Mr. Yeaman to Mr. Seward.

No. 87.]

Sir: * * * * * * *

Referring to the subject of my communication of the 4th December, 1866, and which was numbered by the department in my despatch No. 43, I have now to say that when I wrote it I was ignorant of the fact that the whole subject-matter had been so thoroughly investigated by any government as was done by the British government in 1860 and 1861. I now forward to the State Department, in the package named above, a book printed by order of the House of Commons, and kindly procured for me by my very obliging colleague, Sir Charles Murray, the English envoy at this court. I have perused it with much interest and instruction, and from its dimensions you will perceive it was no small undertaking.

The book comprises the report of a committee of the House of Commons, a vast mass of evidence comprised in the answers to several thousand questions put to witnesses who were examined, the official opinions of nearly all the diplomatic [Page 679] agents in the service of the British government at that time, and reports or statements, furnished upon request, by the foreign offices of nearly all the governments with which Great Britain holds diplomatic intercourse. Very much of all this has relation to subjects of minor interest to the American statesman and diplomatist, such as a scale of pensions and the service that will entitle to a pension, the question of unpaid attaches, messengers’ leave of absence, interchange of persons and service between the state department and legations abroad, and between the legations and the consular force, and to a system of examination for admittance into the diplomatic service. But much of the contents of the book also relates to the questions I discussed in my above-named despatch No. 43, and by the evidence and opinions upon those subjects I have been confirmed in all the views I then ventured to express.

There are also in this book many suggestions worthy of consideration in regard to the general conduct of diplomatic business, among which I may mention that I have been especially interested by the evidence upon the question raised as to the effect of the publication of “blue books,” and upon the benefits of a private correspondence between the head of the foreign office and the ministers abroad.

I am not advised that this investigation led to any material change in the organization of the diplomatic service of Great Britain. The term of unpaid service among the junior attachés was shortened and made definite. Upon several points wherein change had been proposed the evidence differed widely. The result of all the evidence seemed to be that the British service was organized at least as well as any other; and as to compensation, while the diplomatists were complaining of being underpaid, Parliament was complaining of the large amount of money the diplomatic service was costing the country.

Upon this subject it will be observed that besides outfits, retiring pensions, a greater working force of attachés and secretaries, and practically a life estate in the office, four considerations certainly very material, the English diplomatic agent has generally about three times the amount of annual salary received by his American colleague. The French and Russian compensations are not so easily estimated, owing to the several different forms in which they are made, but it appears probable they are no less well served than the English. I will not here discuss whether this monstrous disparity redounds to our interests and our political and national influence. As to its compatibility with our institutions, it is directly the reverse, because it tends to attach a property or money qualification to the office, which it is confessed in the book is really the case in England, notwithstanding their much better pay. My attention was arrested in a marked manner by the answers to questions Nos. 1137, 1185, 1356, 1403, 1617, 1765, and 2234.

I marked with pencil various passages in the book as I read it, which was done with the intention of making an abstract or summary of its contents for the department and others who might feel interested in the matter; but I have con-eluded that the value of any such epitome would not compensate for the labor of making it, and that in any event the unabridged original would be more satisfactory to those who should wish to examine the questions thoroughly, and I therefore send the book to the department. It is probably already in the department library, but it is also possible that the attention of yourself and of the appropriate committees of Congress has not been called to its interesting contents. It will of course be understood that in marking so many passages in the book I have not thereby always indicated my approval of the opinions expressed, or indicated any opinion of the significance of the facts stated, but only that the matter noted was worthy of consideration in making such a synopsis of the evidence as I had at first intended doing.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


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