Mr. Seward to Mr. Stoeckl

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 16th– 28th instant, on the subject of the new exequaturs which have been issued by the President to the Russian consuls in this country.

In reply, I have the honor to state that the object of this measure was not to derogate from the stipulation in the treaty between the United States and Russia to which you refer. The phrase “most favored nations,” however, has been found in practice to be somewhat indefinite in its character. If any favor is extended by this government to a consul of a foreign power, the same favor will be extended by the executive government of the United States to the consul of Russia, upon the assurance that the United States consuls in that empire enjoy a similar favor. Treaties are in this country, however, subject to judicial interpretation, and the rights and privileges of foreign consuls are placed by the Constitution under the direct guardianship of the Supreme Court.

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It was deemed advisable to reserve in the new form of the exequatur a discrimination which might be supposed to be called for by the special consular conventions which have been entered into by this government with France, the Netherlands, and New Granada.

If the imperial government should think proper to negotiate with that of the United States a consular convention, similar to those above referred to, an overture for that purpose will be willingly entertained.

Accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my very high consideration.


Mr. Edward de Stoeckl, &c., &c., &c.