Mr. Leas to Mr. F. W. Seward.
Sir: Some twelve or fifteen years ago there was a large emigration from this island to the United States, growing out of a religious persecution at the time against such of the Portuguese citizens as had embraced the Protestant faith. Those persons who were thus persecuted and violently driven from the island were mainly from among the lower or poorer classes. After their arrival in the United States they nearly all went to the State of Illinois, where they settled, and, report states, made most worthy and excellent citizens. It so happens, however, that some of them, or their children, return to this climate for the restoration of their health, and here die, leaving no means whatever to defray their funeral expenses; as they are Protestants the Portuguese authorities will not allow them a burial within the Portuguese cemeteries, and as there is no other place for the burial of the dead, save the English cemetery, we are obliged to inter their remains there, and pay some $1, which must come out of the pocket of the United States consul, or such other charitable persons as may choose to unite with the consul in defraying the expenses. As a case of this kind occurred only last week, I beg most respectfully to ask if in such case the consul can be allowed to charge reasonable funeral expenses to the United States government; in other words, is a United States consul authorized to cause the interment of indigent American citizens, other than seamen, at the expense of the United States government? Here, for example, there is no place to bury the poor, save in the Portuguese cemeteries, and in them no Protestant can be interred; therefore, the question occurs again in this form, what is to be done with American citizens, who die within this consular jurisdiction without having left means for giving their remains a burial, who are Protestants.
With great respect, I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,
Hon. F. W. Seward, Assistant Secretary of State, Washington.