No. 172.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Evarts.

No. 105.]

Sir: I have the honor to report for your consideration to occurrence which I have felt obliged to make the subject of a representation to the German foreign office.

During the past week William Knoth, who has been the messenger of this legation for nearly five years, was summoned to appear before the military authorities for duty on the reserve list. He reported himself Accordingly, duly provided with the official certificate of his position in the legation, which has heretofore always been sufficient to secure his immediate discharge. On this occasion, however, he returned with a note from the military authorities to the effect that he could no longer be exempted, and that he must report himself for twelve days’ military duty on the 22d instant.

I immediately addressed a note (Inclosure 1) to Mr. von Bülow requesting the servant’s discharge as the legation could ill dispense with his services. To this a prompt verbal answer was brought by one of the secretaries of the foreign office to the effect that Mr. von Bülow had been unable to obtain from the military authorities any concession in favor of Knoth. I then addressed a private note to Mr. von Bülow repeating the appeal more in detail, but his answer only encouraged me to hope that by addressing him another official note I might obtain a diminution of our messenger’s term of service.

I accordingly have to-day sent the note (Inclosure 2) to the foreign office which I trust will have the desired effect. I shall forward the reply to you as soon as received.

* * * * * * *

There might be various reasons why the representatives of nations immediately bordering on Germany should submit to this military requisition to avoid raising any international difficulties in addition to those already existing between them and Germany, but I cannot think it well for the United States, which are so liberal to foreigners in this respect, to allow this to pass without protest, and a distinct statement from the German Government as to what we have a right to expect from them in the way of diplomatic privileges.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 105.]

Mr. Everett to Mr. von Bülow.

The undersigned, charge d’affaires ad interim of the United States of America, has the honor to request his excellency Mr. von Bülow, imperial minister of foreign [Page 375] affairs, will take measures to have William Knoth, who has been for nearly five years the servant of this legation, dispensed from military service for which he has been summoned on the 22d of April. His absence would be a serious inconvenience to the legation, and in previous years there has been no difficulty in obtaining his exemption as a matter of official courtesy, but by the inclosed letter his excellency will perceive that the usual certificate, &c., from this legation has proved unavailing this year.

The undersigned, hoping that this matter will receive the speedy attention of his excellency in view of the shortness of the notice, avails himself of this occasion to renew to his excellency the assurance of his most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Mr. von Bülow, &c., &c., &.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 105.]

Mr. Everett to Mr. von Bülow.

The undersigned, charge d’affaires of the United States of America, has the honor to express his regret to his excellency Mr. von Bülow, imperial minister for foreign affairs, that the request of this legation on the 21st instant for the release of its servant, Wilhelm Knoth, from military service could not be complied with, and the undersigned would respectfully request to be furnished with an official statement of the fact, heretofore unknown to the legation, that the servants of the legation are not exempt from military service.

The undersigned, in view of the great inconvenience suffered by the legation from being now without a messenger would be glad if his excellency would obtain a diminution of the time of Wilhelm Knoth’s service, without, however, intending thereby to concede the right of the military authorities to deprive the legation, even for a short time, of its messenger.

The undersigned, subject to the superior instruction of his government, to which he has reported this occurrence, cannot but regard this action of the military authorities as a compulsory demand on the legation for one of its servants, and therefore as inconsistent with the principles of international law as expounded by German as well as English and American jurists.

The undersigned would call the attention of his excellency to the fact that the servants of the legation, and of the families of both ministers and secretaries, have heretofore been exempted from taxation on the production of official proof of their service, and the undersigned fails to perceive why a distinction should be made as regards military obligations.

His excellency must be fully aware of the very liberal privileges accorded by American statute law as to the servants of foreign missions, and the mere fact that obligatory military service is not a part of the American Constitution would hardly seem to be a reason for a want of reciprocal international concessions on the part of the German Government.

The undersigned, while awaiting further instructions from his government in regard to this matter, gladly avails himself of this occasion to renew to his excellency, Mr. von Bülow, the assurance of his distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Mr. von Bülow,
&c., &c., &c.