Mr. Stoeckl to Mr. Seward

To the Secretary of State:

The imperial government has just transmitted to me a copy of a decision of the council of the empire concerning vessels driven into the ports of Russia under stress. According to this decision, all vessels that put into Russian ports, not for the purpose of carrying on commercial operations, but in the case of greater force, (putting in under stress,) for instance of weather, chase by an enemy, average, want of coal on board a steamer, or scantiness of provisions, shall be exempt from all navigation dues.

This measure applies to foreign vessels, as well as to Russian bottoms, without any distinction.

The imperial government inquires of me whether a similar law exists in the United States, and, in the contrary case, charges me to enter on negotiations with the federal government, and to invite it to adopt analogous measures towards Russian vessels, as an act of the reciprocity which has always made the base of transactions between the two governments.

Please accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurance of my highest consideration.


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.