Mr. Seward to Mr. Bigelow
Sir: I enclose for your information a copy of a despatch which has been received from Mr. Chase, our consul general for Mexico, residing at Tampico, and of my answer thereto. A word of frank explanation may now perhaps be fitly spoken to Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys concerning our consuls and commercial agents in Mexico.
I begin with saying that it is understood that a person authorized by the power now dominant in the capital of Mexico has arrived at New York and solicited an informal interview with me. The advance thus proposed has been declined, in conformity with the settled position of this government to hold no interview, public or private, with persons coming from any country, other than the agents duly accredited by the authority of that country which is recognized by this government. This government has insisted that the opposite position, which to some extent is held in other States, and under which Mason, Slidell, and Mann, insurgent emissaries from this country, are admitted to unofficial conferences, is unfriendly and injurious to the United States. Thus we govern ourselves in our intercourse with other states by the principles that we claim ought to govern them in their relations with the United States.
We have not, for political reasons, recalled, and we shall not recall, for such reasons, from Mexico, any of our agents who are accredited to the republican government in that country. On the contrary, we have not intended and we do not insist on their being allowed to remain there in the exercise of their functions by the authority which has displaced that government in the capital. If inhibited by these authorities, in places occupied by them, our agents are instructed to desist from their functions, and, if need be, to withdraw from the country. Thus, while abiding events, we shall not be found increasing the confusion of affairs in that unfortunate country. In the course we are thus pursuing in regard to consular and commercial agents, we do not understand that they will, by tolerating this course on our part in Mexico, make any political concessions to us. The matter is a purely commercial one, and has no political significance whatever.
It may be well, on the other hand, that the existing authorities in the city of Mexico should understand through the French government that no exclusion of our agents will have any influence whatever to induce a change of the political attitude towards Mexico which the government of the United States has hitherto maintained.
This government has learned something of the value of concentration of purpose. We are engaged in suppressing a dangerous rebellion, and we are not willing to be unnecessarily diverted from that special duty with any controversy with any party in Mexico or elsewhere concerning affairs in that state.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
John Bigelow, Esq., &c., &c., &c.