Mr. Seward to the Marquis de Montholon

Sir: Having submitted to the President the copy of the despatch of Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys of the 5th of April, with which you favored me on the 21st instant, I have now to give you the views of this government thereupon.

It is with very great satisfaction that I find that the two governments of the United States and France have come to an agreement in regard to the present military intervention of France in Mexico.

This agreement I understand to be of the effect following, viz: The French military forces in Mexico will be withdrawn from that country in three separate detachments; the one to leave in November next, and the two others to leave in March and November, 1867.

On our part all the sentiments heretofore expressed concerning the principle of non-intervention are now with cheerfulness reaffirmed. I reciprocate cordially on behalf of the United States the desire and the hope upon which Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys so pleasantly dwells of a cordial renewal of the traditional [Page 379] friendship which constitutes an important element of the life of the American people, and which, while it is full of promise to the progress of civilization, is at the same time so highly honorable to the intelligence and love of freedom of both nations.

I am well aware that so large an army as that which the French Emperor now has in Mexico could not be conveniently withdrawn in a day, or in a few days, or all at once.

I can also apprehend, as I think, that it might not be altogether expedient for the French government to designate in advance the proportions which may be expected to be given to the several detachments respectively on their embarcation. On the other hand, I think it due to the frankness and sincerity which is required by the occasion to suggest that the continuance of the intervention during the period limited will necessarily be regarded with concern and apprehension by the masses of our people, and perhaps by Congress.

Under these circumstances our army of observation must also be continued in some proportion on the southern bank of the Rio Grande. This situation will be not altogether conformable with our national sentiments and habits. Moreover, no one can certainly reckon upon the exercise of so much prudence on the part of commanders and forces confronting each other across a boundary, as to remove all fear of unpremeditated disturbances and collisions. Therefore, the more promptly the intervention shall be brought to an end, the sooner and the more complete will be the return of the cordial good feelings which both governments so earnestly desire.

It seems to me not improbable that France, having determined upon the complete withdrawal of her forces from Mexico within the term of seventeen months, may hereafter find it convenient and consistent with her interest and honor even to abridge that term. Should this expectation be realized, it is not doubted that the Emperor will be as highly gratified as the United States with the new situation.

Accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my highest consideration.


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