Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to forward you by this post printed copies of two treaties lately concluded between the kingdom of Italy and the French empire, and of a ministerial circular extending the benefits of these treaties to the states referred to in the circular in question.
You will observe that the United States are not among the nations enumerated in the circular as entitled to the privileges secured to France by these treaties, and the custom-house authorities at Genoa and elsewhere of course do not think themselves authorized to admit merchandise imported from America upon payment of the reduced duties stipulated by the new treaty with France. This fact became known to me only in the course of the last week, and I at once called the attention of the ministry of foreign affairs to the subject.
Some difficulties were raised by the ministry of Vienna, but after several discussions with the secretary general of the ministry of foreign affairs, the minister not having received the members of the diplomatic corps for the last two weeks, I have been this morning informed by the secretary general that it was decided to put our commerce on the same footing with that of other nations which have concluded treaties of commerce with Italy, and that orders to that effect would be immediately given to the custom-house officers in the ports of this kingdom.
The secretary states that his government desires to negotiate a new treaty of commerce with the United States, and requests me to ask full powers and instructions for that purpose. Our treaty with Sardinia differs in many particulars from the last treaty concluded between the United States and the Two Sicilies. I am told that the Italian government regards all treaties between foreign states and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies as abrogated, at least for most purposes, by the annexation of that kingdom to Sardinia, and considers the treaties between these states and Sardinia as now extending to the whole kingdom.
It is easy, however, to see that upon the revival of our commerce with Sicilian ports it may become an important question whether we are not entitled to the rights and subject to the responsibilities established by the treaty with the kingdom of the Sicilies so far as regards commercial operations in these ports.
The anticipation of such difficulties is an argument of some weight for the negotiation of a new treaty, and the ministry of foreign affairs desires that certain privileges—the surrender of deserters from the Italian commercial marine in our ports, for instance, and reciprocally of deserters from our merchant ships in Italian ports—which have been conceded to other nations, be mutually secured to each other by the United States and Italy.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, yours,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.