Seward to Lyons, 8/10/1863

On June 13, 1863 President Lincoln signed an order to permit the recruitment of freedmen colonists for the British West Indies. The paperwork was then transferred to the State Department and the British Legation in Washington, D.C. to formalize the terms of the agreement.

On August 10 the State Department forwarded these terms in a letter to the British Legation. Copies currently reside in the U.S. and U.K. National Archives.


Right Hon. Lord Lyons

Department of State
Washington, August 10, 1863

My Lord:

In your note of the 17th of June last, which has been received, your lordship inquires whether it would be agreeable to this government if a proclamation should be made by the governor of British Honduras under the provisions of an act of the legislature of that colony, declaring that Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are regarded as ports of emigration, with a view to canvass for an emigration of colored laborers from the United States.

Having taken the directions of the President, I have to inform your lordship that this government interposes no objection to the voluntary immigration of persons of the class described, and of course none to the proclamation proposed.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, your lordship’s obedient servant,

William H. Seward

Click here for more Lincoln document discoveries