Mr. Harrington to Mr. Seward.

No. 68.]

Sir: Under date of the 27th of July, my No. 62, I had the honor to transmit copies of a correspondence consequent upon the arrest of Mr. Charles Berry by the authorities of Basle.

Since that date two communications have been exchanged between this legation and the high federal council, occasioned by a supplementary reply of the authorities of Basle to my communication to the federal council of the 27th of July.

Of this correspondence copies will be found herewith. It presents some curious points. The Basle authorities condemn the trustee, Stehlin, and have, I am informed, reprimanded him. While they claim that the alleged early transgressions of the girl (for the charges appear to be confined to a period long anterior to her marriage with Berry, of which they carefully abstain from alleging that Berry had knowledge) are sufficient to justify their acts against him. Of this, however, I conceive that I have nothing to do.

It is proper to add, that in settling the estate, it was understood that no further claim for damages for arrest and imprisonment should be preferred by Mr. Berry, nor on his account by the government of the United States, Upon this assurance the five thousand francs advanced by his mother will be considered as a gift, and that amount heretofore deducted from the fortune, formerly in the hands of the trustee, will be or has been paid over to him or his agent.

I have given no assurances in the premises, and shall await advices from the department.

I am clearly of the opinion that our position has been fully vindicated [Page 222] so far as Berry is considered, and that hereafter there will be no farther arrests of American citizens without good and justifiable cause.

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


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


The High Federal Council to Mr. Harrington.

The federal council has hastened to communicate to the government of the canton of the city of Basle the late note which Mr. Minister Resident of the United States of America to the Swiss confederation addressed it on the 27th of July last, concerning the claim of Mr. Charles Berry, a naturalized American citizen, and this communication has elicited from the aforesaid government the reply which the federal council has the honor to transmit herewith in copy to Mr. Harrington, with a number of accompanying documents in support thereof, marked A and B, being annexes which Mr. Minister Resident is requested to return after having taken note of them.

The federal council believes that Mr. Harrington will be ready to concur in thinking that this affair has been sufficiently elucidated, and that there is no occasion to revert to it, Mr. Berry having gone through the formalities prescribed for the emigration of a Swiss citizen as a native of Basle, and having in fact become disconnected from the ties which bound him to his native country.

The federal council embraces this new occasion to renew to Mr. Minister Resident of the United States of America the assurances of its high consideration.

In the name of the federal council, the president of the confederation,

DUBS. The Chancellor of the Confederation.

Mr. George Harrington, Minister Resident of the United States of America, &c., &c., &c., Berne.

(With a copy and two annexes, A and B.)

The Bourgermaster and Council of the Canton of Basleville to the High Federal Council.


In regard to the note of the American legation, dated July 27, and transmitted to us the 3d instant, concerning Charles Berry, we have the honor to give the following explanations:

First of all, we think objectionable the declaration of the American legation that “the otherwise unsatisfactory report of the authorities of Basle compelled him to seek elsewhere for explanations,” and such unofficial information ought to have been submitted with the other documents, in order to enable us to express ourselves more clearly in relation thereto, or they should not be regarded of value as against our statements of the facts. In this case it is of the more importance, because it has been unnecessarily exaggerated, and in fact really distracted.

Being obliged to repel earnestly all the charges and one-sided criticisms in the case, we are still ready to show our willingness to give to the egation all necessary explanations in the matter.

The fact that the high federal council has given, on the main point, to the legation an answer in accordance with our law and our views, renders unnecessary a more detailed reply to that voluminous paper.

Throughout that document the idea is kept up that Berry, as an American citizen, has entirely and long ago ceased to be a citizen of Basle, and that therefore the American authorities had the right, and it was their duty, to protect him against the enactments of our canton. However strongly this supposition is asserted, it is groundless as against existing facts and our laws.

Berry, who was discharged from his citizenship on the 27th June last, was a citizen of Basle until that day. The question why Berry was once put under guardianship has [Page 223] no business here; it is sufficient that the reasons therefor were cogent enough, and our judicial proceedings, previous to the withdrawal of civil rights, presented every desirable guarantee.

The trustee had to deliver annually an account of the administration of the property, and to send the interest of it to his minor, &c.; in short, the entire condition was a legal one, and recognized as such by all. Berry himself never doubted this a moment until he commenced to make bold front against his trustee with his American citizenship in order to get his property. This he did not do until the beginning of the last year.

