Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Fish.
Berlin , January 12, 1874. (Received January 30.)
Sir: On the 6th instant I received the following telegram in cipher from our minister at London:
I have just received the following which I am instructed to transmit to you and Kramer at Copenhagen. A report reaches here that Germany is in treaty with Denmark for the acquisition of her West India Islands, proposing to fulfill her existing treaty and to cede North Schleswig. Inquire discreetly and ascertain the truth of the report. Transfer of the possession of those islands to another European power could not be regarded with favor by this Government.
I had just time to send you, by the Bremen steamer of Saturday, an answer on the subject, and to-day I can only affirm what I have written on former occasions.[Page 440]
It is on the highest authority that I assure you that the boundary negotiations between Denmark and Germany have not been renewed.
Further, in time past I am very certain that the idea has never been entertained on either the side of Denmark or of Germany to transfer Saint Thomas to the latter power. As to the present I cannot find the slightest reason to believe that any such negotiation is on foot or even in contemplation.
The decisions in the Alabama case respecting the extent to which a neutral power may furnish coals to a war-ship of a belligerent have naturally brought home to the German navy department a sense of the feebleness of their position in foreign seas in the event of a war, and so may have given rise to the wish for the possession of coaling stations, especially in the eastern Asiatic seas. But it does not change their general policy not to hold in foreign seas posts that would but be new points for attack for a fleet in time of war.
I remain, &c.,