Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.

No. 405.]

Sir : The House of Representatives, on meeting last week after the Christmas recess, took up the revision of the penal code.

An interesting debate took place upon an amendment by M. Guillery for the abolition of capital punishment—an amendment offered by M. Forgeur last year in the Senate, and rejected by that body. While it did not receive a majority, the vote being 43 in favor to 55 against, the members of the cabinet dividing upon it, it is evident that the proposition is gaining public favor, and I think it probable that the time is not far distant when Belgium will be included among those States which have stricken the death penalty from the list of punishments for crime.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


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