UNION CONFEDERATE NAVIES
WAR OF THE REBELLION
SERIES II, VOLUME 3
Rome, November, 1863
Sir: As I expected at the date of my no. 65, I reached here on the
9th instant, late in
On the 11th, at half past 1 p.m., I sought and promptly obtained an interview with his Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State, Antonelli. I at once explained to him the object of my mission to Rome and he instantly assured me that he would obtain for me an audiance of the sovereign Pontiff.
His Eminence then remarked that he would not withhold from me an
expression of his unbounded admiration of the wonderful powers which we had
exhibited in the field in resistance to a war which had been prosecuted with an
energy, aided by the employment of all the recent improvements in the
instruments for the destruction of life and property, unparalleled, perhaps, in
the worlds history. He asked me
several questions with respect to President Davis, at the end of which he
observed that he certainly had created for himself a name that would rank with
those of the most illustrious statesmen of modern times. He manifested an earnest desire for the
definitive termination of hostilities, and observed that there was nothing the
government of the Holy See could do with propriety to occasion such a result
that it was not prepared to do. I
seized the utterance of this assurance to inform him that but for the European
recruits received by the North, numbering annually something like 100,000, the
Lincoln Administration; in all likelihood, would have been compelled some time
before this to have retired from the contest, that nearly all those recruits
were from Ireland, and that Christianity had cause to weep at such a fiendish
destruction of life as occurred from the beguiling of those people from their
homes to take up arms against citizens who had never harmed or wronged them in
the slightest degree. He appeared to be touched by my statement, and intimated
that an evil so disgraceful to humanity was not beyond the reach of a salutary
His Eminence, after a short pause, took a rapid survey of the affairs of the nations of the earth, and drew a rather somber picture of the future, particularly of Europe. He did not attempt to conceal his dislike of England, his want of sempathy with Russia, his distrust of any benefits which might be expected from the congress proposed by France. "If old guaranties," said he, emphatically, "are of no value, new ones will be to feeble to resist expediency when sustained by might."
This is but a short and otherwise imperfect outline of one of the most
interesting official interviews I ever enjoyed, an interview which was of
lengthened duration and marked from beginning to end with extreme cordiality and
courtesy by the destinguished functionary by whom it was accorded. I will add, lest I may not have been
sufficiently explicit on that point, that it took place in his office in the
Vatican, where he receives all the foreign ministers.
I have the honor to be , sir, very respectfully, your obedient
A. DUDLEY MANN.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of State, C. S.
A., Richmond, Va.
No. 67.] Rome, November 14, 1863
Sir: At 3 o'clock on the afternoon of yesterday I received a formal notification that his Holiness would favor me with an audience, embracing my private secretary, Mr. W. Grayson Mann, to-day at 12 o'clock.
I accordingly proceeded to the Vatican sufficiently early to enable me to
reach there fifteen minutes in advance of the designated hour. In five minutes afterwards-ten minutes
prior to the appointed time-a message came from the sovereign Pontiff that he
was ready to receive me, and I was accordingly conducted into his presence.
His Holiness stated, after I had taken my stand near to his side, that he had been so afflicted by the horrors of the war in America that many months ago he had written to the Archbishops of New Orleans and New York to use all the influence that they could properly employ for terminating with as little delay as possible the deplorable state of hostilities; that from the former he had received no answer, but that he had heard from the latter and that his communication was not such as to inspire hopes that his ardent wishes would be speedily gratified.
I then remarked that "it is to a sence of profound gratitude of the Executive of the Confederate States and of my countrymen, for the earnest manifestations which your Holiness made in the appeal referred to, that I am indebted for the destinguished honor for which I now enjoy. President Davis has appointed me special envoy to convey in person to your holiness this letter, which, I trust, you will receive in a similar spirit to that which animated its author."
Looking for a moment at the address and afterwards at the seal of the letter, his Holiness took his scissors and cut the envelope. Upon opening it he observed: "I see it is in English, a language which I do not understand." I remarked: "If it will be agreeable to your holiness, my Secretary will translate its contents to you." He replied: "I shall be pleased if he will do so." The translation was rendered in a slow, solemn, and emphatic pronunciation. During its progress, I did not cease for an instant to carefully survey the features of the sovereign Pontiff. A sweeter expression of pious affection, of tender benignity, never adorned the face of mortal man. No picture can adequitely represent him when exclusively absorbed in Christian contemplation. Every sentence of the letter seemed to sensibly affect him. At the conclusion of each, he would lay his hand down upon the desk and bow his head approvingly. When the passage was reached wherein the President states, in such sublime and affecting language, "We have offered up at the footstool of our Father who is in Heaven prayers inspired by the same feelings which animate your Holiness," his deep sunken orbs visibly moistened were upturned toward that throne upon which ever sits the Prince of Peace, indicating that his heart was pleading for our deliverance from that causeless and merciless war which is prosecuted against us. The soul of infidelity--if, indeed, infidelity have a soul-- would have melted in view of so sacred a spectacle.
