Mr. Clay to Mr. Seward

No. 132.]

Sir: Captain T. Morris Chester, late of the United States volunteer army, being in St. Petersburg, coming well recommended by distinguished citizens of the United States, and being also well educated and of good address, I called upon the minister of foreign affairs and told him that I would not apply in the usual way by note to have Captain Chester, a colored American citizen, presented to his Imperial Majesty, as there was no precedent, and I did not know how his Imperial Majesty would be disposed to act; but I desired that he would approach his Imperial Majesty, in an informal way, and ascertain his wishes in this regard. The assistant minister of foreign affairs, Mr. de West mann, acquiesced in the proposal, and in a few days wrote me that the Emperor had given orders to have Captain Chester’s name put upon the list of persons for the first presentation. To-day being the occasion of a grand review of the imperial guard, the Emperor sent an invitation to Captain Chester to assist in the review, which he did, riding around with his Imperial Majesty’s staff, and taking lunch at the winter palace with the staff officers and a portion of the imperial family, who accompanied the Emperor at the lunch.

I have made these facts known to you, as I regard the affair of some importance. We have four millions of colored citizens; they are with us, and of us, for good or evil. I think that it is the duty of all good citizens to try and elevate the African race in America, and inspire them, with all possible self-respect; and prepare them for that ultimate influence which they must sooner or later have upon the political and economical interests, of the United States. These are the views which have influenced my action in this case, which, not partisan in their character, I should hope would be satisfactory to all patriotic Americans.

Having, however, discharged my duty, as I ever do, without regard to personal considerations, I submit my action frankly to the judgment of the department.

I am, my dear sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.