No. 14.
Baron Schaeffer to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: In laying before you a report just received by our consul in Philadelphia, with respect to a case of discipline which occurred on board the Austrian vessel Ararat, Capt. Sylvio Ferlan, and in which the local authorities seem to arrogate the right of interference, contrary to the consular convention of 1870 existing between the Governments of the United States and Austria-Hungary, I have the honor to earnestly request you to instruct without delay, even by telegraph, the said authorities accordingly.

If the local authorities think themselves authorized to violate the law of nations, every convention becomes a dead letter, and our consular jurisdiction would cease entirely by encouraging the insubordination on board our ships.

Accept, &c.,


Report of Austro-Hungarian consul at Philadelphia.

Sir: This consulate is compelled to lay before the imperial and royal legation a case of importance in which the consular jurisdiction has been interfered with, and not only that, but it is threatened with being overruled, a local magistrate here having completely ignored the treaty and all its provisions now existing between Austria-Hungary and the United States of America.

The Austro-Hungarian bark Ararat, Capt. Sylvio Ferlan, arrived at this port on the 8th instant from Belfast, having mustered into service at Belfast, before the imperial and royal consulate at that port, as cabin boy (camerotho), the boy Hamilton Stewart, for the voyage to the United States, and from there to port of discharge of the vessel in Europe, at £1 sterling per month. On Monday morning, May 14, said boy, Hamilton Stewart, presented himself at this consulate, making a complaint against Captain Ferlan, stating that the captain had beaten him, and when asked by me when, and where, and. how, he answered, on that same morning in the cabin when they were alone, and that he, the boy, now demanded to be paid off. He admitted that the captain had not maltreated him or abused him, only boxed his ears, and the boy certainly did not show upon his body any mark of hurt or violence. After having heard the boy’s side of the story, I told him to wait at the consulate, as I would at once send for Captain Ferlan (which I did), to get his version of the matter, but the boy, who was accompanied by a “runner” from some seamen’s boarding house, did not wait for the captain, but left the consulate. When Captain Ferlan came to the consulate he admitted having that morning, in the cabin, slapped the boy in the face and boxed his ears, because the boy had been very insubordinate and refused to do duty.

Captain Ferlan said that the boy is a bad boy, and he would agree to pay him off here, in spite of his positive right to retain him on board, provided the boy gave a receipt in full for all demands.

On the next day, Tuesday forenoon, the boy came to the consulate again, when I told him that the captain had a right to chastise him moderately for gross insubordination and refusal to do his duty; but, nevertheless, Captain Ferlan would agree to pay him off here if he would give a receipt in full for all demands. This he said that he would do. His account was then made up, and shown to him, leaving a balance of $2.78 in the boy’s favor, which he received, and for which he gave the following receipt, viz:

“Received payment in full for all demands upon the above vessel, her owners and her master.

Philadelphia, May 15, 1883.



[Page 15]

On Wednesday afternoon, shortly before 4 p.m., Captain Ferlan was arrested and came to this consulate in charge of a constable from Magistrate James L. Brown, court No. 3, a local magistrate, which local magistrate had, upon application of the boy, issued a warrant for the arrest of Captain Ferlan upon the charge of “assault and battery,” &c.

I immediately went with Captain Ferlan and the magistrate’s constable to the magistrate’s court No. 3, but found him gone for the day, and in spite of my most earnest demonstrations before the constable, claiming, as I did, that the consulate alone had jurisdiction in the case, the constable took him to the Union Street station-house, Lieutenant of Police Watson, jailer, where the captain was locked up for two or three hours, until his consignees here, Messrs. Workman & Co., gave bail for his appearance before the magistrate at 10 a.m. on the following day. On Thursday, at 10 a.m., Captain Ferlan and I appeared before Magistrate Brown; before him I claimed the unconditional surrender to me of Captain Ferlan, by virtue of the jurisdiction vested in this consulate, based on the existing treaty already cited above.

The magistrate refused to liberate the captain, and appointed a hearing in the case at 2 p.m. on Thursday. As the boy was in the hands of a lawyer, it became necessary for the captain and the consulate also to have a legal adviser, and Mr. Charles Gibbons, jr., quite an able young admiralty lawyer, and also a United States commissioner here, was retained for that purpose.

We all met at the appointed hour yesterday (Thursday) at 2 p.m., when the magistrate had read to him by Mr. Gibbons portions of the existing treaty, and the claim of the consulate for an absolute jurisdiction was again pressed upon the magistrate with great force.

Magistrate Brown claimed jurisdiction because the vessel was not in the Delaware River at an anchor at the time of the occurrence in the cabin, but she was moored at one of our city wharves. He says that if she had been in the river, riding at anchor, he could not interfere, but at the wharf he had a right to, in his opinion.

He has turned the matter over to the court. It is to come up in the criminal court (court of quarter sessions), Judge Finletter, I believe, or some other State court judge, at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 21, and I do therefore hasten to lay this important matter before the imperial and royal legation for immediate action, because if the local authorities are allowed to interfere with and to disregard entirely the United States treaties with the several foreign maritime powers and to ignore the consular jurisdiction based on such treaties, there will be no end to the cases of insubordination, desertion, &c., on board of foreign vessels in the United States ports in future.

Yours, &c.,

Imperial and Royal Consul.