Mr. Seward to Mr. Berthemy

My Dear Mr. Berthemy: I received from Mr. Plumb, United States chargé d’affaires in Mexico, a despatch yesterday, with which he communicated, with expressions of due appreciation, a copy of a polite note which he had received from Mr. Lavalette, minister of the interior, in charge ad interim of the ministry of foreign relations at Paris. In that note Mr. Lavalette expressed the thanks of the Emperor’s government to Mr. Plumb for the attention which the United States had promised should be given by Mr. Plumb to the interests of French subjects in Mexico. Mr. Lavalette proceeded, in the same note, to say that as soon as Mr. Dano should return he would have an understanding with him to designate, if he had not already done so before his departure, a person [Page 294]who could, in friendly guise, assist Mr. Plumb in the labors of the chancery relative to French affairs. Mr. Lavalette further promised that he would write again to Mr. Plumb by one of the earliest couriers. Mr. Plumb has also, with a subsequent despatch, transmitted to me a note which was addressed to him by Mr. Farine, on the 29th of October, which note was written in conformity with the views and purposes which have been made known to Mr. Plumb by Mr. Lavalette.

It is some time since I informed you that the Mexican government, in consenting to the exercise of good offices for foreigners belonging to other nations residing in Mexico, had taken care to insist that those offices should be employed in an unofficial and not in an official manner, and that this government had directed its representatives to Mexico to acquiesce in the course thus proposed by the Mexican government. It is under these circumstances that Mr. Plumb has transmitted Mr. Lavalette’s letter and Mr. Farine’s note to me, it being manifest that both of those papers were written before the authorities at Paris had received information of the special reservations upon which the Mexican government insists. It also appears that when Mr. Plumb received the communications of Mr. Lavalette and Mr. Farine he had not yet received the instructions of this department to acquiesce in the course which the French government had indicated.

I have endeavored to rectify the situation of this affair in Mexico by two despatches * upon the subject, which have been transmitted to Mr. Plumb, and of which I have the honor to give you copies for the information of the Emperor’s government.

It is hardly necessary to acknowledge the, liberal and friendly sentiments manifested by Mr. Lavalette.

Faithfully yours,


M. Berthemy, &c., &c., &c.

  1. For enclosures see instructions to the United States minister to Mexico, Nos. 20 and 23 of the 19th and 20th of November, 1867.