No. 111.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Evarts.

No. 464.]

Sir: In my dispatch No. 451 I informed you that the diplomatic body here had decided to take up certain general questions of great public interest for discussion in September next.

As a preparatory step, I have thought best to request our consuls in China to furnish me full information regarding the course heretofore followed by them in civil cases arising between the Chinese and our people. I have also asked them for their opinions as to whether the system of trial of such cases in mixed courts, or in the court of the defendant, is preferable.

I have the honor to band to you, herewith, a copy of my circular requesting the information indicated above.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 464.]

circular to the consuls of the united states in china.

Will you be so good as to prepare careful answers to the following questions, and to transmit them to me at your earliest convenience?

—What is the practice at your consulate in civil cases arising between Chinese and our people? Are such cases tried by the officer of the defendant, or by the consul and a native officer sitting as a mixed court?
—If by the officer of the defendant, what native official sits for the trial, in cases where a Chinese is the defendant?
—Are the courts so held open for the personal appearance of the plaintiff and of his witnesses?
—Does the consul attend; and, if so, what position is given him as to seat, &c., and what part does he take in the proceedings?
—If the consul attends, does he take an interpreter? If so, what position is given to the interpreter?
—Is a full and accurate record made of the pleadings, and of the proceedings of the court?
—If so, by whom is the record made; and if by the native assistant of the foreign interpreter, what position is assigned to him?
—Is the record made in English and Chinese? If so, how are such records, or any which are made, certified to?
—To what court do appeals from the decision of the native officer lie?
—If trials are in mixed courts, what native officer acts?
—What positions are assigned to the consul and those with him?
—What records are made, and how are they made?
—What law is taken as binding upon the court?
—How are judgments enforced?
—To what court do appeals lie?
—Generally is it the practice of other consuls at your port to sit in mixed courts, or is the system of trial in the court of the defendant preferred?
Have you any opinion as to which is the preferable procedure? If so, will you be so good as to state it as fully as possible?

Will you please add, also, any remarks on the general subject which may appear appropriate to you?

It is particularly desired that your answers may be here by the middle of September.

I am, &c.,