Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward

No. 257.]

Sir: The tragic tidings from Washington of the assassination of the President, and murderous assault upon the Secretary of State, has caused a deep impression here of horror and indignation at the cowardice and cruelty of the confederate plotters. Following so rapidly upon the excitement created by our late victories, and the public demonstrations on account of them, the announcement has aroused unusual agitation in this city, and through the country.

The King, from his sick bed, sent to me one of his aides-decamp, Major General Boarman, to express in his name his deep feeling at this tragic event, and for the great loss we have sustained. The minister of foreign affairs and the other members of the cabinet, the president of the House of Representatives, the high dignitaries of the court, most of the foreign legations, and a very large number of persons of every rank and station, have come personally to offer their condolence, and to express their horror at this crowning atrocity of the rebellion.

M. Rogier informed me he had sent a despatch to the Belgian chargé d’affaires at Washington to offer directly to the government the expression of their sympathy at the sad event. Immediately on receipt of Mr. Adams’s telegram I addressed a circular to our consuls, of which I annex a copy.

The shock caused by this news is too great to permit me to appreciate calmly its influence on public sentiment touching our affairs abroad. It cannot fail, I think, to cause a far-reaching reaction in the sympathies heretofore entertained by the so-called “better classes” in Europe for the rebels and their cause, and to stimulate, on the other hand, a more friendly feeling toward us and the cause of the Union.

The fact that the confederate loan at the London exchange yesterday rose 3 per cent. upon the news is a significant indication of the effect which the instigators of this dreadful crime imagined it would have upon their cause.

The calm transition of the executive power to other hands at Washington, contrasted with what would be likely to occur on a similar occasion in most European states, cannot but help to strengthen the conviction already becoming general by the influence of the success which has crowned this trial under the strain of the rebellion of the power, fitness, and durability of our system of government.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


Sir: Another dreadful crime has signalized the slaveholders’ rebellion. After having been marked by barbarities which could only emanate from the influence of a barbarous cause, its overthrow has culminated in a crowning atrocity; the President, whose assassination was attempted through the same influences at the outset, has been murdered; a merciful God has weakened the arm of the assassin, who sought to murder, in his sick bed, the Secretary of State, and add another affliction to the country, another foul crime against society.

Elevated by his own worth from the humblest sphere to a position of power and responsibility unequalled in the world, Abraham Lincoln has given to mankind a rare example of unselfish patriotism, integrity, and singleness of purpose, in working for the country’s good and carrying out the behests of the people. The denomination of “honest,” which popular sentiment had affixed to his name, will pass to history, as his well-earned distinction with that of patriot and martyr. What a bright example he leaves for those who follow after him!

[Page 82]

Providence spared him to see the virtual accomplishment of the great work to which he had been called; the rebellion and slavery, its cause, are at an end; and the Union is not alone preserved, but has gathered new strength and vitality as a nation. Thank God, its safety or peril can depend on the life of no one man; its government is but an emanation of the popular will, and the passing away of the elect of the people at another time than the limit of his presidential term can cause no perturbation in the state. The people remain, and their will is continued by his successors.

Called upon to mourn the death of a great and good man, and the loss of an eminent Chief Magistrate, I have to request you to display your flag on the day, and for the three following days, after the receipt of this communication, at half-mast; also, that you will cause the masters of the American shipping in your port to hoist their flags for the same period at half-mast.

I have further to request that you wear the usual band of mourning for thirty days.

Respectfully, yours,


To United States Consul at Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Liege.