By article thirteen of our laws in relation to allegiance, (inclosed hereby.) Berry could be discharged therefrom only by a definite resolution of the council, and it required the consent of his trustee.

On the 15th of June last, Berry forwarded from Stuttgart an application for his discharge of allegiance; the trustee recommended it; the city council agreed to it: and we gave him this discharge and made it public. The concerning documents we have annexed, marked A.

By all this it is clearly shown that Mr. Berry was till then a citizen of Basle, and considered himself as such.

The note of the minister resident shows a very grave misapprehension by producing the case of Ostermann in support of a theory which we do not wish further to discuss, as the federal council has already advised the legation; By the sentence of the court at Colmar, Ostermann was declared to be a citizen of Basle and to be no longer a citizen of France, because the French law prescribes, directly contrary to our law, that all persons who become citizens of foreign countries, lose thereby their French citizenship.

If Berry’s citizenship of Basle is fully substantiated, then all the remarks of that note about the measures taken to take care of Berry fall to the ground.

It is to be regretted that the legation did not get a more minute insight into our laws; it could have been spared all these erroneous judgments which it repeatedly brings against us.

First of all it is a capital error to speak of “confinement to hard labor,” “incarceration in a states prison,” to make “travail forcé” out of administrative decisions, which, having strict regard to the character of such cases, are executed or inflicted in other places than the public penitentiaries. For example, Mr. Berry would have been brought doubtless to Mr. Werner’s establishment at Reutlingen.

The law in regard to the situation of persons in houses of correction, which we append, also, will show that it has nothing to do with crimes, and all that is said about the nonexistence of such in this case, is needless. And, as the American legation goes so far as to represent Berry as a man upon whom no blame really falls, we submit for examination the report of the trustee marked B. This shows Mr. and Mrs. Berry in a light sufficient to justify the government in taking care of him. As before stated, we had decided negatively in the matter before the communication of the federal department of justice and police had reached us informing us of the reclamation, and asking for explanations.

Otherwise it appears to us a little far sought, that his status of an American citizen is so partially forced upon our common countrymen, and everything disregarded that kept him in connection with his original and never given up home.

We must repeat here that at the time of the preliminary arrangements nothing was known to us about his American citizenship. If this had been known to us, we should, as stated above, have had the right to treat him as a Balois, but it is possible that this fact would have served to dismiss the matter.

There are two more points on which we have yet to express ourselves. The first point regards the way and manner of the trustee in having his ward come here to Basle. We agree so little with it that we must declare the insinuation of the note as to the act having been done with our understanding, as incorrect.

The second point regards the protracted imprisonment of Berry, and the letter to the consul, which the director of police did not deliver at once.

The arrest of Berry was upon the whole entirely in order. It was in consequence of the request that he should be taken care of, and this request was not, as stated in the note, the request of a single individual, but of the trustee and the whole family. For example, the brother-in-law of Berry, the military commissary here, was therein person. The prisoner declared at once that he would submit to the inflicted custody, (he had civil detention, two rooms, good board, the permission to smoke, and to promenade in the yard;) he recognized the right of the Basle government to dispose of him, but declared that if informations from Stuttgart should be acquired he would not be placed in a house of correction. At that time he did not appeal to his American citizenship, Soon after he wrote to his wife; the letter was sent at once. After this he submitted a letter to the director of police for the United States consul here. The director of police replied that it was his mission to treat him as a citizen of Basle, with the view to an investigation and his being taken care of, and he could not admit that Berry should at once involve other authorities in the matter; afterwards would be time for this. Since then nothing further was spoken of that letter; Berry never mentioned it again. The director of police had so little intention to wrong him that he at once laid the letter [Page 224] one side with the other documents and delivered it to Mr. Consul Wolff upon his first request.

Notwithstanding the letter was repeated, the report from Stuttgart did not arrive for a long time, because Mrs. Berry had left Stuttgart in order to make reclamations, or, at least, had sent the papers away for that purpose, whereby she committed the great fault of setting aside the authorities of Basle.

We hope that the foregoing may serve to enlighten the American legation as to how much this Berry and his affairs might be taken in consideration from our point of view, and that the censures made do not appear to be justified.

