Mr. Fogg to Mr. Seward
Sir: The news of the capture of Richmond, which was received here by telegraph last Saturday, produced almost as much excitement as the same news must have produced in the various cities and villages of the United States. The enthusiasm of the people was nearly universal and quite irrepressible. Extras were issued from the offices of the leading journals, and within an hour the news was placarded all over the city. The satisfaction could hardly have been exceeded had the news been that of a great Swiss instead of an American victory.
The president of the confederation came to congratulate me on the great event. Other members of the government and leading citizens came. Telegraphic despatches came a little later from different and distant parts of Switzerland, from clubs, associations, and from individuals personally unknown to me, giving intelligence of the general joy at an event deemed of the greatest importance to the cause of liberty and liberal progress throughout Europe.
Up to this date we have few details, and know little beyond the general fact of “three days’ severe fighting” and the occupation of Richmond by Union troops. Of course we wait with great interest the news by the steamer which left New York the 8th, hoping to hear of the submission or dispersion of Lee’s army and a substantial close of the war. The event already announced is accepted in England and on the continent, equally by the enemies and friends of the American Union, as the end of the rebellion.
The same telegraph which brought the news of the fall of Richmond, fortunately for the financial interests of Europe, brought also the report of a “pacific” speech by yourself. For some cause not entirely easy to explain the idea had come to be almost universal among people, politicians, and journalists all over Europe, that the people and government of the United States, having got a taste of war, had become so in love with it, that as soon as they should have finished their own civil war, they would immediately pitch into England, a little later perhaps into France, and wind up by being ready to fight all the rest of the world.
People here in Europe, where armies are composed of trained soldiers, who are nothing but soldiers, cannot conceive what the United States can do with their immense military forces after the end of the present war, unless to employ them in a foreign war. Hence the feverish anxiety and general expectation to which I have alluded above.
The President’s inaugural did something towards dispelling this “fearful looking for of judgment.” But I would have been glad to hear him declare himself more explicitly; and I am glad to believe that you have done so.
Of all people in the world we shall, for a long time, have most need of peace with all nations, and least to fear from foreign aggression. With the immense exhibition of military and naval power we have made, we will be honored, feared, and respected as second to no nation on earth, and that without making any new demonstrations for one generation at least. And this fact of our pacific intentions cannot, in my judgment, be too promptly and emphatically declared.
Begging you to excuse this suggestion and congratulating the President, yourself, and the country on the great triumph that has been achieved, I have the honor to be, with the warmest esteem, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States of America.