Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward

No. 250.]

Sir: Important modifications have been lately made, and are likely hereafter to be introduced, in various of our departments of administration; and these, as time and experience shall test them, will, doubtless, require further changes and adaptations.

It has occurred to me that much useful information in aid thereof might be procured abroad expeditiously and without expense to the government through its public agents in Europe; especially in matters connected with the department of our finances, where a new revenue system has been introduced, and where a knowledge of the machinery and workings of similar branches of administration in Europe would be likely tobe valuable. Their system of collection of internal revenue, and of accountability of collectors and receivers in particular, perfected by the experience of centuries of taxation, could not but be a profitable study to us.

It would afford me real pleasure to furnish any facts on these subjects likely to be useful at home; and I would suggest that the best method to procure them would be by a series of questions on specific points where information is needed.

I have at different times, looking forward to our future requirements in this field, made reports upon the systems and workings of different branches of administration abroad. In Ex. Doc. 68, 33d Congress, in the same volume with my report upon the Penal Code of Europe, is an extended paper of mine upon the administrative changes introduced in France by the republic and the empire. My despatches Nos. 68 and 177 (the former published in Diplomatic Correspondence of 1862) accompanied, respectively, reports upon the revenue system of this country, and the recruiting systems of this and other countries. I have also prepared for a congressional committee a paper upon the legislation of European states touching bankruptcy, and for another a paper upon the military [Page 77] schools of this country, and this experience has convinced me that much of the labor in preparing such documents might be saved if attention could be directed to the precise points upon which information is most needed. Hence the suggestion which I have taken the liberty to make to you.

We have now nearly passed the phase of war, and of solicitude touching the action or opinion of Europe with respect to it and its consequent labors, and we are about entering upon the important one of reorganization and consolidation; and it seems to me that our agents abroad could materially aid in laying and strengthening the bases of the modified administrative system which the wants and changes of the past four years have rendered necessary.

If I can be of assistance in that work, the department has but to command my services.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.