Sir F. Bruce to Mr. Seward

Sir: In the course of the discussions which have taken place between Great Britain and France on the notice to determine the treaty for the extradition of criminals reference has been made to the working of the extradition treaties between France and the United States—the French government contending that they can obtain the extradition of criminals from the United States with greater facility than from Great Britain.

As the treaties, and the legislative acts passed in the two countries to give them effect, are substantially identical with respect to the proof required of the crimes alleged, her Majesty’s government are anxious to ascertain under what circumstances this alleged difference in the practical results of the treaties has grown up, and I am instructed to request you to be good enough to furnish me with information as to the construction the government of the United States puts on the provisions of the extradition treaties, and as to the requirements of the judges or commissioners of the United States, compliance with which is indispensable to the surrender of criminals.

I enclose herewith extract of a letter from the chief magistrate at Bow street, London, which states precisely the evidence required by the British magistrates, and her Majesty’s government wish to ascertain whether the judges in the United States require less evidence in such cases.

I am further directed to inquire whether the government of the United States consider the extradition treaty with France as binding them to give up persons convicted in France, either after trial, or by the procedure known as conviction “par contumace” and who may have escaped from the consequences of conviction. Her Majesty’s government would be glad to ascertain the views of the United States, were a proposal made on the part of France to include such persons in a new extradition treaty.

I shall feel much obliged for any information you can give me on these points at an early date, as the subject is now under discussion between Great Britain and France, and an accurate knowledge of the practice and views held with respect to extradition by the United States will have much weight in arriving at an arrangement.

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


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


The requisite evidence would be—

1st. The production of a warrant of arrest, issued by a “competent magistrate” in France, setting forth the crime charged.

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2d. A certified copy of the depositions taken before the said magistrate, and which must contain proofs of the criminality of the accused.

3d. A witness who could identify the accused.