Congratulatory address to President Lincoln


To his Excellency Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States of America:

Honored Sir: We, the undersigned citizens of Switzerland, avail ourselves of the occasion of the news of the termination of the American war to congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts upon the reconstruction of the Union.

One hundred years have not yet elapsed since the American nation, by her first war of independence, laid the foundation of her democratic and republican liberty. The fruit of her victory was the winning of a whole continent for the republic, and the proclamation of the great sentiment of human rights which soon spread itself over all Europe By the victorious termination of her second war the people of America have also practically restored to life the rights of man, and established by their acts that man shall be neither lord nor slave, but that all men are horn to be free.

But not only this: while destroying slavery and restoring to the oppressed black race their rights, the American people have also saved the white race. They have destroyed the fundamental elements of a rising aristocracy which attempted to propagate the principle of oppression upon both sides of the ocean, and which would have substituted privilege for popular self-government, and despotism for democracy. The triumph of the Union has shown that democracy is not a vain idea but a real truth, and that the nations also are born to be free.

Of all the nations of the globe none is more entitled or more qualified to recognize this than the Swiss. Switzerland is the oldest existing republic in the civilized world, and liberty and equality of all her citizens her vital air. Well might the monarchists and aristocrats of Europe, even those professing to be liberal, have doubted the triumph of the North, and even secretly wished its defeat Free Switzerland was aware that the struggle there going on was for the cause of free labor and of the democratic republic, and that their champion, the North, must finally triumph.

Of all the nations, also, none has more occasion for rejoicing at the triumph of the North. Surrounded from all sides by great monarchies, where liberal ideas are undergoing a doubtful struggle, Switzerland is like an oasis, and without friendly sympathizers in Europe. She is strong enough, it is true, to defend herself, and by her example to encourage others; but she is too weak to guide the fortunes of Europe upon the republican track.

Across the ocean, however, now stands, new-born, a powerful, great republic, superior to any enemies. By their own inherent power the American people have themselves overcome the evil of which all the glorious republics of old have perished, and which threatened her also with destruction. Recovered, there she now stands forever an example and a rock of liberty. The republic has established herself forever in the history of the world. Who will now deny that a republic can maintain herself with great nations?

This triumph is a historical fact—a fact for all mankind; for there can be no doubt that this truth will not fail to send its lustre over to us. As the deliverance of the Union from a foreign yoke has driven its waves towards our continent [Page 561] with irresistible sway, so will also the surge of her regeneration reach the European shores.

All those who are in favor of despotism and slavery have received the news of the fall of Richmond with a secret feeling of alarm; while all free hearts beat stronger in the heightened hope that the cause of liberty must triumph also in Europe. Of all, however, Switzerland rejoices the most; for to her the triumph of the North is a pledge that the republic will never perish, but take deeper root.

This is the reason for our lending a most emphatic expression to the sympathy which we have invariably cherished for the feeling. No feeling of hatred towards the succumbed tarnishes our congratulation; while we are convinced that the government will follow up its triumph by firmness in matters of principle and magnanimity towards the subdued, to the complete political reconstruction of the Union. We declare our full, emphatic sympathy with the principles of democratic self-government and free labor, which have gained new ground in the Union; with the men who have, in the true spirit of these principles, led her stars; with the genuine democratic statesman, Abraham Lincoln, so dear to Switzerland; with the brave federal army and her excellent leaders; and, finally, with the noble American people, who have triumphed over their enemies and over themselves.

The motto between the two sister republics shall be, forever: “The cause of democracy and of the republic must triumph!”