Mr. Hunter to Mr. Adams.

No. 1646.]

Sir: I enclose for your information a copy of a despatch, of the 30th of November last, from Mr. Morse, the United States consul at London, and a copy of a letter, of the 20th ultimo, from the Secretary of the Treasury, upon the subject of the recovery of a large amount of gold, alleged to be deposited in England, which was the property of the late insurgent authorities. Mr. Morse has been informed of the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

W. HUNTER, Acting Secretary.

Charles Francis Adams, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

[Page 41]

Mr. Morse to Mr. Seward.

No. 349.]

Sir: One or two persons here, who appear to have full knowledge of some of the financial operations of the late rebels, say that from £50,000 to £60,000 of confederate government gold is now held in this city, by some person, house, or bank, and that the holders refuse to deliver it to any ex-confederate agent whatever, government or otherwise, invariably meeting all applicants for it with the reply: “You are not the proper person or party to receive it, and that it belongs to the United States, if they can find it.” If we cannot obtain it the English holders will keep it. Now, the proof of the existence of this money, and its whereabouts, is only known to certain persons, not heretofore, if now, Union men, and they will not furnish the proofs that will enable us to recover the money without a handsome percentage for themselves on the amount so recovered.

They feel so confident that they can furnish all the evidence necessary that I think I can make a safe and confidential verbal arrangement with them, that the suit, should one be necessary, shall be commenced by the United States, at their expense, and if they fail to furnish all the evidence necessary to success, they will pay the expenses of the suit, and get nothing. But if successful, we pay expenses and their commission. Though all we get will be clear gain, I do not consider myself authorized to enter into any arrangement for allowing commissions with[out] express authority from you—though I might think it right and expedient to enter into a conditional arrangement, subject to your approval, where the case will not admit of delay, I wish always to avoid assuming any authority, not clearly given me. Will you, therefore, do me the honor to inform me by return post, if I am or may be authorized to make the best arrangement I can for the government in this, and cases of a similar character, should any other occur.

Should you direct me to proceed with the case, and we should recover, I presume some one should be authorized to receive the money, pay charges, and deposit the balance to the credit of your department.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

F. W. MORSE, Consul.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. McCulloch to Mr. Seward.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter submitting for my views despatch No. 349, dated November 30, ultimo, from the consul of the United States at London, relative to certain moneys heretofore belonging to the late rebel authorities, held by parties in that city.

It appears from the statements made in the despatch that certain persons in London will, for a consideration, furnish such information and perform such services as will lead to the recovery of a large amount of gold, heretofore the property of the late so-called Confederate States government.

So far as the practice of this department in analogous cases is concerned, it has not hesitated to make arrangements with parties in possession of information, or who will take the necessary steps to secure to the government any property or moneys justly belonging to it, but in regard to which it does not possess sufficient information to enable it to secure it. No general rule fixing compensation has been adopted, the award generally depending, to some extent, upon the value of services rendered and expenses incurred by parties acting on its behalf. It occurs to me, however, that if the consul at London is satisfied, from the representations made to him, that sufficient ground exists for such action on his part, it would be proper to authorize him to make an arrangement with the parties in question to the effect that they be allowed for their services and expenses in the premises one-fourth part of such amount as may be received by government from the source indicated; it being understood that if nothing is secured to government, all expenses incurred in the matter shall be borne by the parties in question, and no allowance be made to them therefor, or for any information given or service rendered by them.

The despatch referred to is herewith returned as requested.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

H. McCULLOCH, Secretary of the Treasury.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.