Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward

No. 111.]

Sir: The receipt of a telegram from London on Friday last announcing the assassination of President Lincoln, and an attack on your own life, produced a great excitement in this country. A universal sentiment of indignation and of horror for such a crime against such a man as our late President, at the moment when the shouts of our victorious armies proclaimed that he had saved the country, and had won the respect and admiration of the world, by the successful issue of the struggle he had directed against that foe alike of humanity and American liberty and Union—southern slavery—was expressed by all the various nationalities of this capital.

The half-masted flag on the legation had hardly been raised before my colleagues of the diplomatic corps called to express their sympathies for our national loss. The society of Italian workmen delivered me the enclosed address of condolence, and the subjects of the Hellenic government in large numbers yesterday repaired to my residence to express their grief for such a calamity. Several of [Page 288] their number addressed the crowd In their native Greek, and in reply to a formal discourse from the chairman of the committee, I delivered to the assembled people the enclosed reply. In recognition of such a friendly act, I caused the Greek flag to be raised above the half-masted American flag. The spectacle of these two flags, of the two most intensely liberty-loving people in the world, floating together in kindred sympathy on the same staff, created a deep sensation among the passing crowds.

It gives me a melancholy pleasure to refer to these incidents as showing how widespread was the fame achieved by President Lincoln, and how earnest was the admiration felt for the services he had rendered to his race and to his country, even in this remote corner of Europe.

I cannot be mistaken, for I see and feel it all around me, in predicting that this assassination, be the motive what it may, will produce important political consequences throughout Europe, and will arouse and stimulate the friends of liberty to new efforts against despotism and arbitrary power.

The assassin’s hand has consecrated the life and death of President Lincoln. He fell a victim to his devotion to the cause of liberty and human rights, and he will take his place in history among the martyrs whom universal humanity honors as its benefactor.

Lest there should be some apprehension relative to the qualifications of President Johnson to the high office, to the duties of which he has been called, I caused to be published in the journals of this city the excellent biographical sketch of his excellency contained in Appleton’s American Encyclopedia. This memoir, reciting, as it does, in detail his public life—his long and honorable career as governor of Tennessee, and in the legislature of that State, and in both branches of the federal Congress, and his tried loyalty to the Union—made a most favorable impression on the public mind and gave a correct understanding of the capacity and services of the present head of the United States government.

I cannot conclude this despatch without expressing my fervent prayer that the life of Secretary Seward may be spared, and that by the favor of Almighty God he may recover from the wounds under which he is suffering. Never were his services to his country more evident than now, and never was there such a general concurrence in the opinion, both among strangers and Americans, of the immense importance of your excellency’s life to the dearest interests of the American people.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

By this or the succeeding mail I will transmit the proceedings of the American residents, in meeting convened at my residence, relative to the death of President Lincoln.

N. B. The address from foreign bodies referred to in the above will be furnished in the next mail.