No. 19.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Delaplaine.

No. 429.]

Sir: Your dispatch, No. 767, upon the subject of the international sanitary conference held in Vienna, has been received.

It appears by this dispatch that the conference assembled in Vienna upon the 1st of July last; and you state that, as no communication had been received from this Department, you were unable satisfactorily to I answer a verbal inquiry of Baron Schwegel as to the cause of the absence of a delegate from the United States, and who expressed his surprise, saying that an invitation had been addressed to this Government in the early part of May, through Baron Lederer, who had reported its acceptance and his belief that an eminent military physician would be appointed a delegate; and that a similar inquiry had been addressed to you by Baron de Gagern, who also expressed regret at the absence of an American representative. The desire of this Government to manifest every appreciation of the courtesy shown by the Austrian government in extending the invitation referred to, and the remarks made to you and detailed in your dispatch, render an explanation proper.

Baron Lederer, the Austrian envoy, first addressed this Department on the question by a note dated the 16th June, and which was received at this Department on the 24th of June. In it he explained the preliminary steps which had been taken by the Austrian government, inclosed a copy of the programme and of the questions to be discussed at the conference, which he stated would be held at Vienna in the month of January, 1875, and informed this Department that his government had instructed him to invite the Government of the United States to send delegates to such conference, and requested information whether this Government was disposed to accept the invitation.

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Fully appreciating the invitation, and desirous of favoring the objects set forth in the programme of the conference, this Department, upon July 3d, forwarded a copy of the dispatch of the Austrian minister to the Secretary of War, requesting an expression of his opinion on the matter, as a delegate would more probably be selected from his Department.

Upon the 18th July the Secretary of War addressed his reply to this Department, stating that the objects of the conference made it desirable that this Government should be represented, and approving the recommendation of the Surgeon-General of the Army that Dr. J. J. Woodward, assistant surgeon, United States Army, be designated to represent the United States.

On the 5th of August this Department received information from the Austrian minister that the conference in question had already terminated, and that the sending of a delegate by the United States was not necessary.*

It will be seen, therefore, that this Government had appreciated both the courtesy of the Austrian government and the importance of the conference, and had acted upon the official information which had been received that the conference would meet in January, 1875; and first learned the contrary after the termination of the conference.

You will explain this matter fully to the Austrian government, that no misapprehension may exist from the failure of this Government to send a representative.

I am, &c.,

  1. See correspondence with the legation of Austria-Hungary, infra.