The emotion occasioned by the translation was succeded by a silence of some time. At length his Holiness asked whether President Davis was a Catholic. I answered in the negative. He then asked if I was one. I assured him that I was not.
His Holiness now stated, to use his own language, that "Lincoln & Co." had endeavored to create an impression abroad that they were fighting for the abolition of slavery, and that it might perhaps be judicious in us to consent to gradual emancipation. I replied that the subject of slavery was one over which the Government of the Confederate States, like that of the old United States, had no control whatever; that all ameliorations with regard to the institution must proceed from the States themselves, which were as sovereign in their character in this regard as were France, Austria, or any other continental power; that true philanthropy shuddered at the thought of the liberation of the slave in the manner attempted by "Lincoln & Co."; that such a procedure would be practically to convert the well-cared-for civilized negro into a semibarbarian; that such of our slaves as had been captured or decoyed off by our enemy were in an incomparably worse condition than while they were in the service of their masters; that they wished to return to their old homes, the love of which was the strongest of their affections; that if, indeed, African slavery were an evil, there was a power which, in its own good time, would doubtless remove that evil in a more gentle manner than that of causing the earth to be deluged with blood for its sudden overthrow.
His Holiness received these remarks with an approving expression. He then
said that I had reason to be proud of the self- sacrificing devotion of my
countrymen from the beginning to the cause for which they were contending. "The most ample reason," I replied, "and
yet, scarcely so much as of my countrywomen, whose patriotism, whose sorrows and
privations, whose transformation in many instances from luxury to penury, were
unparalleled and could not be adequetly described by any living language. There they had been from the
beginning--there they were still more resolute, if possible, than ever,
emulating in devotion, earthly though it was in its character, those holy female
spirits who were last at the cross.
His Holiness received this statement with evident satisfaction, and then
said: "I would like to do anything that can be effectively done, or that even
promises good results, to aid in putting an end to this most terrible war, which
is harming the good of all the earth, if I knew how to proceed."
I availed myself of this declaration to inform his Holiness that it was not the armies of Northern birth which the South was encountering in hostile array, but that it was the armies of European creation, occasioned by the Irish and Germans, chiefly by the former, who were influenced to emigrate (by circulars from "Lincoln & Co." to their numerous agents abroad) ostensibly for the purpose of securing high wages but in reality to fill up the constantly depleted ranks of our enemy; that those poor unfortunates were tempted by high bounties (amounting to $500, $600, and $700) to enlist and take up arms against us; that once in the service they were invariably placed in the most exposed points of danger in the battle field; that in consequence therof an instance had occurred in which an almost entire brigade had been left dead or wounded upon the ground; that but for foreign recruits the North would most likely have broken down months ago in the absurd attempt to overpower the South.
His Holiness expressed his utter astonishment, repeatedly throwing up his
hands, at the employment of such means against us, and the cruelty attendant
upon such unscrupulous operations.
"But, your Holiness," said I, "Lincoln & Co. are even more wicked, if possible, in their ways than in decoying innocent Irishmen from homes to be murdered in cold blood. Their champions, and would your Holiness believe it unless it were authoritatively communicated to you, their pulpit champions have boldly asserted as a sentiment: 'Greek fire for the families and cities of the rebels and hell fire for their chiefs.' "
His Holiness was startled at this information, and immediately observed:
"Certainly no Catholic could reiterate so monstrous a sentiment." I replied: "Assuredly not. It finds a place exclusively in the
hearts of the fiendish, vagrant, pulpit buffoons whose number is legion and who
impiously undertake to teach the doctrines of Christ for ulterior sinister
His Holiness now observed: "I will write a letter to President Davis, and
of such a character that it may be published for general perusal." I express my heartfelt gratification for
the assertion of this purpose. He
then remarked, half inquiringly: "You will remain here for several months
?" I, of course, could not do
otherwise than answer in the affirmative.