We seize this occasion, &c.,

The Bourgermaster, C. T. BURKHARDT,
The Secretary, GOETTISHEIM, Dr.

Report of Mr. Stehlin, trustee of Mr. Berry, to the Bourgermaster and Council of Basleville.

The humble undersigned feels himself under the sad necessity to apply to your honors to have his ward Charles Berry placed in the house of correction at Kalshrain.

The reasons forcing me, with the consent of the mother and other relations of my pupil, to apply for this most extreme measure have their foundation partially in a time past, but partially and specially the present. Charles Berry showed after his majority such a light character, such an inclination to extravagance, and so little desire and ability for any sort of labor, and suffered himself to be deceived and taken advantage of by so-called friends in such a manner, that in the year 1857 application had to be made to declare him deprived of his civil rights, and the application was granted by the court of wards on the 7th January, 1858, and I was appointed as his trustee. The property which I held in trust then amounted to 25,000 francs and is the same yet.

The adventures and lot of my ward during the last eleven years have been various. At the beginning, the director of a college, Mr. Kettiger in Weltingen, attempted his education, but in vain. Berry then entered the military service of the kingdom of Naples, and, it is said, behaved himself well. The events of 1860 forced him to return home. I kept him occupied at first in my own office with copying. Colonel H. Wie-land employed him for the same purpose, but he unfortunately could not hold this position by reason of culpable offense. Military service had to be sought for, as only such continual discipline would suit a character like his, and he had no objection thereto. He concluded to go to America and to enter the armies of the United States. During the civil war there all went on well, but as soon as Berry quitted the service and was thrown on the pavement of New York, the misery recommenced because he could not get accustomed to any orderly civil occupation. In the fall of 1865 he surprised his family with the news that he had married; giving the name of his wife as “Bertha Uimer,” and speaking of her in the most tender and affectionate terms. At the same time he requested the delivery of his property or a part thereof for the purpose of buying a so-called cafe-saloon in New York, and demanded the restoration of his civil rights. I could hot respond to his wishes, but his mother let him have 5,000 francs and with them he purchased one of those numerous establishments in New York. Not long after, in the beginning of 1867 he tried again to force the delivery of his property, basing his claim on his rights as an American citizen. First, a notary received a power of attorney to collect the money, then the American consul. I declared to both of them that I would not deliver the property and titles confided to me without a judicial sentence to that effect.

In the meantime my ward had to abandon the management of that cafe-saloon and was deprived of all honest means of subsistence, once more upon the streets, his pretended wife with him. This seemed to have induced her to come to Europe in order to manage personally the delivery of the money. She made her appearance in August, 1867; was lodging, being in bad health, for several weeks in a hotel, till Madame Berry-Bruderlin resolved to take her to her house at Zurich. The original intention, to return to New York, was given up by her, when she saw that the obtainment of her husband’s property met with invincible obstructions. It was therefore resolved that Berry should come to Europe also.

During her sojourn here, Bertha Ulmer presented a certificate of marriage signed by a Rev. Toelke of New York, and dated October 23, 1865, according to which her name was Bertha Ulmer, born on the 29th of June, 1843, at Ludwigsburg. Beside this, she stated that her father had been adjutant of the 7th regiment of infantry of Wurtemberg; that her parents had died and that she had emigrated with her uncle to the United States in 1851 and had lived with him on a farm in Rockland county, State of New York, until she became acquainted with Charles Berry.

[Page 225]

The reimbursement of debts and expenses of Berry, with which the firm Meyer & Leber was charged, offered various difficulties; one creditor, having procured a writ for the arrest of his person, and carried on a law-suit against him. This creditor was one Mr. Sporry, of Zurich, who, by the intervention of some other Zurichois, transmitted to the family of Berry a number of documents relative to that law-suit. These were depositions of witnesses and of a most injuring character for Bertha Ulmer. They stated that this person had lived in New York as a public courtesan for several years and under different names, viz: “Bertha Freundlich,” &c., that she was married to one Peter Weber, who is living now in Norfolk, Virginia, and that by the marriage with Charles Berry she committed bigamy. As a proof of this latter fact a copy of the certificate of marriage, dated May 14, 1864, was annexed, in which the person was named Bertha Freundlich, born on the 29th of June, 1845, at Hamm, district Worms, Grand Duchy of Hessen.

