No. 124.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 289.]

Sir: Although there are very few destitute Americans in France who might become a charge to the French authorities, it happens that the police report cases to me with the request that they be taken in charge by the legation. The minister of foreign affairs and the minister of the interior send also, occasionally, requests of the same nature, and I have recently received from the former a communication inquiring if my Government could not come to the assistance of one Kingston, an American citizen, now at the hospital of Rennes, who, “being a foreigner, cannot remain a charge to the French authorities.”

As I am unable officially to respond favorably to any demand of this kind, I have seized this opportunity to make known to Mr. Duclerc the reason why our Government could not take any action in such cases as the one presented.

I send herewith a copy of my communication on this subject, and hope that it will meet the approval of the Department.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 289.]

Mr. Morton to Mr. Duclerc.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 16th instant, informing me that one James Kingston, an American citizen, against whom a decree of expulsion was rendered, could not be embarked on account of the [Page 263] state of his health, and that he had been admitted to the hospital at Rennes, where he still remains.

Your excellency adds that Kingston, being a foreigner, cannot remain as the charge of the department of Ille-et-Vilaine, and that the minister of the interior, M. Fallières, would like to know if the Government of the United States would not consent to take some action in order to assist this American citizen.

I regret to say that my Government receives from Congress no funds to be used for the purpose of sending home destitute Americans who happen to be abroad (except sailors), or to provide for their necessities, and that I am unable, therefore, to do anything official for Mr. Kingston.

I am very grateful to the French Republic for the charitable assistance given to this American citizen, and for many other acts of the same nature which have come; to my knowledge. But your excellency will pardon me for saying that we do precisely the same thing in America for Frenchmen who may be in need of such assistance, and a glance at the table of emigration will readily show that the proportion of cases of this kind where our authorities are called upon to act must naturally exceed by far the number of cases where European Governments are to provide for destitute Americans.

My countrymen, as a rule, do not come to Europe, to France particularly, without means, and it is very seldom that they become a burden to the French authorities.

The question of returning home destitute Americans has once before been brought officially before my Government, by a note of the 25th of January, 1872, from the French minister at Washington, the Marquis de Noailles, who had made an application similar in some respects to the one now before me.

Mr. Hamilton Fish, then Secretary of State, was obliged to answer as I now do myself, that there were no funds available for granting such request, and in the course of this reply, which is dated February 15, 1873, he made the following remark:

“We have been rather occupied in this country id providing for the necessities of the destitute and suffering of European birth who have been made the subject of our pity and charitable care in great number and at great expense, but we have not thought it our right to ask other nations to assume these burdens, except in cases where paupers or persons incapable of supporting themselves have been sent here by governmental or municipal aid.”

I have taken the liberty of quoting this paragraph of Mr. Fish’s note, and have dwelt a little upon the subject to make clear why such cases as the one referred to me, which are sometimes brought before the legation, cannot be disposed of as the minister of the interior or the prefect of police would naturally like them to be.

In relation, however, to the peculiar case of Kingston, which is the subject of your excellency’s note, if I could be furnished with particulars I would take pleasure in communicating with the relatives and friends of the man, or in commending him to the American Charitable Association, if the circumstances warrant such action.

I avail, &c.,