Turning to my secretary, he asked several kind questions personal to
himself and bestowed upon him a handsome compliment. He then extended his hand as a signal
for the end of the audience and I retired.
Thus terminated one among the most remarkable conferences that ever a foreign representative had with a potentate of the earth. And such a potentate! A potentate who weilds the conciences of 175,000,000 of the civilized race, and who is adored by that immence number as the vice regent of Almighty God in this sublunary sphere.
How strikingly majestic the conduct of the government of the Pontifical State in its bearing toward me when contrasted with the sneaking subterfuges to which some of the governments of western Europe have had recourse in order to evade intercourse with our commissioners. Here I was openly received by appointment at court in accordance with established usages and customs and treated from beginning to end with a consideration which might be enveid by the envoy of the oldest member of the family of nations. The audience was of forty minutes duration, an unusually long one.
I have written this dispatch very hurriedly and fear that it will barely be in time for the monthly steamer which goes off from Liverpool with the mails from the Bahama Islands next Saturday.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient
A. DUDLEY MANN.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of State, C. S. A.,
Rome, November 21, 1863
Sir: I confidently trust
that my Nos. 66 and 67, giving detailed accounts of my audience with the
sovereign pontiff and of my interview with the cardinal seceratary of state,
will have been in your possession some days previous to the arrival of
this. Lest, however, they may have
been delayed on their way to their destination, I will state that my reception
at the Vatican was cordial in the broadest sence of the word, and that my
mission has been as successful as the President could have possibly desired it to be.
On the 19th I had a second interview with Cardinal Antonelli. I intended it to be of short duration, but he became so much interested in the communications which I made to him that he prolonged it for nearly an hour. He took the occasion to inform me, at the commencement that the acting representative of the United States had obtained an interview of him the day before to remonstrate against the facilities afforded by the government of the holy see to "Rebels" for entering and abiding in Rome; and that he, the cardinal, promptly replied that he intended to take such "Rebels" under his special protection, because it would be making exactions upon elevated humanity which it was incapable of concientiously complying with, to expect them to take an oath of allegiance to a country which they bitterly detested. I may add, in this connection, that such passports as you may issue will receive the visa of the nuncio at Paris or Brussels, and that there is now nowhere that the nationality of a citizen of the Confederate States is not as much respected as that of the United States except in the dark hole of the North of Europe.
We have been virtually, if not practically, recognized here. While I was in the foreign office the
day before yesterday, foreign ministers were kept waiting for a considerable
length of time in the antechamber in order that my interview might not be
disturbed. Frequently the cardinal
would take my hand between his and exclaim: "Mon cher your government has
accomplished prodigies, alike in the cabinet and in the field."
Antonelli is emphatically the State. He is perhaps the very best informed
statesman of his time. His channels
for obtaining intelligence from every quarter of the earth are more multifarious
and reliable than even those of the French. His worst enemies accord to him
abilities of the very highest order.
They say that he is utterly unscrupulous as to the means which he
employs, but that no other man could have saved the temporal power of the
Pope. He is bold, courageous,
resolute, and is a great admirer of President Davis, because he is distinguished
by those qualities, qualities which, if supported by good judgement, will, in
his opinion, ever win the object to which they are devoted.
Of course I can form no conjecture when the letter of his holiness to the
President will be ready for delivery.
Weeks, perhaps months, may elapes first. With my explanations to him upon the
subject of slavery, I indulge the hope that he will not allude, hurtfully to us,
to the subject. As soon as I
receive it I will endeavor to prevail with him to have the correspondence
published in the official Journal here, or to give me permission to bring it out
in the Paris Moniteur. Its
information would be powerful upon all the Catholic governments in both
hemispheres, and I would return to Brussels and make an appeal to King Leopold
to exert himself with Great Britain, Prusia, etc., in our behalf. Thus I am exceedingly hopeful that
before spring our independence will be generally acknowledged. Russia alone will most probably stand
aloof until we are recognized by the North, as she has now, at least ostensibly,
identify her fortunes with that distracted and demon-like division of the old
So far my mission has not found its way into the newspapers. I wish to keep it secret in order that
the publication of the letters may, from the unexpectedness, cause a salutary
sensation everywhere when it occurs.
I have reason to believe that what I have said in high places in relation to Irish emigration to New York were words in season.
I have the honor to be sir, very respectfully, your obedient
A. DUDLEY MANN.
Hon. J. P.
State, C. S.
A., Richmond, Va.
