Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward.

No. 469.]

Sir: The new army bill, after being discussed for several weeks in the house of representatives, passed that body on the 13th instant, by a vote of 66 to 35, the only important modification in the original proposition of the government being a reduction by it to 2,000 addition to the annual contingent instead of the 3,000 men asked for. The sentiment seems to be very decided that, in view of the preparations for war on all sides, Belgium must put herself in a better condition of defence for the event of war, and also to suppress disorders in time of peace, and several influential members of the opposition have aided with their votes to swell the majority of the government.

The necessity of an army to quell domestic disturbance also, which the minister of finance insisted upon in his closing speech, has been painfully illustrated in the past few days.

On the 26th an outbreak of workmen occurred in the thickly peopled mining and manufacturing district of Charleroi, caused by a reduction of wages and diminution of time of labor by the employers of the coal miners; the troops were called in to quell it, some 2,500 in all, and 8 or 10 of the people were killed and a number wounded. Tranquillity is for the moment restored, but the cause of its disturbance remains—insufficient wages and work in a time of unusual distress and dearness of provisions.

The disturbance has no political character.

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


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