Mr. Wright to Mr. Seward

No. 7.]

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 If such is the existing laws of Prussia, they should be repealed at once.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.


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,


Mr. Wright, &c., &c., &c.