No. 27.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Delfosse.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 2d instant, informing me that you are instructed to renew the negotiations for an extradition treaty which were terminated in 1868 by the refusal of your government to enter into a convention of complete reciprocity in this respect.

The objection then urged by the King’s minister was understood to be [Page 85] founded upon a provision of Belgian law which Parliament had and still has the power to, repeal.

But the policy of the United States was founded upon a provision of the Constitution of the United States, which Congress cannot repeal or violate, which gives to every person accused of crime the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.

A provision in a treaty permitting one power to refuse to surrender to the other one of its own citizens for trial for an offense committed within the jurisdiction of the latter, must therefore operate to the prejudice of the United States, and be without the complete reciprocity which ought to characterize international agreements.

It is true that some of the treaties of the United States do contain this provision; but it was hoped that the enlightened government of Belgium would, after the experience of the beneficial working of extradition treaties, and especially the recent experience demonstrating their necessity, be willing to follow the liberal examples of more recent treaties.

I regret to hear that your government feels itself forced to adhere to its former position. In so far as you attempt to draw support to it from the recent action of an inferior tribunal in this country, I deem it proper to say that the laws did not afford an opportunity to invite a revision of the action of the court in that case by a higher tribunal. Had there been such an opportunity the President entertains little doubt that the decision would have been reversed, and the course of reasoning upon which it was founded, and to which you refer, would have been shown to be erroneous.

The alternative which your government presents is whether we shall make a partial arrangement for protection against crime or none at all. The President has deemed it his duty to waive his objections against the partial agreement, in the hope that your government may be willing hereafter to extend any arrangement which may now be entered into, so as to become truly reciprocal.

I have, therefore, the honor to inclose for your consideration the draft of a convention framed in accordance with the principles contended for by your government. The President will be willing to submit such a treaty to the Senate for its approval and ratification.

Accept, &c.,

Hamilton Fish.