DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, September 21, 1861.
Many intelligent and patriotic citizens have applied to me by memo rial asking the attention of the Government to what they represent as treasonable matter contained in a letter bearing the date of Washington, August 10, published in the London Times, and they express their conviction that the statement made in the communication are untrue, and that it is the design, of the writer to bring the credit and fame of this Government into disrepute in foreign countries. It has been of habit of the Government of the United States to take no notice of representations however obnoxious made by the press of foreing nations, or even of injurious utterances made by ministers or other agents of foreing power in the ordinary trnsaction of their own affairs. The Govenment on the contrary has hitherto recognized as worthy of its observation only the language and the action of the executive organs of foreign states.
For myself I confess I have not read the publication complamed of, and I am quite sure it has not arrested the attention of any other member of the administration, engrossed as we all necessary are with urgent public duties and cares. However erroneous the facts or the inferences of the writer may be they neverheless stand on his own indiviual authority, while the whole patriotic press of our country is free and is interested to refute them. The Government of the United States depends not upon the favor or good will of foreign writers or papers or even of foreign nations, but upon the just support of the American people. Its credit and its fame seem to me now than ever heretofore safe in their keeping.
If it be assumed that the obnoxious paper may do harm here is it not a sufficient reply that probably not fifty copies of the London Times ever find their way to our shores? If it be said again that the obnoxious communication has been widely published in the United States it seems to be a sufficien the censure of a magnanimous Government in that case ought to fall on those of its own citizens who have reproduced the liber rather than on the foreigner who wrote it exclusively for remote publication.
Finally, interference with the press even in the case of an existing insurection can be justified only on the ground of public danger. I do not see any such danger in the present case. Even if one foreigner does pervert our hospitality to shelter himself in writing injuriors publications against us for a foreign press a hundred other foreigners, as intelligent, as virtuous, as respectable as he is, are daily enrolling themselves in the Army of the United States to defend and maintain the Union as the chief hope of humanity in all countries and for all ages. Could there be a better illustration of that great fundamental truth of our system, that error of opinion may safety be tolerated when reason is left free to combat it?
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
LOUSVILLE, KY., Saturday, September 21, 1861.
Called by the legislature of this my native State I hereby assume command of this department. I come to enforce not to make laws, and God willing to protect your property and your lives. The enemies of