Mr. Robinson to Mr. Seward .
Lima, May 25, 1865.
Sir: The steamer of the 18th instant brought to us the astounding intelligence of the assassination of President Lincoln, so much honored and beloved by all the American people, and respected and esteemed wherever justice, humanity, and civilization have their advocates and defenders.
The announcement of this horrid tragedy was made by the telegraph from Callao immediately upon the arrival of the steamer of the English mail line, which entered the port with the American flag at the main at half-mast. The intelligence spread with electric rapidity, but its savage cruelty and horrid barbarism staggered belief, until the arrival of passengers in Lima with copies of the United States newspapers containing the particulars of the awful tragedy convinced us of its truth.
The feeling of indignation which the bloody and cowardly act excited was unanimous, pervading all classes, as was also the regret, that in this, the hour of their triumph over the wicked and atrocious rebellion, the people of the United States should lose their honored and revered chief, and civilization, justice, and religion a true, sincere, and devoted friend.
Thus has passed away, by the sullen and vindictive shot of the assassin, a statesman whose honest purposes and sincere devotion to his constitutional duties had triumphed over the dark and bloody conspiracies of treason, and had secured the re-establishment of law, order, and security. A martyr to the cause of humanity, he still, though dead, speaks to the hearts and affections of the American people in language more eloquent than words.
I received no official information of this deplorable event, but on the 19th instant I communicated to the minister of foreign relations the melancholy intelligence in an official note. On the same day I received a response from his excellency, expressing detestation of the crime, and the warmest sympathies of the Peruvian government with the American people for the loss they have sustained by this afflictive event.
On Saturday, the 20th, a committee of the Chilian citizens resident in this city waited upon me with a letter of condolence at this mournful occurrence and sympathy for the loss which the government of the United States and the cause of freedom had sustained. The letter was numerously signed, and contained earnest and honest expressions of grief.
I expressed to the committee my gratitude for the noble and generous sentiments of fraternal feeling contained in their note.
On the 23d I received from the president of the municipality of this city, General Antonio G. de la Fuente, a letter expressing the utter detestation of the members of that honorable corporation at the crime, and their profound grief for the loss sustained by the United States and the cause of freedom throughout the world.
In fact, all classes of individuals hastened to express to me their sympathies for our loss, and their utter abhorrence of the crime and the assassin. In Lima all the flags on the government houses, foreign legations, and consulates were displayed at half-mast for three days following the arrival of the news, and no token or manifestation of mourning was lacking to show that these expressions of grief were sincere, not only for us as a people, but for the cause, the most decided champion of which had become a martyr to his devotion to duty.
At Callao were the same manifestations of grief and sympathy. Immediately that the news became known in that city, although the steamer arrived late in the afternoon, the flags upon the government houses, the Peruvian and foreign ships-of-war, English and Spanish, were dropped at half-mast, and on the next day at noon the usual funeral salutes were fired from the United States [Page 517]steamer St. Mary’s, accompanied by the sad responses from the Peruvian, English, and Spanish ships-of-war then in port, and from the fort of the castle on shore.
I cannot conclude this despatch without tendering my own sympathy and that of the citizens of the United States resident here and in Callao, to the honorable Secretary of State, and expressing their horror at the crime attempted upon him and his son, and the earnest hope for a speedy recovery from their wounds.
The assassination of the President, and the attempted one of the head of the Department of State, exhibit a conspiracy at which civilization stands aghast, and which for the results it intended, as well as for its atrocity, cruelty, barbarism, and infamy, stands unapproached and unapproachable in the annals of history.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.