Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/20

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

the mastery over new and complicated questions arising out of changed conditions. For these and other reasons, they did not bestow attention upon this correspondence, and it has never been unearthed and given to the public in either the Southern or Northern States. It will, therefore, be new in both sections, and the people of each must alike find enjoyment and pleasure in reading it. Interest in it will begin with the first notes given the Commissioners by the Government, and their departure for Europe. The story of their efforts to evade the blockade of the Southern ports, the successful passage of Mason and Slidell from their own shores to Cuba, and their embarkment for Europe on an English vessel, from which they were captured on the high seas, and brought to the United States as prisoners, the peremptory demand by Great Britain upon the United States for their restoration to her ships, the compliance with this demand, and their safe arrival and reception in Europe are all of thrilling interest, even at this remote day.

If the United States Government had persisted in holding these gentlemen, it would in all probability have become embroiled in war with Great Britain, the results of which no one could have foretold; nor is it possible to conceive what might have been the effect of such a war upon the fate and fortunes of the Confederacy.

When divested of the sad memories of that dark and gloomy period, this correspondence reads almost like romance.

From Mexico there will be found valuable and important correspondence. These communications are mainly to and from Mr. Pickett, and in them, among other things of interest, will be found something of the story of the installation by France of Maximilian, the unfortunate young Austrian archduke, upon the throne as Emperor of Mexico, which he subsequently lost, and which cost him his life.

The reader will find a carefully prepared Index in each volume, which will materially assist in the investigation of the subjects therein discussed. These Indices are largely the labor of my son, James D. Richardson, Jr., who has also aided me in the entire work.

James D. Richardson.

January 1, 1905.