Mr. Wright to Mr.
United States Legation
November 8, 1865.
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laws of Prussia, they should be repealed at once.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
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
November 1, 1865.
The legation of the United States of America, in a note dated 19th of
August last, complains that two condemned criminals, George Simon
Krumbholz and Ernst Frederick Rödiger, from Wandersieben, province
of Erfurt, had been forwarded by a steamer to America, under the
conduct and costs of the local authorities. The undersigned has the
honor to inform Mr. Wright, envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary of the United States of America, in reply to this
note, that, from the inquiries which have been made concerning this
affair, the complaint seems to rest upon erroneous suppositions.
Krumbholz and Rödiger, who are in truth condemned subjects, had
expressed the desire to seek in America a new home, thinking a
continued existence in Wandersieben doubtful. To put this plan into
execution, a manufacturer, Lilienthal, living in the vicinity,
animated by philanthropic sentiments, had given a considerable sum,
and the citizens of Wandersieben had furnished an equal amount for
this purpose. These two individuals ask now, in order to accomplish
this purpose, their liberation as Prussian subjects. This request,
according to existing laws, could not be refused, and, in
consequence, the authorities of the province of Erfurt gave them
permission to emigrate. Only, in order to see that the money given
by Lilienthal and the citizens of Wandersieben should be employed
for the purpose proposed, a member of the local authorities of
Wandersieben accompanied the two individuals as far as Bremerhafen.
This conduct was not in the character of police; it took place only
in the peculiar and private interest of Lilienthal and the citizens
of Wandersleben, who, in a very generous manner, had offered to
these two emigrants the means of seeking a new existence.
In asking Mr. Wright to make this affair known to the government of
the United States, the undersigned has no doubt but that this
explanation of the case will be sufficient to make the affair appear
in its true light.
The undersigned takes this occasion to renew the assurance of his
most distinguished consideration.
The minister for foreign affairs, by authority,
&c., &c., &c.