M. Berthemy to Mr. Seward

Mr. Secretary of State: On communicating to you, under date of 4th January last, the text of the monetary convention recently concluded between France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, I had, at the same time, the honor to call your attention to the opportunity for submitting to an international conference which should be held at Paris the study of the more general question of uniformity of coinage.

In view of the reception given to these overtures, as well by the cabinet of the United States as by those of other countries to which they were addressed, the government of the Emperor has thought that the time has arrived for following out the project, the realization of which it was their aim to prepare. In consequence, a formal proposition has been transmitted through the diplomatic medium to divers governments in order that they might cause themselves to be represented in a commission which should meet at Paris on Monday, the 17th June next, at the hotel of the department for foreign affairs. This conference would be presided over conjointly by the minister for foreign affairs and the minister of finance. The vice-presidency would be devolved on Mr. de Parieu, vice-president of the council of state, who, with Mr. Herbet, minister plenipotentiary, director of consulates and commercial affairs, would thereat represent the department for foreign affairs. The delegates from the department of finance would be Mr. Pelouze, member of the institute, president of the commission on coinage, and Mr. de Lavenay, president of the section of finance in the council of state. His excellency the Marquis de Moustier charges me, in placing these notices before the government of the United States, to convey to it, at the same time, the invitation to participate in the international monetary conference. It would attach even, in consequence of the early time at which the labors should commence, very special value to the information as soon as possible of the name of the delegate by whom the cabinet of Washington shall deem fit to be represented, and I would be very thankful to your excellency if you would, as soon as possible, inform me on this point.

There is no need to add that the commissioners will assemble without any programme arranged in anticipation. They will thus be able to look more freely for a solution of the difficulties which would oppose an assimilation between the systems actually in operation. This mode of proceeding, which has already [Page 299]received so happy an application at the conferences of 1865, appears at this time of greater utility, inasmuch as different countries, while appreciating the importance of the object to be attained, would have the means of recurring to divergent opinions. The conference proposed has not otherwise any immediate object than to call out an interchange of views and discussion of principles; in a word, to seek for the bases of ulterior negotiations.

Accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurances of my high consideration,


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