Mr. Burlingame to Mr. Seward

No. 131.]

Sir: I received a short time since a letter from Baring Brothers covering a despatch to them from you intimating the possibility of a removal of the surplus of the indemnity fund from the Oriental Bank of Hong Kong to some other place of deposit. I at once notified the bank to be ready for a draft. I have now received your despatch No. 174, conveying the same intimation, and await your instructions.

I present the present condition of the fund by a letter (enclosure A) from Dr. Williams, who had charge of it during my absence, and to whom the government is indebted for its very wise management before I came to China.

The principal was $220,000, (two hundred and twenty thousand dollars,) which is kept in one account, and the interest accruing on it in another. Altogether there must be about $240,000, (two hundred and forty thousand dollars,) but the exact amount I cannot know until I hear from Hong Kong.

Dr. Williams, in the exercise of the power conferred by the act of March, 1859, while in charge invested a portion of the interest in the manner pointed out in his letter, and though he did this on his own responsibility in the exercise of his own discretion, he has done it for such good reasons and with such good results that I can but commend his action to the government, with an earnest request that it may be approved and his further suggestions carried out.

After receiving the letter from the Barings I did not feel authorized to make any further investment for the purpose of executing tue plan of Dr. Williams until the views of the government should be ascertained. In my judgment an appropriation should be asked for covering the amount already drawn and yet required to perfect the buildings so that the legation may belong to the government. If this cannot be done, it seems to me absolutely necessary to leave this investment where it is, and permit the still further outlay required to complete [Page 460] what is so nearly finished. The investment is safe and more advantageous by one per cent. than if deposited in the bank, and just the same as if placed in our own bonds.

May I ask the favor of as speedy an answer as possible?

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington. D. C.