M. Berthemy to Mr. Seward

Mr. Secretary of State: In transmitting to your excellency, the 28th of September last year, a copy of the new code of French maritime signals, I had the honor to announce to you that the governments of France and Great Britain, after coming to an understanding on the subject, had thought they could, in the interest of general utility, recommend the adoption of these signals to the other maritime powers To follow up this communication, I hasten to send you to-day a note relative to the application of this new code, and to the establishment of an electro-semaphoric service on the coasts of France.

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I avail of this occasion to recall to your excellency the importance which the government of the Emperor would attach to the knowledge of the views of the United States on a question which interests in so high a degree the marine of every country.

Please accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurance of my high consideration.


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

Note relative to the adoption of the commercial code, and to the imperial decree fixing the opening of the electro-semaphoric service.

An imperial decree has fixed the 15th November, 1866, for opening the electro-semaphoric service. Every French or foreign vessel passing in view of one of these semaphores scattered along the coast can, if supplied with a commercial code, exchange with such post the signals which may interest her navigation. Besides, if the vessel, French or foreign, has a correspondent in France, he might send to the last, in French or by cypher *, a despatch, the charge for which shall be paid by the party to whom addressed. The latter can then use the telegraph to send abroad the news given him, until an international convention regulate the question of collection of charges, and permit the direct transmission abroad by sea.

  1. One signal of the commercial code allows the sender to indicate to the semaphose in what manner he may-wish his despatch to be sent. In the interest of all, the exact translation of each phase of the code is indis-pensable, for one and the same thought should be expressed by the same signals, and this universal language once adopted, commerce would immediately feel its benefits.