[Translated from the Moniteur of March 2, 1865.]
Communication from the government.
The President. M. the minister president of the council of state has the floor for the purpose of presenting a communication from the government. [The house becomes attentive.]
His Excellency M. Vaitry, Minister President of the Council of State. Gentlemen of the senate: In pursuance of the orders of the Emperor, I have the honor to communicate to the senate the despatch addressed on the 28th of April last by M. the minister of foreign affairs to M. the chargé d’affaires of France at Washington on the occasion of the death of President Lincoln. This despatch reads as follows:
Paris, April 28, 1865.
Sir: The news of the crime of which M. le President Lincoln has fallen a victim has caused a profound sentiment of indignation in the imperial government.
His Majesty immediately charged one of his aides-de-camp to call upon the minister of the United States to request him to transmit the expression of this sentiment to Mr. Johnson, now invested with the presidency. I myself desired by the despatch which I addressed you under date of yesterday, to acquaint you without delay of the painful emotion which we have experienced, and it becomes my duty to-day, in conformity with the views of the Emperor, to render a merited homage to the great citizen whose loss the United States now deplores.
Elevated to the chief magistracy of the republic by the suffrage of his country, M. Abraham Lincoln exhibited in the exercise of the power placed in his hands the most substantial qualities. In him firmness of character was allied with elevation of principle, and his vigorous soul never wavered before the redoubtable trials reserved for his government.
At the moment when an atrocious crime removed him from the mission which he fulfilled with a religious sentiment of duty, he was convinced that the triumph of his policy was definitively assured. His recent proclamations are stamped with the sentiments of moderation with which he was inspired in resolutely proceeding to the task of reorganizing the Union and consolidating peace. The supreme satisfaction of accomplishing this work has not been granted him; but in reviewing these testimonials of his exalted wisdom, as well as the examples [Page 51] of good sense, of courage, and of patriotism which he has given, history will not hesitate to place him in the rank of citizens who have the most honored their country.
By order of the Emperor, I transmit this despatch to M. the minister of state, who is charged to communicate it to the senate and the corps legislatif. France will unanimously associate itself with the sentiments of his Majesty.
DROUYN DE LHUYS.
M. De Geofroy,
Chargé d’Affaires of France, at Washington.
I do not think, gentlemen of the senate, that this communication needs any commentary; it explains itself. I trust the senate will share the feelings of which the despatch which I have had the honor of reading contains the ready expression. In uniting together to brand with reprobation a horrible crime, the Emperor, the great bodies of the state, and France in its totality will give to the republic of the United States a fresh testimony of their sincere sympathy. [Loud approbation.]
The President. Gentlemen: In acknowledging the communication just made by M. the minister, I beg the senate will permit me to express in its name, a sentiment which, in its unanimity and energy, is equally felt by all. The senate felt a deep emotion at the news of the crime committed against the illustrious head of an allied nation. Mr. Lincoln, placed since 1861 at the head of the American nation, had passed through the most afflicting trials that could befall a government founded on liberty. It was at the moment when victory presented itself, not as a signal of conquests, but as the means of reconciliation, that a crime still obscure in its causes, destroyed the existence of that citizen, placed so high by the choice of his countrymen. Mr. Lincoln fell at the moment when he thought he was at the point of arriving at the term of the misfortunes by which his country was afflicted, and when he indulged in the hope of seeing it soon reconstituted and flourishing. The senate, which has always deplored the civil war, detests still more that implacable hatred which is its fruit, and which disgraces politics by assassination. There can therefore be but one voice in this body, to join in the ideas expressed by order of the Emperor, in the name of a generous policy and of humanity. [Approbation.]
I propose to the senate to decree that a copy of the minutes of the present sitting be officially transmitted to the minister of state. [Loud and prolonged approbation.]