Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 245.]

Sir: On the 4th instant I received from Thomas B. Van Buren, esq., consul-general of the United States at Kanagawa, a communication dated the 3d instant, relative to the extradition of a person charged with the embezzlement of the money of his employers, and who, it is alleged, has taken refuge in California, a copy of which communication I have the honor to inclose herewith, (inclosure 1.)

It seemed to me proper to acquaint the consul-general that, in my opinion, he had no jurisdiction in the case as stated, nor was the party charged, assuming him to be an English subject, within the extradition [Page 818] provisions of the existing treaties between England and the United States; a copy of which opinion, as sent to the consul-general, is herewith, (inclosure 2.)

It seems to me that rules 279 and 280 (Revised Consular Regulations, page 68) manifestly adopted in aid of the act of 1860, (12 Statutes at Large, page 84, section 1,) necessarily imply that the consul-general has no jurisdiction in cases of the extradition of criminals, save when expressly instructed by the Department of State or the diplomatic representative of the United States to assist in the arrest and detention of criminals for their extradition from a foreign country to the United States.

These rules would seem to exclude the conclusion that the consul-general of the United States could take action in Japan for the extradition of a British subject from the United States to Japan “to be tried in a British court,” as the consul-general states.

So far as I know, the only extradition-treaty provisions now in force between the United States and Great Britain are contained in the 10th article of the Webster and Ash burton treaty, negotiated at Washington 9th August, 1842. That treaty makes no provision for the extradition of persons charged with the embezzlement of the money of their employers, or with the embezzlement of public money.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 245.]

Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Bingham.

Sir: At the request of Mr. Brooke, editor of the Japan Herald, I write to ask your opinion and advice upon a matter connected with the existing extradition treaty between England and the United States.

A collector for the Herald and some other business houses has decamped on the Great Republic for San Francisco, carrying with him quite an amount of money belonging to his employers.

The latter desire to arrest him, and, if possible, have him brought back here for trial. They desire to know—

Does the extradition treaty permit extradition for the crime of embezzlement?
Does it permit the extradition of the accused to the empire of Japan to be tried in a British court?
If yes, what steps are necessary, and who is the proper officer to whom to apply here for the necessary papers?
Can the accused be arrested in San Francisco and held to await the necessary papers by a telegram?

My own opinion is that the accused cannot be brought here, but I shall await your advice.

Your obedient servant,


Hon. John A. Bingham,
United States Minister.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 245.]

Mr. Bingham to Mr. Van Buren.

Sir: Your communication of the 3d instant, in relation to the extradition of a person who has lied to the United States, accused of embezzlement while in the employment of Mr. Brooke, has been received.

[Page 819]

I infer from the tenor of your communication that the person charged is a British subject, and committed his offense in Japan.

It is my opinion that the question raised by Mr. Brooke, whether the person so charged and now in the United States can be arrested there under the extradition provisions of our existing treaties with Great Britain, is a question over which you have no jurisdiction, and that the party so charged is not by said treaties liable to be arrested in the United States for the crime charged against him, and therefore would not be surrendered under the existing treaties as a fugitive from justice to be returned to Japan to answer before a British tribunal.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Thos. B. Van Buren, Esq.
United States Consul-General, Yokohama.