Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Robert Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (27 April 1865)

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Date: 1865-04-27
By: Richard Graves Macdonnell
Citation: Despatch from Lieutenant Governor Richard Graves Macdonnell to Right Hon. Edward Cardwell (27 April 1865) in Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, Appendix No. 10–Union of the Colonies (1866).
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Halifax, N.S, 27th April, 1865.


Before you can receive this despatch the startling and very distressing intelligence of the foul assassination of President Lincoln will have reached you. The details of that outrage, no less disgraceful to our common humanity than injurious in my opinion to the cause of peace and order, cannot fail to have stirred the feelings of the British public with the same strong sympathy for the victim and horror at the crime, which the intelligence elicited here.

2. I have no doubt that her Majesty’s Government will be gratified at learning the marked unanimity of feeling which pervaded this community on the subject; a manifestation which has evidently touched a kindred chord in the hearts of the people of the United States.

3. The tidings reached me on the. forenoon of Saturday the 18th inst., and I did not hesitate an instant to arrange with the Provincial Secretary for the adjournment of the assembly, and to put off a visit which I had arranged to make to the Legislature for the purpose of giving the Queen’s assent to several bills on that day.

4. As the brief letter which I wrote to the President of the Council conveying that decision and further suggesting the adjournment of the Council was immediately telegraphed over the United States and the British Provinces, and elicited their much grateful comment and much hearty spirit, I do myself the honor to enclose a copy of it.

5. I also enclose a copy of a letter received from Judge Jackson the United States Consul, announcing the President’s death, and my reply thereto.

6. I likewise directed the flags on government house, the citadel, the forts, and the public buildings, to be hoisted half mast high, a mark of respect and sympathy which vas repeated on the I9th inst., the day set apart for the funeral obsequies of the late President.

7. Unfortunately some accidental circumstances had previously led to display of flags on board two or three vessels engaged in blockade running, and at that time lying in the harbor. I therefore requested captain Preston of I. M. S. Medea to convey a message from me to the captains of those vessels as to the unreasonable and improper character of such a display. I also authorized the hauling down of the colours by force, if necessary, as I was determined to reserve the people of Halifax from the imputation of sympathizing with a crime which I knew only met their abhorrence.

8. Captain Lockwood of the Colonel Lamb waited on me the next day, and it appears from his explanation that the flags had been hoisted before the receipt of the intelligence of the President’s death, and although it did not occur to him-as it ought to have done- o take them down when that news reached him, all were immediately removed on the receipt of my message.

9. On the whole I am satisfied that the unpremeditated and prompt display of hearty sympathy and good feeling exhibited by the authorities and this community has been creditable to the province, and will yet bear good fruit. I therefore hope the measures I adopted will meet your approval.

I have, &c.,

(Signed) R. G. MACDONNELL.

The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies.

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