Mr. Campbell to Mr. Seward .


No. 17.]

Sir: On the evening of the 26th of April a telegram from the embassy of the United States in London was received at this legation, announcing the death, by assassination, of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States; also an attack upon the life of the Secretary of State, resulting in injuries so severe as to render his recovery doubtful.

Overwhelmed with horror by these woeful news, which were already in circulation in Stockholm, inspiring grave misgivings and vague fears in the minds of many friends of the republic who but imperfectly understood her organization, I deemed proper on the following morning to announce to the department of state and of foreign affairs of Sweden and Norway the facts of the death of the President of the United States of America, and the installation of his constitutional successor in executive office. At the same time I communicated to Count Manderström, the afflicting intelligence of the condition to which you, sir, had been reduced by a murderous attack.

The prompt and sympathetic response of his excellency displays a warmth of emotion unusual in official papers, and is in harmony with the reprobation and horror felt by all classes of Swedish people.

These sentiments have sought expression at this legation in such varied forms as have deeply touched my heart, and caused me to feel that the blow dealt my beloved country by an assassin’s hand, is resented by all Christendom.

I have the honor to report the direct and marked action of the King, who commissioned the Count Axel Cronheilm, an officer of the royal staff, to visit the legation of the United States with messages of condolence, coupled with the strongest possible terms of detestation for the parricide, and assurances of the admiration entertained by him for the personal character and attributes of our lamented Chief Magistrate. These sentiments of sympathy for a mourning people, and reprobation for the crime by which they have been bereaved, were expressed in such feeling and earnest words, as were worthy of the noble heart of his Majesty, and must prove acceptable to the nation in whose behalf they were uttered. It was also the desire of the King that I would convey to him the earliest intelligence of your health, sir, as his Majesty felt the deepest interest in the preservation of a life so eminent and valuable.

In addition to the official communication from the department of state of [Page 548] Sweden and Norway, that most excellent gentleman, Count Manderström, in a personal visit and private notes, evinced such feelings as commands my gratitude.

In some of the ports the flags were at half-mast for the death of the President; the public journals spoke with appreciation of his life and death. * * The Swedish court has worn mourning for several members of royal houses in Europe during the past winter, but in no instance have I observed a popular tribute comparable with this. The members of the diplomatic corps in Stockholm have been instant in their tokens of sympathy, and the American residents here have sought at the legation such comfort and information, as might soothe their grief and allay their fears. The Baron Feysack and Lieutenant Anderson, gallant officers of Sweden, whose swords have been drawn in the service of the United States, came to offer their condolences to the country they had defended, as did also the Count Piper, formerly minister resident at Washington, and other distinguished Swedes. If the transmission of these details appear unnecessary, I find my excuse in the conviction that such tokens of sympathy in a remote land for their national grief, must be as acceptable to the American people as they have been to their representatives.

I may be suffered here to give utterance to my own emotions upon the dire calamity which has visited my country. The hand raised against the life of the President has inflicted a grievous wound upon every American heart; and in common with millions bereaved of their chief, I deeply feel the outrage perpetrated upon sacred national rights. With regard to Abraham Lincoln, whom I knew, and loved as a personal friend, I recognize with awe, that God’s instrument has been laid away in heaven’s armory. Remembering how, in the raging of political tornadoes he bore himself with the passionless calm of some grand abstraction, and, divested of prejudice or favor, devoted himself to the large ends of human freedom and national life, I feel that his death was the seal to the deeds of his life, and he closed his eyes on great purposes achieved to open them upon the immortal crown. To his country he leaves the rich legacy of a beneficent government preserved; the American ideal of liberty attained; and the noble record of the Christian life he lived, the patriot’s end he wrought, and the martyr’s death he died, to embellish her story.

Allow me to tender you, sir, my respectful sympathy for the mental and physical suffering you have sustained, and express most fervid thanksgiving to God, who in his mercy has spared a life so valuable to our country.

Praying for your speedy restoration to health, and usefulness,

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.