No. 247.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. McLane .

No. 235.]

Sir: In a dispatch recently received, under date of 6th April last, from Mr. William B. Morgan, American commercial agent at Noumea, New Caledonia, the following statement is made:

I must call your attention to the convict question of New Caledonia, which is exciting so much interest in Australia. The liberated convicts who leave this colony have it distinctly stated in their permit that they are not allowed to settle in any [Page 303] English or in any other French colony, and they are consequently making their way to Ban Francisco. A proposition is actually before the local parliament to vote £1,000 for the purpose of landing in San Francisco all the worst of these men, as they will not be received in Tahiti or elsewhere. The French Government are offering a subsidy of £120 per month for a steamer to run between Noumea and Tahiti and on to San Francisco.

The Treasury Department has been informed of Mr. Morgan’s statement, and vigilance will be exercised at San Francisco to apply the statutes prohibiting the landing of criminals in the United States.

I desire you to invite the attention of the minister for foreign affairs to this statement with a view to its denial if the reported action of the local parliament be not as represented, or to check at once, in case it be verified, any attempt on the part of the agents of France in Hew Caledonia (or possibly in Tahiti) to deport persons of the criminal classes to the United States.

If such a movement be really contemplated it could not but cause grave concern; and if executed by French governmental authority would be regarded as a distinctly unfriendly act, against which unequivocal remonstrance would be necessary. I can not, however, believe that such a step could have the sanction of the Government of the Be-public, and I confidently look for such action on its part as will evince its friendliness and dispel all ground for apprehension.

I am, etc.,