Mr. Morris to Mr. Hunter

No. 114.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of despatch No. 87, and the circular containing the official announcement of the assassination of President Lincoln. In a previous despatch I referred at large to the universal feeling of horror and indignation which such a monstrous crime had produced among all classes of the population of this capital. No human event, it seems to me, could inspire a deeper and more widespread sense of sorrow and abhorrence than such a crime against such a man. President Lincoln’s course of action, during his four years’ term of office, had been so honorable to himself and so useful to his country, that he had won even the respect of the enemies of the noble cause he championed. He lived long enough to refute the calumnies of his foreign assailants, and to confound the wicked schemes of domestic traitors. His steady perseverance in the course of right, his unshaken faith in ultimate success, and the stern loyalty he exhibited to the Constitution, astonished the European world, and enforced its admiration of one of the grandest exhibitions of moral courage and of the conscientious discharge of duty to be found in ancient or modern history. He has descended to the tomb with an untarnished fame, and honored alike by the kings and people of Europe, and the citizens of republican America.

Since my last despatch a deputation has called on me on the part of the [Page 291] American church and nationality to express their condolence, and their hopes that slavery, the cause of all our woes, will be forever eradicated in the United States. This delegation consisted of three of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries of the American church.

Enclosed will be found copies of despatches to the United States consuls at Bey rout and Smyrna, to which I respectfully call attention, Their main object is to disabuse the public mind of any erroneous impressions as to the character and qualifications of President Johnson. I am pleased to say that the elevated and rare traits of character which distinguished President Johnson, and his eminent capacity for the high trusts devolved upon him, are now beginning to be appreciated, and the European public are conscious that the destinies of the United States are guided by a firm and vigorous mind, which cannot be intimidated by any array of difficulties, and which is equal to any emergency. Energy, force of will, inflexible patriotism, and high moral courage, are the characteristics now ascribed to President Johnson, and they are producing a most salutary feeling of respect and regard for the nation over which he presides. Among Americans unlimited confidence is entertained in President Johnson, and the assurance is cherished that his administration will be a fitting sequel to that of his illustrious predecessor.

I respectfully suggest the propriety of giving publicity, through the press,to the addresses of felicitation and of sympathy made to me on the part of theHelenic Greeks of Constantinople. That of sympathy is full of eloquentfeeling, and does such honor to the generous people for whom it speaks, that Iventure to express the opinion that it ought be spread before the American republic.* * * * *

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William Hunter, Acting Secretary of State.

(For enclosure see Appendix, separate volume.)

Address of felicitation of the Hellenic Greeks of Constantinople to Hon. E. Joy Morns, United’ States minister, April 27, on the victories which secured the overthrow of the pro-slavery rebellion and established the American Union.


Honored representative of the American people and government under the Presidency of the great citizen Lincoln:

The descendants of Plato have assembled before the residence of the respected representative of the glorious American republic to congratulate him on the victories which have saved his country.

When a hydra-headed rebellion was menacing the existence of the Union, with painful anxiety we watched the progress of the struggle, and our prayers were offered up to God for a brave people contending for national existence against domestic treason and foreign intrigues.

Fearful as was the conflict, our hopes of ultimate triumph for the cause of Union and liberty were based upon our confidence in the intelligence and patriotism of the descendants of Washington, and in the wisdom and heroic firmness of President Lincoln, who, at this critical period, directed the destinies of the nation.

We were not mistaken. The cause of humanity triumphed, because the American people appreciated the great issues at stake, and with a sacrifice of blood and treasure unparalleled in history, on the fields of battle saved their menaced institutions of free government from destruction. Noble example of patriotic devotion, worthy of honor wherever public virtue is esteemed and love of freedom is cherished!

The last American struggle must be inscribed with golden letters in the annals of history, for it was a battle for the dearest rights of man. All mankind participate in the benefits of [Page 292] the victory achieved, and from all parts of the world the thanks of sympathizing millions ar tendered to the American people for the constancy and valor through which the cause of right was finally crowned with success.

Accept, honored sir, the heartfelt congratulations of the Greeks of Constantinople, and may God inspire other nations to a similar exhibition of heroic virtue when their liberty and independence are assaulted.

Translation, from the original French, of the reply of Mr. E. Joy Morris, United States minister, to the above address of felicitation of the Hellenic Greeks of Constantinople.

With mingled emotions of joy and grief I receive this imposing manifestation of the Hellenics of Constantinople towards my country and its illustrious chief, the late President Lincoln. I rejoice that the character and actions of that great man are so justly appreciated and so affectionately revered by the intelligent community you represent. It is another proof of the fidelity of the Greek people to the glorious traditions of their history, that the same love of liberty which distinguished them in antiquity yet exists, and that everywhere, where there is a struggle between the spirit of liberty and despotism, their suffrages are on the side of those who are the champions of the natural rights of man.

