Mr. Seward to Mr. Bancroft.
Sir: I recur on this occasion to your dispatch No. 36, and to my answer thereto, No. 45, of which latter paper this dispatch may be considered a supplement. Inquiry has been made and full consideration has been bestowed upon the two subjects which you have presented, and upon which the opinion of the President was reserved.
I have now to say, first, that neither of those questions is in any case to be connected with the negotiation, or with such treaty as you may be able to make concerning the naturalization question.
Secondly, that you are at liberty to treat with the government of North Germany upon the first of those reserved questions which concern the mutual freedom of trade upon the broad foundation which, in your No. 36, you propose to adopt.
In regard to the second question which concerns the inviolability of private persons and property in war, we must still defer any proceeding to commit this government, for the reason that in the present condition of our relations with one of the European powers, any proposition to a foreign state for the inviolability of private persons and property on the high seas, could not be expected to find favor with the Senate of the United States or with the country. The principle which Franklin proposed is widely cherished, and there exists an earnest desire among us to give it vitality, thus at once vindicating Franklin’s philanthropic foresight, and securing to ourselves and to our country a new distinction for humanity and benevolence.
It is not to be understood that the President thinks that the time has not arrived, but only that the immediate condition is unfavorable.
Your private letter of the 7th of February is received and has been submitted to the President.
The cable has a statement that your treaty upon the naturalization question is complete. I hope that it may be followed by prompt action on the part of Great Britain. In that case I will again bring your proposition concerning the inviolability of private property in war to the consideration of the President and his constitutional advisers.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
George Bancroft, Esq., &c., &c., &c.[Page 50]