Page:The Fall of Maximilan's Empire.djvu/17

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his matchless Secretary of State, he steered the country through dangers that darkly clouded the horizon of its future. The establishment of a European monarchy in Mexico, supported by a European army, could not have failed to be a perpetual menace to the peace of the North American continent, and would have compelled, in the United States, a continued armament and state of military preparation most distasteful to a nation specially averse to war and devoted to the peaceful development of the western hemisphere. The one great fundamental idea, underlying all diplomatic expressions, had been well given in a letter from Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton in April, 1864. "I remain now firm as heretofore in the opinion that the destinies of the American continent are not to be permanently controlled by any political arrangement that can be made in the capitals of Europe."

In the autumn of 1865 the Emperor of France was led to suggest a willingness to retire from Mexico, but that it would be inconvenient to do so without first receiving from the United States an assurance of a friendly or a tolerant disposition to the power which had assumed to itself an imperial form in the capital city. But the only answer that could be made to this overture was that, while friendship with France had always been deemed important and peculiarly agreeable by the Ameri-