Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 374.]

Sir: The Marquis de Moustier received the diplomatic body yesterday for the first time. He asked if it was true, as reported in the journals, that our official relations were soon to terminate; expressed his regret to learn that it was, and his desire to have co-operated with me in cultivating friendly relations between our respective countries. In reply to a question of mine he said that the policy of his government towards the United States and Mexico would not undergo any change in consequence of the change of his department. His excellency then went on to say that he was using what leisure he could command [Page 360] to master the various American questions with which he had no previous occasion to make himself familiar, and as soon as he was prepared he would be happy to talk with me or with my successor more at length; meantime he wished me to understand and to report to you that he saw the Emperor at Biarritz; that his Majesty expressed his desire and intention to retire from Mexico as soon as practicable, and without reference to the period fixed in the convention with Maximilian, if a shorter time will suffice. His excellency then went on to say that the “dissidents,” according to late reports, are gaining ground, but that it is not the intention of the Emperor to undertake new and distant expeditions to reduce them; that there was some talk of retaking Tampico, but what was decided upon had not yet transpired in Paris. He said the position of France was a delicate one, and that there was nothing that the Emperor desired more than to disembarrass himself of all his engagements with Mexico as soon as he could with dignity and honor, and that with our aid, upon which he counted, the time might he very much shortened.

To this I made only the general reply that I had no reason to doubt that the future intercourse of the United States with France would he marked by the same friendly consideration which had characterized it heretofore. I did not ask what kind of aid from the United States he had in his mind, presuming it was forbearance rather than any active co-operation upon which he counted.

I may as well mention in this connection that I returned yesterday morning from Biarritz, where I was informed by Mr. Periere, the owner of the Franco-Mexican line of steamships, that the contract had been finally signed by his agent at the ministry of war, for the repatriation of all the French army in Mexico in March next, that shall not have returned previously. The letter advising him of the fact had been received, as I understood him, only the day before. Some of the troops, he said, would be repatriated this fall, but all the remainder before the end of March.

I have reason to think he was instructed to make this communication to me.

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I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.