Sir F. Bruce to Mr. Seward

Sir: On the 16th of July of last year you were good enough to inform me that a proposal which I had made on the part of her Majesty’s government with regard to the adoption of a code of maritime signals would receive the attention of the government of the United States. Being, however, still uninformed of the decision made in the matter by the proper authorities, I beg to recall your attention to the question, and in accordance with instructions received from her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign affairs, I have the honor to forward three plates representing various signal flags.

With regard to plate No. 1, her Majesty’s government are desirous of ascertaining whether the flags therein represented are those officially authorized by the United States government as the signal flags to be used on board American ships of war; for if not, the plate will be expunged from the English signal-book, as no longer necessary.

Plates Nos. 2 and 3 represent the signal flags authorized by the British and French governments respectively to be used by their ships of war for signalling by the commercial code.

This code, á copy of which I had the honor to forward to you in my note of the 13th of July last, has now been adopted by the principal maritime states of Europe, and several of these states have transmitted to her Majesty’s government plates of the signal flags ordered to be used on board their ships of war for communicating by it, and her Majesty’s government deem it important with the view of affording to all nations the means of communicating at sea by the code, both between their ships of war and merchant vessels, that the recognized flags which each nation has adopted for the purpose should be inserted in all signal-books.

In requesting you to have the kindness to supply me with the information desired by her Majesty’s government, as soon as you conveniently can do so, I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


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