The Marquis de Montholon to Mr. Seward

My Dear Sir: Conforming to the desire you expressed to me, I send you, herewith, a copy and translation of Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys’s despatch, the contents of which I have had the honor to read to you.

With the highest regards, I remain, my dear sir, respectfully yours,


Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.


Monsieur Drouyn de Lhuys to the Marquis de Montholon.—(Confidential.)

Monsieur le Marquis: I have taken several occasions since two months to advise you of the dispositions of the imperial government concerning the duration of the occupation of Mexico by the French troops. I told you, in my despatch of August 17, that we called with our most sincere wishes for the day when the last French soldier should leave the country, and that the cabinet of Washington could contribute to hasten that moment. On the 2d of September I renewed to you the assurance of our strong desire to withdraw our auxiliary corps so soon as circumstances should allow it. At last, following the same ideas more fully, in a private letter of the 10th of the same month I added that it greatly depended upon the United States to facilitate the departure of our troops. If they would adopt toward the Mexican government an amicable attitude, which would aid to the consolidation of order, and in which we could find motives of security for the interests which obliged us to carry arms beyond the Atlantic, we would be ready to adopt without delay the basis of an understanding on this subject with the cabinet of Washington; and I wish to make fully known to you now the views of the government of his Majesty.

What we ask of the United States is to be assured that their intention is not to impede the consolidation of the new order of things founded in Mexico; and the best guarantee we could receive of their intention would be the recognition of the emperor Maximilian by the federal government.

The American Union should not, it seems to us, be kept back by the difference of institutions, for the United States have official intercourse with all the monarchies of Europe and the New World. It is in conformity with their own principles of public law to regard the monarchy established in Mexico as being, at least, a government “de facto,” without particular regard to its nature or its origin, which has been consecrated by the sufferings of the people of that country; and in thus acting the cabinet of Washington would only be inspired with the same feelings of sympathy which President Johnson expressed recently to the envoy of Brazil, as guiding the policy of the United States towards the younger states of the American continent.

Mexico, it is true, is still occupied at this moment by the French army, and we can readily see that this objection will arise. But the acknowledgment of the Emperor Maximilian by the United States would, in our opinion, have sufficient influence upon the state of the country to allow us to take into consideration their susceptibilities on this subject; and should the cabinet of Washington decide to open diplomatic relations with the court of Mexico, we would see no difficulty to enter in arrangement for the recall of our troops within a reasonable period of which we would—might—consent to fix the termination.

In consequence of the vicinage and immense extent of the common frontier, the United States are, more than any other power, interested to see their trade with Mexico placed under the safeguard of stipulations in harmony with the mutual wants of both countries. We would most readily offer our good offices to facilitate the conclusion of a commercial treaty, thereby cementing the political “rapprochement” the bases of which I have just made known to you.

By order of the Emperor, I invite you to make known to Mr. Seward the dispositions of his Majesty’s government.

You are authorized, if you think it proper, to read him the contents of this despatch.

I remain,


The Marquis de Montholon, &c., &c., &c.