adopted by your predecessors on the 13th of August, 1861. The consideration tendered us for that concession has been withheld. We have therefore the undeniable right to refuse longer to remain bound by a compact which the other party refuses to fulfill. But we should not forget that war is but temporary, and that we desire that peace shall be permanent. The future policy of the Confederacy must ever be to uphold neutral rights to their full extent. The principles of the declaration of Paris commend themselves to our judgment as more just, more humane, and more consonant with modern civilization than those belligerent pretensions which great naval powers have heretofore sought to introduce into the maritime code. To forego our undeniable right to the exercise of those pretensions is a policy higher, worthier of us and our cause, than to revoke our adherence to principles that we approve. Let our hope for redress rest rather on a returning sense of justice which cannot fail to awaken a great people to the consciousness that the war in which we are engaged ought rather to be made a reason for forbearance of advantage than an occasion for the unfriendly conduct of which we make just complaint.

The events of the last year have produced important changes in the condition of our Southern neighbor. The occupation of the capital of Mexico by the French army, and the establishment of a provisional government, followed by a radical change in the constitution of the country, have excited lively interest. Although preferring our own Government and institutions to those of other countries, we can have no disposition to contest the exercise by