CHAPTER IX. ENTER MR. LINDSAY
The friendly atmosphere created by the lifting of the threatening Trent episode, appears to have made Secretary Seward believe that the moment was opportune for a renewal of pressure on Great Britain and France for the recall of their Proclamations of Neutrality. Seizing upon the victories of Grant at Forts Henry and Donelson, he wrote to Adams on February 28 explaining that as a result the United States, now having access to the interior districts of Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, "had determined to permit the restoration of trade upon our inland ways and waters" under certain limitations, and that if this experiment succeeded similar measures would be applied "to the country on the sea-coast, which would be some alleviation of the rigour of the blockade." He added that these "concessions" to foreign nations would "go much further and faster" if those nations would withdraw their "belligerent privileges heretofore so unnecessarily conceded, as we conceive, to the insurgents." This was large talk for a relatively unchanged military situation. Grant had as yet but forced open the door in the West and was still far from having "access to the interior districts" of the states named. Lyons, being shown a copy of this despatch to Adams, commented to Russell that while it might be said the position and the spirit of the Northern armies were greatly improved and notable successes probable, it could not be maintained that hostilities were "so near their conclusion or are carried on upon so small a scale as to disqualify either party for the title of Belligerents." Lyons and Mercier were agreed that this was no time for the withdrawal of belligerent rights to the South, and when the hint was received that the purpose of making such a request was in Seward's mind, the news quite took Thouvenel's breath away. As yet, however, Seward did no more than hint and Adams was quick to advise that the moment had not yet come "when such a proceeding might seem to me likely to be of use."
Just at this time Seward was engaged in forwarding a measure no doubt intended to secure British anti-slavery sympathy for the North, yet also truly indicative of a Northern temper toward the South and its "domestic institution." This was the negotiation of a Slave-Trade treaty with Great Britain, by which America joined, at last, the nations agreeing to unite their efforts in suppression of the African Slave Trade. The treaty was signed by Seward and Lyons at Washington on April 7. On the next day Seward wrote to Adams that had such a treaty been ratified "in 1808, there would now have been no sedition here, and no disagreement between the United States and foreign nations," a melancholy reflection intended to suggest that the South alone had been responsible for the long delay of American participation in a world humanitarian movement. But the real purpose of the treaty, Lyons thought, was "to save the credit of the President with the Party which elected him if he should make concessions to the South, with a view of reconstructing the Union" - an erroneous view evincing a misconception of the intensity of both Northern and Southern feeling if regarded from our present knowledge, but a view natural enough to the foreign observer at the moment. Lyons, in this letter, correctly stated the rising determination of the North to restore the Union, but underestimated the rapid growth of an equal determination against a restoration with slavery. The real motive for Seward's eagerness to sign the Slave Trade treaty was the thought of its influence on foreign, not domestic, affairs. Lyons, being confident that Russell would approve, had taken "the risk of going a little faster" than his instructions had indicated.