Mr. Marsh to Mr. Seward.
Sir. : I have the honor to enclose herewith a translation of a note received on Friday last from the ministry of foreign affairs, in relation to the exemption of American citizens residing in Italy from contribution to the forced loan decreed on the 28th of July.
In order to come to an understanding on the question which will arise in regard to the evidence by which American citizenship is to be established, I went to the Foreign Office immediately upon the receipt of the note, but was unable to have an interview with either the minister or the secretary general of [Page 604]that department ; and as Saturday was the day of the formal opening of the new session of Parliament, I was obliged to postpone the discussion of the subject till some convenient day in the course of this week. The only difficulty I apprehend on this point will be in relation to the liability of Italians, who, after taking out a certificate of naturalization in the United States, have returned and re-established themselves in their native land. I infer from some circumstances that a certificate of citizenship from the legation or a consulate will be deemed satisfactory evidence, but I suppose the government will expect a statement of the principles by which we are guided in recognizing the applicant as entitled to it.
Most of the returned emigrants have little or no property subject to taxation by the laws of the United States, but I have reason to believe that some who may claim American citizenship are possessed of considerable means. Until otherwise instructed by you, I shall require from such persons, before issuing a certificate of citizenship, proof by affidavit or otherwise that they have made the returns prescribed by law, and paid the taxes to which they are liable.
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Little has transpired respecting the objects of General Fleury’s mission to Florence, but it is supposed by many, with much apparent probability, that one object is to negotiate a virtual though perhaps not a formal alliance, offensive and ^defensive, between France and Italy ; another to obtain an explicit remuneration of the claims of Italy to Rome as the national capital.
The first of these measures is so manifestly full of danger to the best interests of Italy, that I cannot believe that there is any likelihood of its being adopted by the ministry, at least, as at present constituted or approved by Parliament, The other, however, ready the nation might otherwise be to abandon the long cherished idea of making Rome once more the capital of Italy, would be so flat a contradiction to the solemn and authoritative declarations of the ministry of 1864, that I think it would be regarded by the Italian people as a humiliating concession to a foreign power, and at the same time as a decisive confirmation of the truth of the charges brought against the negotiation of the convention of September in the parliamentary debate on the ratification of that compact. * * * * * *
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.