Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams

No. 2116.]

Sir: I have received your dispatch of the 11th of December, No. 1492, and have carefully read the papers touching the law of expatriation to which you refer.

They are acceptable indications of a disposition in a certain quarter to relieve the two governments of the embarrassments which have arisen from the unnecessary and indiscreet assertion in Great Britain of a principle which has become practically obsolete. It is expected that Congress will, immediately after reconvening, bring the legislative department of this government explicitly into concord with the executive department upon the question. When that shall have been done, the President will be prepared to express his official opinion concerning it for the information of her Majesty’s government. You are quite right in saying that it is very desirable to remove the causes of future collision on the subject. At the same time I think it necessary to say that, in view of the failure hitherto to obtain a satisfactory settlement of our complaints against Great Britain which occurred during the late rebellion in the United States, and in view also of the severity which continues to be practiced by the courts of law in Great Britain discriminating against native Irishmen duly naturalized in the United States, I do not think that a situation exists in the United States favorable to the initiation of negotiations by this department limited to the single purpose of obtaining a revision of the law concerning expatriation.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Charles Francis Adams, Esq., &c., &c., &c.