Fish to Mr. Fish.
Berlin , July 27, 1874. (Received August 13.)
Sir: Referring to Mr. Bancroft’s dispatch No. 599, of the 26th of June, I have the honor to transmit herewith a note of Mr. Von Bülow upon the same subject, together with a copy of my reply.
The language of the note of Mr. Von Bülow is such as to indicate a very firm determination to prevent the performance of such acts by our consular officers.
If this intention should be carried out it may cause very serious embarrassments to our system of consular verification of invoices. Mr. Von Bülow does not state whether the objection extends to the taking of testimony of German subjects who appear and testify without opposition on their part. In the expectation of your reply to Mr. Bancroft’s question I have not asked the views of this government on this point.
According to the consular regulations, in the execution of a commission to take testimony the consular officer acts simply as a citizen of the United States. The question thus arises as to how far he can be held liable in his official capacity for such action.
I hope I may receive the views of the Department at an early day, as the government here seems anxious to have the question determined.
In regard to the particular case that has led to the correspondence, I have written to each of the consular officers mentioned therein, except to the consul-general in Berlin, intimating to them the difficulties any further action on their part might create.
In the case of Consul-General Kreismann, I have communicated the same verbally.
I remain, &c.