Mr. Francis to Mr. Bayard.
Vienna, April 10, 1885. (Received April 27.)
Sir: The instruction contained in your No. 30, relative to the case of Louis Feinknopf, an American citizen, who was held under arrest at Krakau for more than three months, charged with owing military service to the Government of Austria-Hungary, has received my careful attention, and I now have the honor to submit the following report:
Calling at the foreign office, March 27, I drew the attention of Count Szögyényi to this subject, remarking that what seemed to have been unwarranted delay in the decision of the case, involving great hardship to a citizen of the United States, of which he had made frequent complaints to me during the period he was held under arrest, had attracted the attention of my Government; and it was believed that should the occasion for such acknowledgment naturally arise, His Imperial and Royal Majesty’s Government would be willing to acknowledge the fact of unwarranted delay, in some quarter, of the course of justice in this matter, and evince a disposition to make some reasonable reparation for Mr. Feinknopf’s benefit.
Count Szögyényi listened attentively to and received most courteously [Page 18] what was said by me. He replied that there had been annoying delay in the ease, it was true, and so much was to be admitted; but he did not think that reparation could be thought of as a proposition to be entertained by his Government. He requested me to furnish him, if convenient, a brief memorandum of my remarks just made to him, as of verbal character, since he desired to confer on the subject with his chief, Count Kalnoky, the minister of foreign affairs. To this courteous request I cheerfully assented, and the following day (March 28) sent to Count Szögyényi the following memorandum:
Mr. Francis, in interview at foreign office, March 27, 1885, called attention of Count Szögyényi to case of American citizen, Louis Feinknopf, who was arrested in October last and held under arrest by military authorities at Krakau more than three months, and finally placed in barracks and there detained under strict military discipline several days. Mr. Francis remarked that in view of the long procrastination in this case, involving great inconvenience and hardship to Feinknopf, proof being presented in the beginning that the latter was not liable to military duty here, he (Mr. Francis) was instructed by his Government to intimate in this verbal way that, considering the traditional amity existing between the United States and Austria-Hungary, it indulged the expectation that the Imperial Royal Government would be willing to acknowledge the fact of unwarranted delay, in some quarter, of the course of justice in this matter, if the occasion for such acknowledgment should naturally arise, and evince a disposition to make some reasonable reparation for Mr. Feinknopf’s benefit.
A series of holidays intervening, I had no opportunity to meet Count Szögyényi at the foreign office again until the 7th instant, when he replied to the above memorandum as follows:
The suggestions contained in this verbal statement have had consideration, and I will say in reply that we freely acknowledge that there was unwarranted delay in the course of justice in this matter, but, as your excellency will bear witness, not through any fault of this Department, which earnestly urged a prompt decision of the case and was exceedingly annoyed on account of the delay. So much we are willing to say, but as to the proposition of according reparation for Feinknopf’s benefit, which means pecuniary compensation to him, we cannot entertain it. These men, natives of this country, return here after becoming naturalized in the United States. There has been no previous notification of such naturalization, and they know perfectly well that they are liable to be arrested as Austrian subjects owing military duty to this Government. They present their naturalization papers to the authorities after arrest; but these have to be referred to a higher authority, and considerable time will naturally elapse before investigation can take place and a decision is rendered. Inquiry, too, has to be made as to whether the person arrested, though he has become a naturalized citizen of the United States, did not owe military service to Austria-Hungary, while an Austrian subject, and before leaving his native country, and this involves delay. The arrested party, under these circumstances, cannot set up a claim for reparation because he is kept waiting under arrest. No, we cannot entertain a proposition to grant reparation in the case under consideration.
It is true that during the pending of this case, covering a period of about three months, in all my interviews with Count Szögyényi, he expressed an earnest desire to meet my views by assuring the prompt release of Feinknopf, saying on more than one occasion that the procrastination elsewhere was exceedingly annoying to the ministry of foreign affairs, and they were doing everything possible to facilitate the object I desired in the premises. The delay arose from the apparent indisposition of the military authorities to take the reasonably prompt action which, in the interest of justice, the case required. But the “unwarranted delay” occurred, a fact now frankly acknowledged. The reasons advanced by Count Szögyényi why the proposition for reparation in this case for the benefit of Feinknopf cannot be entertained by his Imperial and Royal Majesty’s Government I need not here discuss, since the question can only “naturally arise” in case such claim is presented under instruction from the Department.
I have, &c.,