The authority and validity of these statements seemed to me to be questionable, the much more as Bertha Ulmer, whom I interrogated on the subject, denied everything, and weakened the import of these statements by the assertion that such certificates could be bought for a few dollars, if such a man as Sporrey should find it in his interest to do so.

With such a state of affairs, I dared not to take decisive steps, but I endeavored to obtain reliable information in Europe as well as in New York, in which the honorable city clerk assisted me with obliging readiness.

The first result at Hamm, district Worms, was, that no “Bertha Freundlich” was ever born there; that this name was entirely unknown in the register of births of that community.

A twice repeated application at Ludwigsburg had also a negative result. A “Bertha Ulmer” was nowhere to be found, even after the original declarations about her parents were given.

In the meantime one of my agents in New York succeeded in getting Berry released from prison, paid his debts and transported him to Europe. He arrived here at the end of November. Before this, it was arranged that Bertha Ulmer should get in person the papers from Ludwigsburg, necessary for her admission to the Basle citizenship, and, as she alluded to the support of some of her relations there and of a paternal friend, it was decided to have her take up her abode there first.

With this intention Charles Berry and Bertha Ulmer left Basle on the 9th December, 1867. The next letter did not come from Ludwigsburg but from Stuttgart, and it was therein said that they chose rather to live in Stuttgart.

The transmission of the required papers was long delayed; finally, on the 2d of February last, they arrived and were, viz:

1. A certificate of birth;

2. A certificate of marriage.

These papers set forth:

a. That the name of this person is not Bertha but Catherine Ulmer;

b. That she was not born at Ludwigsburg but at Klein-Ingersheim;”

c. That her father was not an adjutant of a Wurtembergian regiment, but a peasant;

d. That the name of her mother was not Bertha Blankenhorn, but Susanna Johannes Wacker, &c., &c.

Private information from a friend of Madame Berry-Bruderlin proved that the mother of Bertha Ulmer was living yet, and, in truth, in very poor circumstances; that Bertha, respectively Catharine, did service in Stuttgart, or, more clearly said, was a public courtesan of the lowest sort; that she was sent by her community to America about seven years ago; that she wanted now a certificate to acknowledge her as a native of that town, in which her father should be designated as an “officer.” She declared her husband to be a Count Charles de Berry, a direct descendant of that ducal family de Berry of France. These papers and private information showed that Charles Berry was the victim of the meanest deceit. However, I tried, assisted by the city clerk to. have these private statements officially confirmed. The magistrates of Klein-Ingers-heim and Besigheim confirmed in all the main points that which the Mend of Madame Berry-Bruderlin had stated.

In the mean time the statement of an officer of the detective police in New York in regard to her history there had been received. These statements, which seem to me to be absolutely trustworthy, confirm not only the depositions of the witnesses in that law-suit, but state a number of facts of the most serious kind; especially they set aside all doubts about the marriage between Bertha Ulmer and Peter Weber.

How much of all this Berry knows, I cannot decide, but I cannot believe that he had no knowledge whatever of these facts. And I also believe that such a condition of affairs would not be suffered if the family and the authorities had knowledge thereof; and for the termination thereof I have no other and better means to propose than that of placing Mr. Berry temporarily in a house of correction with compulsory labor. I shall therefore induce him to come here, in order that the measures prescribed by law may be taken, and especially the police may be addressed thereon.

[Page 226]

By such provision we would at least accomplish the separation of Berry from a cast away person, who had so deceived him by means unknown to us, not, however, by her personal gracefulness, and on the other side Berry would get accustomed to work. Perhaps he will make up his mind again to enter military service, the only occupation for which he is qualified. In his letter from Stuttgart he asserts that he teaches the English language and that he has several pupils, but this believe who may.

Submitting to your honor’s consideration my proposition, I have the honor to remain, &c., &c., &c.


Mr. Harrington to the High Federal Council.

The undersigned, minister resident of the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s communication of the 21st ultimo, covering certain papers relative to the affair of Berry, copies of which will be transmitted to his government.

In accordance with your excellency’s request certain of said papers, as. indicated, are returned herewith.

The undersigned seizes this occasion to renew to the high federal council the assurances of his most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Dr. J. Dubs, President of the Swiss Confederation.