No. 156.
Mr. Evarts to Mr. Noyes.

No. 148.]

Sir: The President having been informed by Mr. Ferdinand de Lesseps that an international conference, under the auspices of the Geographical Society of Paris, is to meet at that place on the 15th proximo, and invited to send delegates on behalf of the United States, has concluded to designate Rear Admiral Daniel Ammen and Civil Engineer A. J. Menocal, of the United States Navy, for that purpose, especially as the conference proposes to discuss the various projects which have been suggested for the construction of an interoceanic canal across the Isthmus of Panama.

The conference is understood not to partake in any way of an official [Page 340] or diplomatic character, but to be simply an informal gathering of scientific men who desire to interchange views regarding the best mode of executing a scheme in which the whole civilized world is necessarily deeply interested. These gentlemen, therefore, thus commissioned by the President, will have no official powers or diplomatic functions, and are not authorized to hold official communication with the French government or its officers, except such as may by virtue of their connection with the French Geographical Society, or as delegates ad hoc, take part in the proceedings of the conference. Furthermore, they are not empowered to state what will be the decision of this government in regard to the points involved, or the line of action it will pursue.

A copy of the instructions by which the delegates are expected to be governed is herewith inclosed for your information. I inclose an open letter, addressed to Mr. de Lesseps, accepting the invitation extended to the United States, which I will thank you to cause to be sealed and delivered or forwarded to that gentleman after you shall have read it.

I am, &c.,