The European statesmen, declining intervention in our behalf, have, nevertheless, complimented our President by saying he has, at all events, “made a nation.” He is pleased with this, I understand. But it is one of the errors which the wise men over the water are ever liable to fall into. The “nation” was made before the President existed: indeed, the nation made the President.
We have rumors of fighting near the month of the Shenandoah, and that our arms were successful. It is time both armies were in winter quarters. Snow still lies on the ground here.
We have tidings from the North of the trinmph of the Democrats in New York, New Jersey, etc. etc. This news produces great rejoicing, for it is hailed as the downfall of Republican despotism. Some think it will be followed by a speedy peace, or else that the European powers will recognize us without further delay. I should not be surprised if Seward were now to attempt to get the start of England and France, and cause our recognition by the United States. I am sure the Abolitionists cannot now get their million men. The drafting must be a failure.
The Governor of Mississippi (Pettus) informs the President that a Frenchman, perhaps a Jew, proposes to trade salt for cotton — ten sacks of the first for one of the latter. The Governor says he don't know that he has received the consent of "Butler, the Beast" (but he knows the trade is impossible without it), but that is no business of his. He urges the traffic. And the President has consented to it, and given him power to conduct the exchange in spite of the military authorities. The President says, however, that twenty sacks of salt ought to be given for one of cotton. Salt is worth in New Orleans about one dollar a sack, cotton $160 per bale. The President informed the Secretary of what had been done, and sends him a copy of his dispatch to Gov. Pettus. He don't even ask Mr. Randolph's opinion.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 184-5