Mr. Seward to Mr. Motley

No. 173.]

Sir: An informal note has just been received from Mr. Bigelow, the United States minister at Paris. In this note Mr. Bigelow writes, in substance, as follows:

“The Moniteur of the 21st of March announces that a military convention was signed at Vienna on the 15th, between the Austrian government and the representative of Maximilian, supplementary to a convention of the same nature which had been previously concluded between the same parties.

“The purpose of this engagement, says the Moniteur, is to insure the enrolments necessary to keep full the Austrian corps in Mexico.”

Mr. Bigelow further writes as follows:

“I have seen it stated in another journal that a line of steamers is to be started from Trieste to Vera Cruz, to ply regularly after the 1st of April.”

Again, Mr. Bigelow furnishes an extract from the Paris Constitutionnel of the 21st of March;

“We learn from the Freudenblatt, of Vienna, that the enlistment for Mexico will begin immediately; that the funds had been received from Paris two months since.”

Your despatches of dates almost as late as that of Mr. Bigelow’s note are silent upon the rumors which he brings to the notice of this government. It is possible that more authentic information which you may possess concerning the disposition and proceedings of the Austrian government may enable you to treat the matter mentioned by Mr. Bigelow with indifference.

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Looking at the matter, however, from our point of observation, the Tumors referred to are deemed sufficient to entitle us to ask a friendly and just exposition of the imperial royal government of the relations which it proposes to assume or maintain henceforth in regard to Mexico.

You are expected, therefore, to execute the instructions which have heretofore been sent to you to that effect; and it is thought proper that you should state that, in the event of hostilities being carried on hereafter in Mexico by Austrian subjects, under the command or with the sanction of the government of Vienna, the United States will feel themselves at liberty to regard those hostilities as constituting a state of war by Austria against the republic of Mexico; and in regard to such war, waged at this time and under existing circumstances, the United States could not engage to remain as silent or neutral spectators.

The President may desire to call the attention of Congress to this interesting subject. You will see the importance, therefore, of obtaining the information which is desired as early as may be practicable consistently with the courtesies due to Austria as a friendly government.

Should you, however, find important reasons, now unknown to us, for deferring the execution of this instruction, you will be at liberty to exercise your discretion and report those reasons to us.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


J. Lothrop Motley, Esq., &c., &c., Vienna.