Mr. Seward to Mr. Morris.
Sir: Your despatch of August 28 (No. 28) has been submitted to the President. It is a source of sincere satisfaction that the Turkish government has taken means to bring to just punishment the police officers through whose delinquency the assasins of the late lamented missionary, Mr. [Page 785] Merriam, made their escape, and it is still more gratifying that even several of the murderers have been arrested and are likely to receive the reward of their atrocious crime. Itis perceived that the position which you hold between the missionaries of our country, zealous in the work of their ministry, and the Turkish government, which, of course, is sensitive in any case of difference between those missionaries and their converts, on the one side, and Musselman subjects on the other, is a very peculiar and trying one.
The authority of this government, so long as our country remained undivided and harmonious, not only secured acquiescence at home but respect and concession everywhere abroad. Many of our citizens, still pursuing the same course of duty and of interest which they prosecuted so safely before the occurrence of the present insurrection, are unable to see how it is that they meet with obstacles heretofore unknown. Some of them complain that travel across our inland plains is suffered to be molested and interrupted, and that Indian massacres on our frontiers go unpunished. The Mormons assume an unfriendly and menacing attitude. Merchants importunately demand redress for injuries and insults alleged to be offered to them in the Spanish-American republics. Naturalized German emigrants invoke the protection of this government against conscription, experienced when they return to their native States. Claims on foreign countries are unheeded, and piratical vessels are entertained, while our own national vessels are denied the hospitalities guaranteed by treaties in some of the maritime states. The Turkish government becomes restless in view of the activity of our missionaries. The reason for all this is plain enough. We are divided and at war among ourselves. The division is not a peaceful quarrel, and the civil war is not a mild one. We have divided upon the question of fealty to our Constitution, to say nothing of freedom or slavery. The war thus far has been one of the greatest of human conflicts. All the world knows, even if we do not, that we cannot wage this war, on our part, with effect, and, at the same time, unnecessarily and rashly engage in wars with other nations which may deny us justice or withhold from us their accustomed respect. However it may be with our citizens, the government, at least, does not misunderstand the crisis. It knows that our enemies are not strangers, but those of our own household. That if we lose the national life every foreign interest must perish. While in saving the national life we shall recover the power of saving everything else at home or abroad that is valuable to us. But, to save the national life, we must refrain, as heretofore, from foreign controversies. The Turkish government has been singularly just and liberal towards us in this emergency. It deserves our forbearance and our friendship. But the government is far more enlightened than the people over whom it presides. The President thinks that much of the friendship manifested by the Turkish government towards the United States results from the discretion, gentleness, and frankness which you have hitherto practiced in executing your mission. He is content to recommend to you a perseverance in the same course.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,