Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 238.]

Sir: I deemed the proclamation of the 18th of December, announcing the termination of slavery in the United States, marked an event of such importance, in the social and political history of the world, as to justify me in bringing it formally to the notice of the Emperor’s government.

[Page 272]

I accordingly addressed to Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys the note, a copy of which and of his reply are enclosed.

I am, sir, with great respect, your very obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State Washington, D. C.

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. De Lhuys

Sir: I have great pleasure in transmitting to your excellency a proclamation issued by order of President Johnson, on the 18th of December last, which announces the final extinction of slavery throughout the territory of the United States.

The past history of France, as well as my personal observation during a residence of some years among the French people, authorizes me to presume that neither they nor their government can be indifferent to an event which works such an important improvement in the social and political condition of several millions of our fellow-creatures.

I profit by this occasion to renew to your excellency the assurance of the very high consideration, with which I have the honor to be, your excellency’s very obedient and very humble servant,


His Excellency Monsteur Drouyn de Lhuys, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris.


Mr. de Lhuys to Mr. Bigelow

Sir: You have had the kindness to communicate to me the proclamation by which President Johnson has definitely given his official sanction to the amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to the abolition of slavery over the whole extent of the federal territory.

You have justly thought, sir, that neither the government of the Emperor nor public opinion could view with indifference a measure destined to ameliorate the moral and material condition of several millions of human beings. We ourselves, several years ago, took the initiative in the suppression of slavery in our colonies. We, therefore, cannot but applaud the generous sentiment which has suggested to your government a measure so in harmony with the general progress of humanity.

Accept the assurances of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,


Mr. Bigelow, Minister of the United States at Paris.