Mr. Seward to Sir F. Bruce

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 30th of December last, in regard to the maintenance of lunatics, and proposing the return to Great Britain of any pauper, British subject, becoming lunatic while in the United States, the expense of such lunatic’s maintenance while in this country to be defrayed by the United States, her Majesty’s government paying actual cost of removal, and that such an arrangement should be reciprocal in its character.

In reply I have the honor to state that, upon inquiry, I find no record of any claim having been presented by this government in its own behalf or that of any State, municipality, or corporation, for the expenses of maintaining lunatic subjects of Great Britain, or any other power. The case of lunacy belongs to the several States. The federal government has no lunatic asylums, except for the army and navy, and for the District of Columbia. And it seems inexpedient to enter into any arrangement on the subject. I shall, however, give notice to the State authorities of the course proposed by her Majesty’s government, for their information, and with a view to such arrangements may seem to them to be called for, if upon further consideration her Majesty’s government desire it.

I would suggest, however, that the communication of your note to the State authorities may be construed as an invitation to send to England any pauper, British subject, becoming lunatic in this country, and, from the ambiguity of the expression, “any pauper, British subject,” lead to proceedings which might prove objectionable. There seems to be some uncertainty as to whether this includes all persons who, though domiciled in this country, have not abjured their British allegiance, or is to be restricted to travellers and temporary sojourners.

Awaiting any further suggestions which you may offer on the subject, I have the Honor to be, sir, with the highest consideration, your obedient servant,


The Hon. Sir Frederick W. A. Bruce, &c., &c., &c.