Mr. Seward to Mr. Clay.

No. 30.]

Sir: Your despatch of January 7, in which you survey the condition of the country at home, as well as its relations abroad, has been received and submitted to the President.

There is, I fear, too much of truth and justice in the views of European sentiment which you present, as there is also in your estimate of the domestic trials and dangers through which we have to pass. But, on the other hand, the clear moral right, as well as no inconsiderable moral and material strength and power, are on the side of the Union. The sentiment of devotion to it, and the principle of making that devotion the great element of political action, happily every day gain intensity, as well as expansion, equally in Congress and among the people. The confidence of the government is built in some measure upon its plans of the campaign which is opening, and these plans cannot wisely be made known. I must be content, therefore, with assuring you that the doubts or fears which our representatives abroad continually present to us find no lodgement whatever in our own minds.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Cassius M. Clay, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

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Mr. Cameron to Mr. Seward.

No. 2.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I arrived here on the night of the 15th instant, and was received by Mr. Clay, who was awaiting my arrival. On Monday I made application for an interview with Prince Gortchacow, minister of foreign affairs, who appointed the following day (17th) at noon. In company with Mr. Clay I called upon the prince at the foreign office. He received me with cordiality, and in the course of our brief but very satisfactory conversation expressed his most earnest desire for the termination of our domestic difficulties. He informed me that the Emperor had removed his residence to his summer palace of Tzarsko-Selo, where my presentation to his Majesty would probably take place.

On the 19th, however, I received a note from the prince, stating that the Emperor would come to St. Petersburg and give me an interview at the winter palace on Tuesday, the 24th instant. This unexpected courtesy on his part was doubly agreeable, since it gave an assurance, in advance, of the special kindliness of his sentiments towards us. Shortly before the hour appointed, on the 24th, notice was sent to me that, on account of some private reason which prevented the Emperor from coming to St. Petersburg on that day, the audience was postponed until the 25th.

At noon, therefore, in company with Mr. Clay—whose audience of leave was appointed for the same time—and with Mr. Taylor, secretary of legation, I proceeded to the winter palace. We were conducted to the ante-room, adjoining the Emperor’s cabinet, where we were received by the grand chamberlain, Count Schouvaloff, and the master of ceremonies, Count de Eibeaupierre. Mr. Clay was first summoned to the imperial presence to deliver his letter of recall and take his official leave, after which I was presented to his Majesty. The remarks which I made on delivering to him my letter of credence are given, in substance, in the paper (A) accompanying this despatch. He listened to them with attention, interrupting me several times to express his hearty concurrence in my views. A conversation followed, which lasted for more than half an hour, and during which the Emperor, by his questions and observations, exhibited not only his profound interest in everything relating to our country, but his accurate knowledge of her present situation. He declared, frankly, that his sympathies had always been cordially with us; that he was very anxious the United States, as a nation, should suffer no diminution of power or influence; our interests and those of Russia were in many respects identical, and he was desirous to hasten, by all the means in his power, the progress of that telegraphic enterprise which will enable the two governments to communicate directly with each other. He referred to his efforts in regard to the emancipation of the serfs, and manifested a great interest concerning the solution of the question of slavery in the United States.

The Emperor was exceedingly plain, frank, and unostentatious in his demeanor. The unusual length of the interview, as well as unaffected earnestness and sincerity of his expressions, gave evidence that he desired to make a special manifestation of his friendship for our country and government. Both on entering and leaving his cabinet he gave me his hand with cordial familiarity. This practical experience of the good faith of those professions of sympathy with the United States which Russia now makes, as she has heretofore made—not only unimpaired but strengthened by the knowledge of our national trials—has afforded me the most profound gratification.

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At the close of the interview Mr. Bayard Taylor, secretary of legation, was presented to the Emperor.

Mr. Clay will leave for the United States as soon as he has had his audience of leave from the Empress and the other members of the imperial family.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


I am instructed by the President to convey to your Imperial Majesty the assurances of his desire to perpetuate the friendly relations which have so long existed between Russia and the United States.

In addition to our obligations for ancient evidences of friendship, he as well as our whole people feel an abiding gratitude for the prompt and cordial sympathy which we have received from your Majesty in our successful efforts to subdue an unnatural rebellion.

Knowing the exalted opinion entertained by the President of the United States, and by the American people, towards your Majesty, I could not but consider my appointment of minister to your court the highest honor which could have been conferred upon me.

No two governments in Christendom differ more widely in some respects than Russia and the United States, yet both seem best adapted to promote the happiness and prosperity of their respective people. Both are at present engaged in a social change, and have imposed upon them a national duty similar in character, and promising alike results equally vital and glorious to either nation.

This social change is the emancipation of labor, in effecting which your Majesty has so nobly led the way, and which the free masses of my own country are now so heroically emulating under the guidance of divine providence.

We believe that the peace as well as the material interests of all nations will be best subserved by the continuance of the power and prosperity of Russia in the Old World, and on the new continent by the perpetuity of the system adopted by the United States.

Let me assure your Majesty that recent events abundantly prove that my government is able to meet all exigencies, and to perform her whole duty to humanity. Her system does not admit of large standing armies in time of peace, but the promptitude with which her citizens came to the call of the President, and the existence of our present mighty army, prove that we shall never want soldiers to maintain our domestic security or to defend our national honor.

It is remarkable that Russia and the United States are the only two great powers of the world whose friendship can never be disturbed by rival interests. Your Majesty is extending civilization to the far east, while the people of my country are carrying the blessings of our government to the extreme west. In this mutual advance your telegraph will soon join ours, so that St. Petersburg and Washington may converse with each other without the wires being touched by unfriendly hands.

It will afford me unfeigned pleasure to represent my country in this spirit, and to take every proper occasion for drawing still closer the bonds of amity between the two nations.