Mr. Fish to Mr. Beardsley .
No. 69.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 90, of the 30th of April last, relative to the case of Leopold Ungar, has been received. It is apprehended that your zeal to protect the supposed rights of that person as a citizen of the United States may have influenced you not to allow due weight to the fact that jurisdiction over him appears to have been claimed by the German consul-general, not alone or chiefly because he was an alleged Prussian subject, but because he was charged with the commission of a criminal offense at Cologne. As you had proof of that charge, if he had even been a native of this country this fact alone should not have led you to resist his extradition, unless there should have been ground to suppose that the charge was a mask to get possession of Ungar for a political offense.

In an elaborate letter, addressed to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives on the 24th of June, 1864, by my predecessor, Mr. Seward, the following propositions were set forth as applicable to cases arising under general international law and not regulated by treaty:

That “the object to be accomplished in all these cases [of extradition] is alike interesting to each government, namely, the punishment of malefactors, the common enemy of every society. While the United States affords an asylum to all whom political differences at home have driven abroad, it repels malefactors and is grateful to their government for undertaking their pursuit and relieving us from their intrusive presence.”
That the sole elements of consideration upon which the Executive “is to determine whether or not a proposed case of extradition should or should not call forth the exercise of this power [the power of extradition] and duty under the law of nations and the precepts of humane and Christian civilization,” are “the traits of the alleged criminality, as involving heinous guilt against the laws of universal morality and the safety of human society, and the gravity of the consequences which will attend the exercise of the power in question, or its refusal.”

It is expected that these carefully considered views of the Department will govern and regulate the action of all its subordinates. As the United States would not desire to retain such malefactors within their borders, so they do not think it right to have the power of their name used to shield such in the territories of friendly powers, any further than may be necessary to insure to the persons accused of crime the fair preliminary hearing which may satisfy an impartial magistrate that there is just cause to believe that the accused has committed the crime with which he is charged, and which may also satisfy the representative [Page 1312] of the United States that the charge is not put forth for the purpose of getting possession of the person of a political offender.

Under the circumstances, your right to the copy of papers which you demanded of Mr. Jasmund may be deemed so questionable that the Department will not address to the German government a complaint for his refusal thereof.

I am, &c.,