No. 69.] Rome, December 9, 1863
Sir: The cardinal secretary of state, Antonelli, officially transmitted to me yesterday the answer of the Pope to the President. In the very direction of this communication there is a positive recognition of our government.
It is addressed "to the Illustrious and Honorable Jefferson Davis, President of ther Confederate States of America."
Thus we are acknowledged, by as high an authority as this world contains, to be an independant power of the earth.
I congratulate you, I congratulate the President, I congratulate his cabinet; in short, I congratulate all my true-hearted countrymen and countrywomen, upon this benign event. The hand of the Lord has been in it, and eternal glory and praise be to His holy and righteous name.
The document is in the latin language, as are all documents prepared by
the Pope. I can not incure the risk
of its capture at sea, and, therefore, I shall retain it until I can convey it ,
with entire certainty, to the President.
It will adorne the archives of our country in all coming time.
I expect to receive a copy of it in time for transmission by the steamer
which carries this (via New York) at Nassau.
I shall leave here by the 15th instant, and will proceed to Paris and
from thence to Brussels and London.
The example of the sovereign pontiff, if I am not much mistaken, will exercise a salutary influence upon both the Catholic and Protestant governments of western Europe. Humanity will be aroused everywhere to the importance of its early emulation.
I have studiously endeavored to prevent the appearance of any telegraphic
or other communications in the newspapers in relation to my mission. The nature of it, however, is generally
known in official circles here, and it has been mentioned in one or more
journals. The letters, in my
opinion, ought to be officially published at Richmond, under a call for the
correspondence by the one or the other branch of Congress. In the mean time I shall communicate to
the European press, probably through the London Times, the substance of those
I regard such a procedure as of primary importance in view of the
interests of peace, and I am quite sure that the holy father would rejoice at
seeing those interests benefited in this or any other effective manner.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectively, your obedient
A. DUDLEY MANN.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
State, C. S. A.., Richmond,
December 12, 1863
Sir: Herewith I have the
honor to transmit the copy sent to me yesterday of the orginal, in Latin, of the
letter of the sovereign pontiff to President Davis. I have taken a duplicate of it. A period of more than a week elapsed
between the date of the letter and the delivery of the copy.
I shall repair to Paris immediately where, after conferring with Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason (from each of whom I have just received the kindest of letters), I shall proceed to Brussels. After a stay there of a day or two, I shall go to London. The Christmas season will be a propitious period for exciting the sympathies of the British public in behalf of the sublime initiative of the Pope. The people of England are never better in heart than during the joyous anniversary of the birth of Him whose cause was "Peace on earth, good will toward men."
Strange to say, a recent
number of the Court Journal of London contains one of the most beautiful
encomiums ever written upon the eminent purity of character of his Holiness.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient
A. DUDLEY MANN.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
State, C. S. A.., Richmond, Va.
Illustrious and honorable sir,
We have lately received with all kindness, as was meet, the gentlemen sent by your Excellency to present to us your letter dated on the 23d of last September. We have received certainly no small pleasure in learning both from these gentlemen and from your letter the feelings of gratification and of very warm appreciation with which you, illustrious and honorable sir, were moved when you first had knowledge written in October of the preceding year to the venerable brethren, John, archbishop of New York, and John, archbishop of New Orleans, in which we again and again urged and exhorted those venerable brethren that because of their exemplary piety and episcopal zeal they should employ their most earnest efforts, in our name also, in order that the fatal civil war which had arisen in the States should end, and that the people of America might again enjoy mutual peace and concord, and love each other with mutual charity. And it has been very gratifying to us to recognize, illustrious and honorable sir, that you and your people are animated by the same desire for peace and tranquility, which we had so earnestly inculcated in our aforesaid letters to the venerable brethren above named. Oh, that the other people also of the States and their rulers, considering seriously how cruel and how deplorable is this intercine war, would receive and embrace the councels of peace and tranquility. We indeed shall not cease with most fervent prayer to beseech God, the best and highest, and to implore Him to pour out the spirit of Christian love and peace upon all the people of America, and to rescue them from the great calamities with which they are afflicted. And we also pray the same most merciful Lord that he will illumine your Excellency with the light of His devine grace and unite you with ourselves in perfect charity.
Given at Rome at St.
Peters on the 3d December, 1863, in the eighteenth year of our Pontificate.
PIUS P. P. IX. Illustrious and Hon. JEFFERSON DAVIS,
Click here to go to Extreme Oath of Induction
Back To Black Pope Index
Back to Index of the Book