Sir F. Bruce to Mr. Seward

Sir: The reports received by the State Department from the consuls of the United States abroad will, I presume, contain evidence of the unsatisfactory state of the present arrangements for the relief and transportation to their respective countries of American and British seamen who are discharged in foreign ports. The inconvenience is felt in cases where the American seaman has served in a British vessel, and where a British seaman has formed part of the crew of a United States merchant vessel. If no vessel of the nation to which the discharged seaman belongs happens to be in port, it frequently becomes a matter of great difficulty and expense to provide for the return of the distressed seaman to his own country.

In order to obviate the hardships to which seamen under such circumstances are exposed, I am instructed by the government of her Britannic Majesty to propose that the government of the United States shall relieve and send home all British subjects who have become distressed, immediately after having served as part of the crews of United States merchant vessels, and that the British government shall afford the same relief to American citizens who have become distressed immediately after having served as part of the crew of British merchant vessels.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.