War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1116 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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the United States from first to last has been one of resistance to their policy and of maintenance of the privileges of neutrals to be free from search. I should be very sorry to see our own country varying from what seems to me so honorable a record under the temptation of a little ephemeral success, entailing as it does so many of the most serous consequences to the prosperity of two great nations.

I have been particularly struck with the language used by Mr. Madison on this subject in his instructions given to Mr. Monroe to treat with the Government of Great Britain on the subjects then in dispute between the countries dated 5th of January, 1804. It is scarcely possible for words to be stronger in deprecation of such acts as the one that has just been committed. It would appear that he went so far as to propose a degreeof immunity to neutral vessels which was objected to on the British Government on the ground of "the facility it would give to the escape of traitors and the desertion of others whose services in time of war may be particularly important to an enemy. " Under these circumstances it would not seem advisable for us to insist upon assuming their position unless we are ready also to assume their old arrogant claim of the dominion of the seas. Our neutral rights are as valuable to us as ever they were, whilts time has reflected nothing but credit on our steady defense of them against superior power.

It has occurred to me then that at his moment it might be well to consider the expediency of renewing in some form at Washington the proposal made at the time alluded to by Mr. Madison which constitutes the first article of this project. Whatever may be the answer that will be given to the message sent out through Lord Lyons, the nature of which I do not undertake to prejudge, the offer of such a proposition may be of use as a basis of reconciliation whether before or after the commencement of hostilities. And it will serve to break the force ofion of Europe which will certainly be against us and if I may be permitted to say so, not without justice, should we choose to place ourselves in the position which has always heretofore earned for England the will of all the other maritime nations of the globe, not excluding ourselves.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,





HENRI MERCIER, Minister of the Emperor at Washington.

SIR: The arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board the English packet Trent by an American cruiser has produced in France if not the same emotion as in England at least extreme astonishment and sensation. Public sentiment was at once engrossed with the lawfulness and the cosequence of such an act and the impression which has resulted from this has not been for an instant doubtful.

The fact has appeared so much out of accordance with the ordinary rules of international law that it has chosen to throw the responsibility for it exclusively on the commander of the San Jacinto. It is not yet given to us to know whether this supposition is well founded; and the Government of the Emperor has therefore also had to examine the question raised by the taking away of the two passengers from the