No. 285.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Evarts .

No. 21.]

Sir: Referring to your instruction No. 161 of the 1st ultimo, requesting [Page 453] the minister to call the attention of the imperial foreign office to the question of the arrest of American citizens in Germany, I have the honor to inform you that I lost no time after the return of Count Limburg-Stirum from his Christmas vacation to call at the foreign office and present in person a copy of the substance of the above instruction, which his excellency allowed me to read to him.

In reply, his excellency pleaded the difficulty in distinguishing between the bona fide and dishonest returning emigrant, and repeated what his predecessors have said as to its being the duty of local officials to refer all cases to their chiefs in Berlin. This I assured his excellency had not been done in any of the cases coming to the legation, as far as we could ascertain, and that our experience was that, in the cases where the circular copy of the naturalization treaty and ministerial decrees had been forwarded to the persons in trouble by the legation, that this was the first knowledge which the officials had of these documents, and that though they sometimes expressed their indifference to them, yet we had reason to suppose that occasionally our circular was the cause of the freedom of Americans from further annoyance. I stated that this had been found to be the case even in Berlin, and not merely in remote provincial towns. His excellency said that all officials whom it concerned were supposed to be furnished with a copy of the treaty and decrees, and that he would cause the matter to be investigated, and a reply sent to the legation in the same courteous and friendly spirit in which your instruction was worded.

As regards such arrests and cases as occurred in Alsace-Lorraine, his excellency said that previous cases of leniency must not be used as test cases, as his government must still insist that the naturalization treaty does not apply to Alsace-Lorraine; that the German Government had already, both through its minister at Washington and our minister here, offered to receive proposals for a supplementary convention to extend the existing treaty to Alsace-Lorraine, and that until some reply from the American Government had been received to that offer matters must remain as they were, as it was not for the interest of the German Government to alter them.

In reply to my question whether it would not be possible by a general order of the Imperial Government, as suggested in your instruction, to modify the local laws of Alsace-Lorraine so far as they applied to returning Americans, his excellency said that he could not give any answer to that question until an answer was received to his proposal for a supplementary treaty, which the German Government considered the simplest way of meeting the numerous difficulties of the situation.

For your further information I will add that there are at present six cases in Alsace-Lorraine decided adversely to us, and three awaiting decision, besides two cases of fine not in Alsace-Lorraine still undecided.

I have, &c.,