No. 132.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 350.]

Sir: On the 25th instant, Mr. Edouard Lefebvre de Laboulaye died in Paris, at the age of seventy-two, of an attack of apoplexy following a protracted illness.

Mr. Laboulaye was a Senator, a member of the Institute, and a grand officer of the Legion of Honor. He was also administrator of the College of France, professor of international law at that celebrated institution, and a member of perhaps all the learned societies of Europe.

Among all his well-earned and well-deserved titles, there is one which gives him a special claim to the gratitude of the American people. He was a devoted friend of our country and our Government; although he had never crossed the ocean, he knew America and American history, I dare say, better than many Americans. For more than thirty years his mind had been directed towards the institutions of the United States, and he had made himself so familiar with them, and had mastered so completely our theory of government, that he had become a recognized authority in France and in Europe upon all matters bearing upon the American system and its true relation to the great moral and philosophical principles which govern the world. Every enterprise or scheme in which our people and country were concerned, found in him an unrelenting advocate, an actual and active co operator. He was president of the Franco-American Union which initiated the move for the erection in New York harbor of the statue of Liberty. He actively associated himself with the committee organized to promote a commercial treaty between France and the United States, and recently, though in bad health, he cheerfully consented to be, with Mr. De Lesseps, one of the presidents of the French commission to the exhibition of Boston.

Your telegram instructing me to express to the family of Mr. Laboulaye sentiments of condolence, reached me at the moment I was in receipt of the following letter, by which Mr. René Laboulaye, the second son of the deceased, informed me of the death of his father:


College de France,
Paris, May 25, 1883.

Mr. Minister: It is my painful duty to inform you of the death of my father, Mr. Édouard Laboulaye, Senator. He had the honor to count among his friends several [Page 269] of the most eminent men of the United States, and he had for your country a profound affection which he often expressed in his lectures, speeches and hooks.

We thought it our duty, Mr. Minister, to inform you officially of the death of one of the greatest friends of America.

I beg you to believe me, &c.,


Mr. Morton, Minister of the United States.

I replied as follows:

Legation of the United States,
Paris, May 26, 1883.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday, which confirmed the sad news of the death of Mr. Édouard Laboulaye, your father.

Upon learning the loss that you and all friends of republican principles have sustained, my Government, fully aware of what the United States owes to the eminent thinker who made himself in France the eloquent interpreter of American institutions, instructed me by telegraph to express its sentiments of condolence and lively sympathy; and it is a duty which I cannot fulfill without emotion, while thinking of the too short but agreeable relations that I had the honor to have with your father.

I thank you, sir, for having been so good as to inform me yourself of an event in which all Americans take so large a part, and I beg you to believe that my regret is shared by all my fellow-countrymen.

Accept, &c.,


The funeral of Mr. Laboulaye was attended by a large concourse of the most distinguished citizens of France, and was quite imposing, although very simple. I was present, with Mr. Vignaud, secretary of this legation, and many other Americans, at the services in the church and at the cemetery of Père la Chaise, where the body was interred in the family vault. If Mr. Laboulaye had not expressed the desire that no speeches should be made at the grave, I should have made a few remarks in testimony of the high opinion my countrymen entertained of the character of this great friend of their rights and liberties. But, as will be seen by the letter which I inclose herewith from Mr. Paul Laboulaye, the eldest of Mr. Laboulaye’s sons, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of France at Lisbon, the sympathies of our people and Government have been highly appreciated:


Paris, May 29, 1883.

Mr. Minister: I have received the letter in which you do me the honor to transmit to me, upon the death of my father, the sentiments of condolence and lively sympathy of the Government of the United States. My mother and my brother, to whom I have communicated the same, join me in begging you and the country that you represent, and of which you have been the interpreter, to accept the expression of our most heartfelt gratitude.

We consider the homage of which my father is the object one of the greatest that it is possible for a citizen to receive. A man’s life has not been spent in vain and his memory is particularly honored when he continues, after death, to be one of the links of that chain which binds together, across the ocean, two great nations, who, for more than a century, have been faithful to each other.

It is also with a profound gratitude that we thank you personally, Mr. Minister, for the part so sympathetic that you have taken in the last duties that the friends of my father have rendered to him.

Receive, &c.,


I have, &c.,