War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1214 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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In presenting the various views contained in this letter of instructions you will say that they are offered as much in the general interests of mankind as in our own. We do not ask for assistance to enable us to maintain our independence against any power which has yet assailed be mistaken in supposing it to be the duty of the nations of the earth by a prompt recognition to throw the weight of their moral influence against the unnecessary prolongation of the war.

Whether the case now presented be one for such action he is perhaps not the most impartial judge. He has discharged his duty to other nations when he has presented to their knowledge the facts to which their only sure access is through himself in such a manner as will equit themselves of their responsibilities to the world according to their own sense of right. But whilst he neither feels nor affects an indifference to the decision of the world upon these questions which deeply concern the interests of the Confederate States he does not present their claim to a recognized place amongst the nations of the earth from a belief that any such recognition is necessary to enable them to achieve and secure their independence. Such an act might diminish the sufferings and shorten the duration of an unnecessary war but with or without it he believes that the Confederate States under the guidance of a kind and overruling Providence will make good their title to freedom and independence and to a recognized place amongst the nations of the earth.

When you are officially recognized by the British Government and diplomatic relations between the two countries are thus fully established you will request an audience of Her Majesty for the purpose of presenting your letters accrediting you as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Confederate States near Her Majesty, and in that capacity you are empowered to negotiate such treaties as the mutual interests of both countries may require, subject of course to the approval of the President and the co-ordinate branch of the treaty-making power.

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


Secretary of State, Confederate States of America.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Richmond, September 23, 1861.

Honorable JOHN SLIDELL, &c.

SIR: Along with this you will receive your letter of credence to the Government of France to which the President desires you to present yourself as soon as possible. Our claims for recognition as an independent people have been made much stronger by events which have occurred since they were first presented by our commissioners.

But before re-enforcing those claims you will not fail to place the Confederate States in their true position before the Government of France. You will show that they are not to be considered as revolted provinces or rebellious subjects seeking to overthrow by revolutionary violence the just authority of a lawful sovereign, but on the contrary they stand before the world as organized parties maintaining their right to self-government with sufficient strength to make good their claim and so organized as to be morally and politically responsible for their actions. Their first Union was formed by a compact between sovereign and independent States upon covenants and conditions