Mr. Seward to M. Berthemy

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 4th ultimo, transmitting a copy of the text of a monetary convention concluded on the 23d of December, 1865, between France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, the origin and purpose of which your note lucidly explains, and which by its terms is open to the adhesion of other governments.

Your note indicates a wish on the part of the imperial government, in the event of that of the United States not being prepared to subscribe to the stipulations of the convention, to be made acquainted with the obstacles in the way of such an arrangement; and you most courteously suggest that if this government, even though not able to accede to the conventional union actually constituted, should be disposed either to agree upon stipulations destined to establish equations between some of its monetary types of gold or silver and those which the convention may determine, or to take part in an international conference at which might be discussed the means of arriving at a more extended monetary understanding, the government of the Emperor will entertain any overtures which might be addressed to it with this view.

Having consulted the Secretary of the Treasury upon the subject, I have the honor to state, in reply to your note, that this government, both in its legislative and executive departments, has repeatedly manifested its interest in the question of international unification of monetary standards; that the importance of a standard unit of equal value in all commercial countries for the uses of account and currency is fully recognized and appreciated; and the ideal object presented in your communication being acceptable, it only remains to be decided how the desired result may be brought about.

It is to be hoped that neither the quadripartite convention, nor the proceedings already adopted by the four governments under its provisions, will be held to preclude any of those governments from entertaining considerations in favor of its modification which may be offered by other governments in the interests of a system universally acceptable.

From the enclosed reports you will be able to form an idea of the progress of the investigation of this question by this government, and of its views as to the manner in which the discussion of it should be continued. Both branches thereof have concurred in providing the agencies for this purpose, in connection with the Universal Exposition to be opened at Paris in April next, on which occasion it is presumed that leading nations, not parties to the convention before noticed, will be represented, with authority vested in their delegates or commissioners to consider and report upon this question with those of the four powers. This government, however, has no hesitation in avowing its desire to come into accord with other governments with which the United States hold important relations, to attain the object proposed, and to encourage a spirit of conciliation [Page 298]in face of the conflicting interests and inconveniences involved in its accomplishment.

I beg that you will accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my highest consideration.


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

The documents enclosed with the above were: the report of the Hon. John Kasson, from the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures, of the House of Representatives, (report No. 62, thirty-ninth Congress, first session;) the report of the director of the mint of the United States for the fiscal year ending June 30, 18G6; and President’s message and documents, (Senate Ex. Doc. No. 5, thirty-ninth Congress, second session,) relating to the collection of products, and of weights, measures, and coins, for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867.