No. 147.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Cramer.

No. 302.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 504, on the subject of negotiating a convention of extradition with Denmark, was duly received and has had careful consideration.

You therein report that the Government of His Danish Majesty is favorably disposed to respond to the overture of the United States for the conclusion of an extradition treaty, and is prepared to conclude such a treaty when desired, conducting the negotiations at Copenhagen. The Danish minister of foreign affairs, however, suggests three particulars in which a departure from the model of the existing conventions of extradition of the United States with foreign powers, would be acceptable to Denmark:

  • First. An increase in the list of crimes, especially under the head of forgery, but without specifying any particular crimes;
  • Second. To have criminals provisionally arrested by telegraphic orders to the consuls at the ports where such fugitives may be supposed to land; and
  • Third. The curtailment of expenses connected with the arrest and delivery of fugitives.

In illustration of the character of the treaties already concluded between Denmark and foreign powers, and as showing what kind of a treaty would be acceptable with the United States, the minister has furnished you with copies of the treaties with Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Of these that with Great Britain so nearly approximates to the treaties of the United States in its schedule of offenses for which extradition is provided, that but little trouble need be found in attaining an agreement on that point. The other treaties mentioned contain many offenses in their respective schedules not found in the treaties of the United States, or more specific definition and extension of crimes already provided for under our general terms. Such exactness and diffuseness of subdivision doubtless responds to the [Page 310] similarity of the codes of European countries one to another, and the analogies of their systems of government, but it is believed to be unnecessary in a treaty with this country, if not also positively prejudicial to the aim of such a treaty and the ends of justice by admitting room for uncertainty in the interpretation of specific provisos, which would in many cases be found comprised in a general enunciation. For example, “wounds or injuries preventing work for more than 20 days,” “involuntary maiming or permanent injury resulting from willful assault,” and the like, are, in most proper cases, covered by the broad definition of “assault with intent to commit murder,” found in our conventions.

So far, therefore, as the enumeration of extraditable crimes is concerned, the treaty between the United States and Spain may be taken as the most modern of our conventions, and as indicating the latitude of negotiation in this respect.

With regard to the suggestion that provisional arrest be provided for by authorizing a telegraphic demand, it may be observed that the procedure is already followed as an act of courtesy in most cases arising between the United States and foreign countries, although not expressly stipulated in the treaties therewith, except in the solitary instance of Peru.

The proviso suggested by the minister for the curtailment of expenses is not fully understood here, either on his statement or upon examination of the Danish treaties you submit. It would seem proper that any proposal on this point should come from the Danish Government as a specific amendment, which, if offered, will be carefully considered with every disposition to a favorable result.

In view of the foregoing you are authorized to confer with the Danish minister for foreign affairs, or such other person as may be designated for the purpose, to the end of agreeing upon a draft of a convention of extradition between the two countries in substantial accord with that between the United States and Spain, enlarging, if desired, the defined offense of forgery to include the forgery of private cheques not commercial. When such a draft is agreed upon it may be reduced to the form of a provisional protocol, which, after signing, shall receive the consideration of the respective governments, with a view to its adoption, after amendment if necessary. When the two governments shall have reached a substantial agreement as to the scope and text of the proposed convention, full powers will be transmitted to you to sign it.

You will keep the Department fully advised of all negotiations on this subject, transmitting especially dated copies of all drafts exchanged between you and the Danish representative, whether they be of the treaty in extenso, or of simple amendments thereto.

I am, &c.,