Mr. Wright to Mr. Seward
Sir: I forward with this despatch the reply of Baron Thile, acting minister of the Prussian government, to your despatch, No. 2, dated July 18, 1865, which refers to the sending by the authorities of Erfurt two condemned criminals from Prussia to the United States. The answer of the minister evades the main question, by attempting to show it was the act of individual citizens, and not of the Prussian authorities. I quote his language:‘This request, according to existing laws, could not be refused, and, in consequence, the authorities at Erfurt gave them permission to emigrate.’ This is the very act of which we complain. They were condemned criminals. They could not leave Prussia without the consent of the legal authorities. This consent was given, and from this reply of the minister of his Majesty’s government there is to be found no condemnation of the act of the public authorities at Erfurt, but a distinct approval. If such is the existing laws of Prussia, they should be repealed at once. The answer of the minister, to use his own language, may present this case in its true light, but I cannot believe it will be satisfactory to the government of the United States. If so, this will form a precedent for sending to our country the condemned criminals of other countries whenever philanthropic individuals can be found to raise the necessary means for the accomplishment of this purpose. I do not believe the minister for foreign affairs, Baron von Bismarck, would have made such a reply. I shall know in a few days.
The views of the President in reference to the protection of our adopted citizens, if expressed in his annual message, will do much good. No document [Page 66] from our country is so generally published and read by the Germans as the message of the President. In this way the German people can be made to understand our views on this subject. I do trust it will be alluded to in the forthcoming message.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.