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.
[Inclosure in No. 289.]
Mr. Morton to Mr.
Legation of the United States,
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
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.
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
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.,