It is from your ancestors, Hellenic Greeks, that we have inherited our passion for liberty. The history of Leonidas, with his three hundred Spartans, perishing willing victims for the safety of their country at Thermopylæ; that of Miltiades and Themistocles upon the plain of Marathon and the Gulf of Salamis, repelling the invaders of Greece, not by the force of numbers, but by the force of an invincible courage, is taught in our schools as a lesson of sublime patriotism.

Honor to a people who, after the lapse of twenty-five centuries, yet preserve in their hearts that sacred fire which rendered their ancient heroes immortal!

The terrible conflict which is about terminating in the United States was a struggle between the two opposite principles of liberty and slavery. To promote the interests of the latter, an attempt was made to destroy the American Union and to erect on its ruins a government the corner-stone of which was to be human slavery. By the favor of God, the man most capable of meeting such a crisis in this emergency was at the head of the nation. He was a man pure in his morals, of irreproachable integrity, and one who loved his race and country with equal affection. In defending the Constitution, he knew that he was defending an instrument of government in the preservation of which all mankind had a common interest with us. He comprehended in all its proportions the great part which God had given him to perform, and, before Heaven and earth, he proved that he was equal to the task imposed on him.

At the moment when the shouts of victory were rising from all the fields of battle, when the flag of liberty was again being raised on the towers and forts from which it had been sacrilegiously torn down four years ago, the President fell beneath the arm of an assassin. Fearful crime to kill such a man! Supreme folly, to choose such a moment for so infamous a deed. He had accomplished his mission; he had saved his country and had gained a place in the temple of glory where he will always be honored as one of the benefactors of humanity. The assassins of liberty and of its champions merit and receive in history an eternal execration.

The Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, who had so ably seconded the efforts of the President, and who, by his great capacity, had so wisely represented the nation abroad in his diplomatic writings, was also destined to be a victim. We implore an all-merciful God that his life may be spared, that he may contribute by his sagacious intellect to the consolidation of the republic which is now rising so majestically, unchanged inform and unharmed in strength, from so many fields of battle.

In the name of the American people, I thank you, Hellenics, for this enthusiastic demonstration of regard for my country and its savior, and for your wishes that the republic of the United States of America may continue to exist in the future, as in the past, the boulevard of modern liberty and the pioneer of human progress.

Adieu, Hellenics, and may the Greek and American flags which float united above our heads be a symbol of that fraternity of heart that exists between two people who have the same sympathies and the same aspirations.

Mr. Morris to Mr. Johnson

Sir: You have no doubt already received information of the assassination of President Lincoln, and of the attempt on the life of Secretary Seward, through the telegraph and the State Department. These dreadful deeds have aroused a feeling of horror and indignation throughout all Europe, and have betrayed to the world the fiendish passions engendered by the institution of slavery. It seems in the order of human events that no great humanitarian revolution can be accomplished without the sacrifice of some illustrious victim. Men offer [Page 293] up their lives on the scaffold for the benefit of their race, and others risk life and fortune, and all that endears them to existence, to further the cause of human rights. Great social and political evils cannot be uprooted without commotions that shake the world by their violence.

Certainly there never occupied the post of a ruler of a country a man who had less bitterness in his heart towards his fellow-men than President Lincoln, or one who was more genial in his nature, more tolerant to his enemies, and more just in his political conduct. The only offence he committed was that of being loyal to his country when others were false to her; of saving the republic when menaced by destruction. God, in his mercy, permitted him to live till he had baffled the schemes of the conspirators and had established the Union in its original integrity. His glory the dagger of the assassin cannot take away. It will live immortal in history and endear his name to the remotest generations of American freemen.

Had not the plans of the conspirators failed for want of unity of action, we should have had to mourn the deaths of the Vice-President and all the members of the cabinet. Their diabolical malignity aimed at paralyzing the government by a temporary anarchy of rule, thus hoping to create a widespread disorder and confusion.

President Johnson I believe you know. I knew him from six years since in Congress, when he was a member, and I know him to be a man of the utmost firmness of character and force of will, and to be possessed of a moral courage that renders him equal to any emergency. Amidst bad examples around him and the temptations incident to southern life, he has always been distinguished for exemplary habits of life. If there has been any deviation from these habits it is exceptional and not characteristic of the man, and no doubt induced by accidental causes. I have unlimited confidence in him from my own personal knowledge and observation, and I beg that you will refer to me when speaking to your colleagues of his capacity and character. How long I may continue to serve the government under him I know not, and shall take no steps to interfere with the free exercise of the judgment of the President in relation to the incumbent of this post; but as an American citizen I deem it my duty to aid in dispelling serious misapprehensions as to his character and capacity. He will be traduced and calumniated, as his predecessor was, because he is the President of a republic in the overthrow of which every enemy of human liberty has an interest, and every hour of whose existence gives the lie to the necessity of despotism and arbitrary power as instruments of government.

I rejoice to be able to inform you that the Secretary of State and his son are in a fair way of recovery, and that their assailant has been arrested with several of his accomplices.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


J. A. Johnson, Esq., United States Consul, Beyrout.