From the Gazette de France


This crime, as may be supposed, has produced unutterable emotion and profound indignation in the United States. It is the first outrage committed against the federal authorities since the American republic was founded. America had not been previously dishonored by a political assassination.

Mr. Lincoln died a martyr for the cause of the Union, and it is impossible to foresee what will be the consequences of his death, under the present circumstances, as critical as they are solemn. By his firmness, by his good sense, and also, let us say, by the moderation with which he showed himself to be animated, especially since the decisive victory gained over the confederates, it is probable that Mr. Lincoln would have succeeded in mastering the situation, in calming excited passions, in pacifying the South, and in reconstituting the Union on conditions honorable to all. The task before him was full of difficulties, but everything encouraged the hope that he would solve that which stood in the way of pacification as successfully as he had surmounted the obstacles and dangers of war. The workman was more than ever necessary for the work which had to be carried out to a successful issue. He alone, perhaps, was able to inspire the southern States with sufficient confidence to treat of their submission with a feeling of security, for he had determined to hold out to them a friendly hand. He had so determined because he proposed to himself no other object than to restore the federal edifice on the basis of perfect equality, such as had been founded by Washington and Jefferson, the fathers of the American republic, and he renewed the engagement to do so three days before he fell from the ball of an assassin. It is certain that at that hour he alone had sufficient authority and influence to restrain the party to whom he owed his elevation to the presidency, and to bring it back to less hostile feelings towards the South, which that party desired to punish for its rebellion by treating it as a conquered country. Therefore, it is to be feared that in him the United States have lost more than an honest and able President. It is to be feared that the passions, instead of being calmed, will be excited afresh; that hatreds will be still more embittered; and that the South, seeing that it has henceforth to do with pitiless conquerors, will be guided only by despair, and renew the struggle. The worst solution that could be arrived at would be that which imposed on the South dishonorable conditions, and placed it in a state of inferiority and subjection to the North. The South might now, in consequence of exhaustion, bear the weight of these two chains, but it would not submit to them without impatience and anger, with the firm resolution to break them asunder as soon as [Page 121] they recovered their strength. The shadow of the Union thus built up again would be constantly threatened with dissolution. The United States would exhaust their strength in the efforts to maintain it, without being able to succeed.

To establish a durable and advantageous reconciliation, an appeal must be made to concord: the North must make up its mind to offer to the South, not the hand of revenge, but a fraternal hand. It is necessary that the treaty of peace should be ratified by unmistakeable evidence of a peaceful and forgiving disposition. That was Mr. Lincoln’s ambition; and Mr. Lincoln was equal to that patriotic task.