Sir: I congratulate you upon your succession to the presidency of the United States of America, recently made vacant by the death of your illustrious predecessor, President Abraham Lincoln.
The distinguished position places you at the head of a great people, a nation whose exhibitions of valor, might, and power in war, during the four years just past, have struck the world with wonder and astonishment. They have astonished even the nation itself making them.
Identified as are the people of the republic of Liberia, over whose national affairs I am, in the providence of God, at present presiding, with millions of their race in America, and being so sensibly and gratefully impressed with a knowledge of the numerous favors directly and indirectly received from the United States government, first in their struggle to gain these shores from oppression, and then in their efforts to establish here a home and build up a negro nationality this side of the waters for themselves and their children after them, it were impossible for them to be indifferent to the grave events now taking place in that country.
They have been looking, and continue to look, with intense anxiety and concern upon those events. They have been duly impressed with just views of the great contest now going on in America between truth and error, between liberty and oppression, and have longed to see the contest cease, and a bright day of peace dawn upon that land, scattering far and wide the dark cloud which has for many years been hanging so portentously over it. They have ardently wished that both the originating cause of the unhappy civil discord now distracting a great people, and every circumstance contributing fuel to keep it at such heat and proportions as the world has witnessed and heartily lamented, could be forever done away.
These were some of their sincere desires and cherished hopes; and they were consoling themselves in the belief that they should soon realize them.
But when they received the distressing intelligence of the death of President Lincoln, that able Chief Magistrate, who had for four long, consecutive years, and under the severest mental anguish, been defending the cause of liberty, and endeavoring to open “the prison to them that are bound,” that the prisoners might go free, their hearts were saddened, and they could not suppress the deep sorrow they felt at so mournful and sad an event, and now more than before they sympathize with the American nation in the deep troubles it is at this time [Page 474] experiencing. They record their deep grief at the loss it has sustained in the death of so indulgent, kind, liberal, and fatherly chief as it found in President Lincoln, and I feel that I can assure you, sir, of the sympathy of these people of Liberia for yourself, and of their unfeigned hope that you will be fully sustained by the great God of nations in the execution of the mighty duties devolving upon you, and in the prosecution of the great undertaking now before you.
May you be greatly prospered by Him by whom “kings reign and princes decree righteousness,” and finally be crowned with honor in heaven which fadeth not away.
I am, sir, very respectfully yours,
His Excellency Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America.