M. Berthemy to Mr. Seward

Sir: The international monetary conference, which assembled at Paris on the 17th June last, has recently ended its labors. It was not formed, as you know, with a view to concluding a diplomatic arrangement, but it was to take note of the difficulties which the unification of the monetary systems would encounter, then to seek the means for smoothing them away, and in some sort lay down bases for ulterior negotiations.

The delegates of twenty states represented at the conference have come to an understanding on the essential elements of a solution of the problem confided to their investigation. Judging the adoption of an entirely new system to be impracticable, they have indicated the convention of the 23d December, 1865, between France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, saving some modifications, as adapted to serve as a point of approximation; they have decided, with reserve of some measures of transitory nature, in favor of an exclusive standard of gold; they have recommended the standard of fineness at nine-tenths, and the five-franc piece as the common denominator of coin in universal use; they have, in fine, pointed out the necessity of securing perfect sameness of coinage by some controlling measures, as well as the propriety of proceeding by means of diplomatic conventions to the projected unification.

These declarations borrow special importance from the very composition of the conference and from their unanimity.

The governments now have to appreciate them and to make known the decisions which they shall believe they ought to make on the subject of the resolutions suggested by their delegates.

It has been understood in this respect, at the seventh sitting, that the government of the Emperor, representing the group of states signers of the convention of the 23d December, 1865, would notify the wishes of the international commission to the different cabinets; would collect their replies, and would again [Page 356]call together, if there should be ground for it, those of them that should appear disposed to apply the principles which they should have approved.

In conformity with this arrangement, the government of the Emperor has already sent to the federal government, through the medium of its representative at Paris, the collection of the minutes of proceedings of the conference, and invites me to-day to call your attention to the wishes which are expressed in these protocols, and to set forth to you the desire it must have to learn the result of the investigation to which the labors of the conference will have been submitted, without ignoring, nevertheless, the fact that the cabinet of Washington will not be in a position to express officially its opinions without having submitted the question to Congress.

Declarations so remarkable for their clearness, as for their conciliating and liberal character, as those put forth by Mr. Samuel B. Buggies, in the interest of the unification which it is proposed to realize, have been highly appreciated by the government of the Emperor, and if, as I have ground to hope, the government of the United States should ratify the votes of its delegate, the example given by so great a country will certainly be followed by other states.

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


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