Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward .


No. 4.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of several despatches addressed to Mr. Burlingame, among them Nos. 123, 126, and 128, enclosing military circulars to the United States ministers in London and Paris; of No. 121, acknowledging receipt of rules for consular courts in China; of No. 125, referring to Mr. Walsh’s notes upon steam communication between China and California; and of No. 127, being Mr. F. W. Seward’s circular of April 10 respecting the sad accident which happened to you a few days previous, and from which I am happy to learn that you are likely to recover. * * *

Since my last the mail has brought full accounts of the lamentable assassination of our beloved President, and I have taken the telegraphic despatch of the Secretary of War, of April 16, to Mr. C. F. Adams, at London, which appeared in the English papers, as containing the principal facts, and have notified the Chinese government of this sad event. Prince Kung responded in a friendly spirit. Previous to this I had informed the Chinese officials of all the details then known respecting the occurrence.

The telegraph brought the first notice to Peking via Russia in forty days, but nearly a fortnight elapsed before further news arrived to induce us to believe that such a horrid deed could have been committed in the United States.

The contentment and joy caused by the previous news of the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee’s army, foretokening the cessation of arms and final suppression of the rebellion and restoration of the Union, were turned into grief and indignation at learning that the President had been thus removed. All [Page 42] the Americans in Peking alike mourned his death, and all we could do was to pray that God, who had brought the nation to see the triumph of its arms against treason, would strengthen the national cause by leading to the adoption of those plans which would best Uphold justice and best promote union.

The limits of a despatch will hardly allow me more than to add my tribute of admiration to the character of Mr. Lincoln. His firm and consistent maintenance of the national cause, his clear understanding of the great questions at issue, and his unwearied efforts while enforcing the laws to deprive the conflict of all bitterness, were all so happily blended with a reliance on Divine guidance as to elevate him to a high rank among successful statesmen. His name is hereafter identified with the cause of emancipation, while his patriotism, integrity, and other virtues, and his untimely death, render him not unworthy of mention with William of Orange and Washington.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, Washnigton.