War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1176 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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The Constitutionnel:

The restitution of Messrs. Mason and Slidell is a victory of right, moderation and good sense. The Debats is afflicted at it and does not believe in the right. In vain has M.t de Rechberg and Count de Bernstorff recognized in the capture of the Southern envoys a violation of internation law; our contemporary is not of their opinion.

For the moment we have a party on our side strong and influential.

But friendly sentiments toward [us], as you are well aware, will not however withstand any great adverse pressure under the circumstances of our existing relations to foreign countries. We have in the present instatnce done well and are approved. So far so good. But the currents may change to-morrow with or without good reason. The only things we can really rely on are our principles and our power. Our daily acts must be necessarily of a queite secondary importance except as they illustrate one or the other of these forces.

It is only as the consistent defender of the rights of man that we can have any efficient standing at this juncture in Europe. The late event by giving us a party here reopened the question of African slaverly in both British and foreign circles. The beginning of this discussion is already manifest. Therein we are having an advantage.

I had the honor to report to your my opinion long ago that the leading Governments would give us a fair allowance of time to show what we could do with the rebellion before interfering in any way whatever. In endeavoring to conjecture what that limit would be I have felt that it would be coincident with the period of the near expiration of the cotton supply. This exhaustion I have supposed and so expressed myself to you would be postponed to about September next, when it will be likely to manifest itself in force.

My inference has been and now is (corroborated by constantly transpiring circumstances) that unless we can get possession of the leading cotton port by midsummer that we shall have the great maritime and manufacturing power taking measures to carry their merchantmen into those ports. And if I am not mistaken in my judgment it will be France that will lead in that movement.

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I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


WASHINGTON, January 17, 1862.


I transmit to Congress a translation of an instruction to the minister of His Majesty the King of Purssia accredited to this Government, and a copy of a note to that minister from the Secretary of State relating to the catpure and detention of certain citizens of the United States, passengers on board the British steamer Trent, by order of Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. Navy.


[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

BERLIN, December 25, 1861.

Baron VON GEROLT, &c. [Washington.]

MONSIEUR LE BARON: The warlike measures which President Lincoln has taken at sea against the States of the South which separated themselves from the Union could not fail from their beginning to