The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Minister of France in Mexico

I think it a duty to enter here into some developments for your complete information upon the subject to which my despatch dated yesterday relates.

The settlement of our claim, such as results from the convention which you signed in Mexico the 27th September, 1865, and which has received, in its essential provisions, the approval of his Majesty, assures to our countrymen an acceptable reparation for the damages they have undergone. This convention will, we doubt not, be loyally executed. Thus will be attained, in what most nearly affects us, the purpose of our expedition, and satisfaction will be given for the grievance which constrained us to take up arms.

I need not recall the considerations which led us not to lose sight of the object of our expedition, but to use it to profit by proffering to Mexico important chances of a needed regeueration. This thought, the legitimacy of which we affirm anew, the disinterestedness and high political bearing thereof, determined the support we have lent to the enterprise courageously undertaken by the emperor Maximilian. Resolved to second his efforts, it was our duty, at any rate, to regulate the conditions of our co-operation by the measure of the French interests, about which, before all, we should preoccupy ourselves. The Emperor, through wise forecast, wished to preserve his government from the allurements of a generous thought by defining the nature and in advance restricting the extent of assistance which it was permissible to us to grant. We had to stipulate at the same time for the equivalent resources which should be placed at our disposal, and for the quotient and the coming in of the sums intended to defray our expenditures. Such was the object of the convention of Miramar, which was to be the regulator of our rights and our reciprocal duties. It would have no interest now to recall the circumstances which prevent the Mexican government from henceforth fulfilling the obligations which that act imposes on it, and which threaten to cast upon us, without any of the equivalents promised, the burden of a new establishment. I will not dwell upon the remarks which abound, in this respect, in my correspondence with the legation of the Emperor, and it would seem superfluous to me now to seek out in idle discussion the causes of a situation which my duty only obliges me to state. In equity, the chances of the bilateral contracts which bound us to the Mexican government being no longer to be executed by it, we are ourselves released from the obligations we had contracted.

However, sir, we perhaps would not have thought of availing ourselves of the privilege [Page 330] given us by the non-execution by the Mexican government of the engagements of the treaty of Miramar to declare ourselves exonerated from ours, if our resolution in that respect were not controlled by a consideration of fact which admits no discussion. The Mexican government is powerless to furnish to us those financial resources which are indispensable to keep up our military strength; and, besides, it even calls upon us to take charge of a large part of the expenses of its internal administration. These embarrassments are not new, and at various intervals we have attempted to meet them by facilitating loans, which have placed large sums at the disposal of Mexico. To-day any such recourse to credit is admitted to be impossible. What remains to us to do, in view of the established emptiness of the Mexican treasury and of demands which its poverty casts back on us? The provisions of our budget do not furnish us any means of supplying this deficit. If Mexico cannot pay the troops which we maintain in its territory, it will be impossible for us to keep them there. As for asking from our country new credits for this object, I have already explained this to you. As I have told you, public opinion has pronounced, with irrefutable authority, that the limit of sacrifices is reached. France will refuse to add anything to them, and the Emperor will not ask it. Far from me be the idea of misconstruing the efforts accomplished by the emperor Maximilian and by his government. The emperor has resolutely encountered the difficulties inherent to every new establishment, and which the peculiar condition in which Mexico was placed, perhaps, rendered still more arduous. His impulsion has been felt throughout; and if it has not been given to him to operate to the extent of his good intentions, and so rapidly as he conceived them, the transformation which the administration of the country calls for, incontestable results do not the less attest the activity of his initiative. In the provinces as in the capital, wherever the emperor, and the empress, so gallantly associated in the work of her august husband, have been able to make themselves personally known, their sympathetic reception by the people bears witness of their confidence—of the hopes with which they cling to the restoration of the empire. The emperor has himself proclaimed the close of the civil war, if, indeed, the resistance to his authority merited that name.

This situation, encouraging in many respects, leaves me to ask whether the well-understood interests of the emperor Maximilian are not here found to be in accord with the necessities to which we are bound to yield. Of all the reproaches heard from dissidents in the interior and adversaries abroad, the most dangerous to a government which is being established is certainly that of being sustained only by foreign force. Without question, the suffrages of Mexicans have met this imputation. It subsists, however, and it is well understood how advantageous it will be to the cause of the empire to take away this weapon from its adversaries.

At the moment when these various considerations oblige us to look to the close of our military occupation, the government of the Emperor, in its solicitude about the important work in which it took the initiative, and in its sympathy for the emperor Maximilian, was obliged to take into strict account the financial situation of Mexico. That situation is serious, but it is not desperate. With energy and courage, with firm and sustained will, the Mexican empire can triumph over the difficulties which lie in its way; but success can only be had at this price. This is the conviction we have extracted from the careful and scrupulous examination of its obligations and of its resources, and you must endeavor to impress this upon the mind of the emperor Maximilian and his government.

Accept, &c.