Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/390

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

them of the same right of self-government which we assert for ourselves. If the Mexican people prefer a monarchy to a republic, it is our plain duty cheerfully to acquiesce in their decision and to evince a sincere and friendly interest in their prosperity. If, however, the Mexicans prefer maintaining their former institutions, we have no reason to apprehend any obstacle to the free exercise of their choice. The Emperor of the French has solemnly disclaimed any purpose to impose on Mexico a form of government not acceptable to the nation; and the eminent personage to whom the throne has been tendered declines its acceptance unless the offer be sanctioned by the suffrages of the people. In either event, therefore, we may confidently expect the continuance of those peaceful relations which have been maintained on the frontier, and even a large development of the commerce already existing to the mutual advantage of the two countries.

It has been found necessary since your adjournment to take action on the subject of certain foreign Consuls within the Confederacy. The nature of this action and the reasons on which it was based are so fully exhibited in the correspondence of the State Department, which is transmitted to you, that no additional comment is required.

In connection with this subject of our relations with foreign countries, it is deemed opportune to communicate my views in reference to the treaties made by the Government of the United States at a date anterior to our separation, and which were consequently binding on us as well as on foreign powers when the separation took effect. It was partly with a view to entering into such arrangements as the change in our Government had made necessary that we felt it our duty to send commissioners abroad for the purpose of entering into the negotiations proper to fix the relative rights and obligations of the parties to those treaties. As this tender on our part has been declined, as foreign nations have refused us the benefit of the treaties to which we were parties, they certainly have ceased to be binding on us, and in my opinion our relations with European nations are therefore now controlled exclusively by the general rules of the law of nations. It is proper to add that these remarks are intended to apply solely to treaty obligations toward foreign governments, and have no reference to rights of individuals.