Mr. Seward to Mr. Berthemy

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 14th instant, on the subject of the convention concluded at Geneva on the 22d of August, 1864, for the purpose of securing humane treatment to soldiers wounded in battle. In reply, I have the honor to state that although the object of the convention is believed to have been laudable, the military authorities of the United States have, in time of war, voluntarily observed the principal rules prescribed in the treaty, and are not likely to disregard them under any circumstances. The possibility that they might be disregarded by either of the parties to the instrument if at war with the United States, to the detriment of soldiers of this country, is believed to involve contingencies quite too remote and improbable to afford sufficient ground for us to enter into a treaty upon the subject.

It has always been deemed at least a questionable policy, if not unwise, for the United States to become a party to any instrument to which there are many other parties. Nothing but the most urgent necessity should lead to a departure from this rule. It is believed that the case to which your note refers is not one which would warrant such a course. Accept, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.


M. Berthemy, &c., &c., &c.