to Mr. Foster.
Washington, April 13, 1881.
Sir: Your No. 97, of the 18th ultimo, inclosing a communication from the Russian minister of foreign affairs in response to the proceedings of the Senate of the United States touching the death of the late Emperor, has been received, and by order of the President laid before the Senate.
The President desires, in a more formal and impressive manner than telegraphic communication, to convey to the Emperor the sentiments of respect and gratitude toward his father which animate the government and people of the United States. They can never forget the course pursued by the late Emperor toward this country when our national existence was imperilled by civil strife. The peculiar danger to which we were exposed from the intervention of European powers was keenly felt by all the intelligent friends of the Union. Though feeling equal to any emergency that might arise in the course of the appalling conflict, the Government of the United States realized that the contest would be rendered more desperate and more bloody if any of the great powers of Europe should espouse the cause of the insurrectionary States.
A dynasty, not now in power, but then ruling over a country in which the people have always been our friends, had resolved upon intervention if co-operation with other nations could be secured. This design, so fraught with danger to liberty and constitutional government on both sides of the Atlantic, was promptly met by the late Emperor with a refusal to take any unfriendly steps against the United States. Nor did his Majesty stop at merely declining to join a coalition adverse to us; he openly declared in our favor, and fearing, from what he knew of designs against us, that other powers might unwarily be drawn into a hostile attitude towards this country, the Emperor sent to the waters which both expose and protect our national capital a large and powerful fleet of war vessels as a proclamation to the world of his sympathy in our struggle and of his readiness to strike a blow on the side of the Union if any foreign power should strike a blow in aid of the insurrection.
In our happily reunited country, now contented and prosperous throughout all its borders, those who upheld the Union and those who were arrayed against it join in equal gratitude to the Emperor who aided in saving all our people from the embarrassment and danger of foreign intervention.
The Government of the United States does not recall these historical facts from a desire to awaken unpleasant recollections in any breast, but as a tribute to the memory of a sovereign whose great power, at a most important crisis, was exerted on the side of our Union, even at the risk of plunging his own empire into war.
The President requests that you will seek an audience with the Emperor and communicate these expressions of regard which the people of the United States have entertained for his father. Assure the Emperor that the government and people of this country abhor assassination, and can never see in it a remedy for political evils. There is no instance in history where an abuse has been corrected, a wrong righted, an oppression ameliorated, or a reform promoted, by assassination. The people of the United States have too fresh a recollection of a similar crime at home, and they know too well that assassination always strikes wildly and blindly, wilfully and wickedly.[Page 1015]
Congratulate the Emperor upon his accession to the throne, and, on behalf of the government and the people of the United States, extend to him the heartiest wishes for his success as a sovereign, and for the prosperity and happiness of the Russian people.
I am, sir, &c.,