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 this woful news, which was already in circulation in Stockholm, inspiring grave misgivings and vague fears in the minds of the friends of the republic, who but imperfectly understood its organization, I deemed it proper, on the following morning, to announce to the department of state and of foreign affairs of Sweden and of 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. (A copy of my note is herewith enclosed, No. 1.) At the same time, I communicated to Count Manderstrom the afflicting intelligence of the condition to which you, sir, had been reduced by a murderous attack, (No. 2.)

The prompt and sympathetic response of his excellency displays a warmth [Page 197] of emotion unusual in official papers, and is in harmony with the reputation and horror felt by all classes of the Swedish people, (enclosures Nos. 3 and 4.)

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 earnest and feeling 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 Sweden and Norway, that most excellent gentleman, Count Manderstrom, in a personal visit, and private notes, (Nos. 5 and 6,) evinced such feeling 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 appears 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 representative.

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 ends he wrought, and the martyr’s death that he died to embellish her story.

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Allow me to tender you, sir, my respectful sympathy for the mental and physical sufferings you have sustained, and to express most fervent 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.

No. 1.

Mr. Campbell to Count Manderstrom

Sir: It becomes my painful duty to inform his Majesty’s government of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway of the contents of a telegram received by me last night, from the honorable Charles Francis Adams, envoy extraordinary, &c., of the United States of America near her Britannic Majesty.

Mr. Adams announces to me the melancholy intelligence that his excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, was assassinated whilst in his box at the theatre, in Washington.

To my country this is a terrible catastrophe, for the President was enshrined in the hearts and shared the confidence of his countrymen in a remarkable degree. The nature of the crime by which he perished shocks civilization, as it outrages humanity; but his death will not retard the restoration of national authority, nor arrest the functions of the government.

The Vice President, the honorable Andrew Johnson, has assumed the functions of President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Official despatches, containing the details of this most abhorrent crime, have not yet reached this legation.

Permit me to renew to your excellency on this sad occasion the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Count Manderstrom, Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs.

No. 2.

Mr. Campbell to Count Manderstrom

My Dear Sir: Whilst writing to inform you of the national calamity which has smitten my beloved country, the kind note of your excellency was handed me. My London telegram, elsewhere communicated, forbids indulging in the hope expressed by you that the facts are exaggerated.

A simultaneous attack was made upon the President at the theatre, and Mr. Seward in his sick-room, where he was confined by serious injuries occasioned by a fall from his carriage. His recovery is doubtful, but I trust that God in his providence will spare to his country this eminent statesman, who, in her season of tribulation, has served her with ability, and guided her with wisdom.

No further details of these sad events have reached me.

For the prompt communication of the Swedish telegram, and the ready sympathy accompanying it, receive my warmest thanks. I can well understand how the intelligence of this enormous crime will shock the Christian people of Sweden.

Repeating my grateful appreciation of the sentiments expressed by your excellency,

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


His Excellency Count Manderstrom, Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs.

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No. 4.

Count Manderstrom to Mr. Campbell.

Sir: I have received the official communication by which you have confirmed this morning the melancholy intelligence already in circulation yesterday evening, of the odious outrage to which the President of the United States fell a victim, on the evening of the 14th of this month.

I have thought it my duty to bring this overwhelming news immediately to the knowledge of my august Sovereign, and it is by his express order that I hasten to convey to you, sir, all the horror and profound regret with which it has inspired him. Not only the old and excellent relations which existed between the two governments, but the high esteem and the sincere consideration professed by the King for the noble character, and eminent qualities of the illustrious President who has been taken from a country to the welfare of which he was devoted, by the most atrocious crime, may easily explain the sentiments of just grief and sad sympathy with which the King is penetrated, and the reprobation with which his Majesty stamps a shameful assassination, directed by a parricidal hand against that good man.

This crime is aggravated by the infamous attack made upon the distinguished statesman confined to his bed of suffering, and who, wounded also in his most cherished affections, seems to leave us little hope of seeing him recover from his physical and mental anguish.

The King has charged me to beg you, sir, to testify to your government the sentiments entertained by him, and which, be assured, are shared by the two peoples united under his sceptre.

In giving utterance to the most sincere wishes that this frightful misfortune does not injure the United States of America, the government of the King expresses the hope of continuing with President Johnson the same relations of confidence and amity which have been maintained under the government of the illustrious President whose loss we so bitterly deplore.

In begging you, sir, to accept the expression of my most profound personal regret, I permit myself to add the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


Mr. Campbell, Minister Resident of the United States of America.

No. 5.

Count Manderstrom. to Mr. Campbell

Wednesday Evening.

My Dear Sir: It is with the utmost dismay I find in the evening papers a telegram from New York, of the 15th instant, to the following purport:

“President Lincoln has been shot by an assassin. He died to-day. A murderous attempt has been directed against Mr. Seward. His recovery is doubtful.”

This news is from Hamburg. I have received nothing to confirm them up to this hour. I hope it is an untrue, or at least exaggerated, report. Of course I will communicate to you what I receive.

You cannot doubt, my dear sir, the general sentiments of horror and indignation by which this awful news will be received in my country, and I beg to express to you the feelings of my most cordial sympathy.

I remain, my dear sir, with great truth and regard, yours, very truly,


Mr. Campbell, Minister Resident of the United States of America.

No. 6.

Count Manderstrom to Mr. Campbell

My Dear Sir: I hasten to communicate to you the following details transmitted from London yesterday evening, but which reached me only this morning.

It appears that President Lincoln was murdered in his box at the theatre; the assassin, whose name is Booth, jumped down from the box on the scene and effectually escaped. He went directly to Baltimore, and was apprehended there. It was the brother of Booth who made the attack upon Mr. Seward in his sick-room and wounded him dangerously. His son, Mr. Frederick Seward, hastening to help his father, was murdered on the spot.

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General Grant was to have assisted at the play, but was prevented by official business; this being mentioned, I suppose there was some plan laid against him.

Such a shocking series of atrocious crimes, up to this day never witnessed in your country, cannot fail to impress the minds of all good citizens and make them rally round the banner of order.

I reserve myself to answer officially to your note, but thought it my duty not to lose time in giving you all the details I have received.

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


Mr. Campbell, Minister Resident of the United States of America.