Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. McLane.
Washington, June 24, 1887.
Sir: On the 10th instant, at the instance of certain friends of Baron Seillière, I sent you the following instruction by cable:” To use your personal good offices to ascertain the cause of Baron Seillière’s detention and to obtain his release if possible.”
I now transmit for your information copies of three letters addressed to me by Mr. John Mullaly, of New York, respecting the alleged unlawful detention of Baron Seillière and of my reply thereto.
It is represented to me that you are fully conversant with the facts of the case, and that you only await the instructions of the Department [Page 305] to make formal official demand upon the French Government for Baron Seillière’s release. It is, of course, impossible to act upon suck representations in the absence of report or suggestion from you. I necessarily confide in the judgment which you on the spot are in a position to form of the merits of the complaint, and I have yet to receive from you any intimation that a case is presented for the intervention of this Government directly with that of France. Hence my letter of this date to Mr. Mullaly, to which I refer you for a fuller expression of my views.
I may add that, from personal correspondence exhibited to me, and in particular a letter written by Commander d’Ullmann to Father Justin, the Director of Manhattan College, Manhattanville, N. Y., it appears that Baron Seillière, having passed some months in the United States, where he declared his intention to become a citizen, upon his return to France, and at the instance of his sister, the Princess de Sagan, was, upon medical certificates, confined in the private “insane retreat” of Dr. Fabret, at Vanves, near Paris.
It is probable that an early mail will bring from you a report in the case, which will enable its more intelligent consideration than at present.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Mullaly to Mr. Bayard.
Dear Sir: Allow me to thank you for your early consideration of, and prompt reply to, my two letters of the 2d and 5th instant.
A dispatch sent to you to-day, signed by Rev. Brother Justin and myself, informed you that we had received a cablegram from Paris that “Baron Seillière’s life is in danger unless Minister McLane receive formal order from Secretary Bayard to act for him as an American citizen entitled to full rights.”
Reference was made in the dispatch to the action of Minister Washburne in saving many French lives during the Commune. “In humanity’s name,” said the writer in conclusion, “help us.”
I would respectfully submit that as this is a case involving not only the liberty ut the life of a gentleman, who, in absolutely good faith, has taken the necessary steps to become a citizen of the United States, it appeals with particular force to the highest instincts of humanity, and to the special consideration of a Government like ours.
The baron has been a resident of this country about twelve months, and left New York the 7th of May for France, on a business visit, having purchased a return ticket for the 16th of July, intending to make this country his permanent home.
In your communication of the 7th instant, you say that “should justice be arbitrarily denied to him, etc.”I would respectfully suggest that as the case has now assumed a most serious character, involving not only the liberty but the life of Baron Seillière, and as it manifestly requires prompt action to be effective, that you cable to Mr. McLane the necessary authority for his intervention.
I feel that in making this request I am not, as a citizen of the United States, asking too much of our Government, especially as I feel assured that its kindly offices in this matter will be treated with due consideration and respect by the French Government. It may be that while of itself it cannot take the initiative in the case of an American citizen, it will so far respect the wishes of a friendly power and an ancient ally as to second the efforts of our minister to secure Baron Seillière’s release.
Very respectfully, yours,
P. S.—I take a most earnest interest in this case, having formed during my acquaintance with the baron a high respect for his character and admiration of his abilities. Let me add that, as this is a matter in which humanity as well as statecraft is concerned, I would earnestly entreat you, Mr. Secretary, to take counsel of Thomas F. Bayard.
Brother Justin to Mr. Bayard.
Dear Sir: Please to accept my most cordial thanks for your great kindness to my friend, Baron Seillière. I need hardly say I am under no obligations whatever either to the baron or Commander d’Ullmann, the author of the letter I take the liberty of sending you.
I have known these gentlemen for a year, and I have found them to be worthy of any kindness I could show them.
The cablegram I inclose from Mr. Kelly, the counsel of our legation, is significant. It means that Mr. McLane desires instruction to act, and It means, further, that both Mr. Grèvy, the President, and Mr. Wilson, his son-in-law, both of whom are friendly to the baron, only wish for an excuse to release the baron.
Dear Mr. Secretary, permit me, in the interests of justice and our common humanity, to beg of you to cable immediately to our minister, Mr. McLane, to ask for the release of the baron.
The cablegram from Mr. Monroe Livermore is not signed, but he is one of our leading citizens, and went to Paris on the same steamer with the baron and Commander d’Ullmann. He and his wife are the American friends referred to in Commander d’Ullmann’s letter.
Begging to be excused for giving you so much trouble, I am, my dear sir, very truly,
I was just down to see Mr. Develin, and requested him to telegraph you.
I was urged to engage Senator Evarts, but I said I have faith enough in the distinguished gentleman who presides over the State Department.
To Father Justin, Manhattan College, New York:
French laws allow no public investigation in case of confinement on ground of lunacy; best chance securing release through action our minister, who is anxious to be of service, but requires instructions. Get Bayard cable him authorizing him to ask French Government deliver Seillière to ours; procurator says French Government would probably make no objections.
Counsel of United Stales Legation.
To Brother Justin, Manhattan College, New York:
Spino’s [the baron’s] life in danger unless McLane receive formal order from Bayard to act for him as American citizen entitled to full rights. Washburne saved in this matter during Commune many French lives. In humanity’s name help us; wire commander.
This cablegram is from Mr. Monroe Livermore, one of our wealthiest New Yorkers
Commander d’Ullmann to Brother Justin.
Reverend Brother: The outrageous crime which I foresaw, when I left in your hands the naturalization papers of Baron Raymond Seillière, has taken place under the following circumstances:
We arrived here on Sunday night; the baron during his trip conceived the plan of a reconciliation with his family, and with that idea decided to ask the aid of his aunt, the Duchesse Gabrièle de Berghes.
Consequently, on Monday, November 9, he called upon his aunt, and told me after leaving her that she had not only promised him that, but even more, entire satisfaction and the punishment of those who had wronged him.[Page 307]
I remarked to him that her cordiality seemed unnatural, but he replied to me, don’t disturb yourself, for in spite of myself I am deeply attached to my sister, the Princesse de Sagan, who is separated from her husband, a most honorable man, for the most scandalous reasons, and on her account I shall not allow myself to get excited against her. The same day he had a long interview with Wilson and Grévy, the President of the French Republic.
On Tuesday morning he received a letter from his aunt, asking him to call at 11 a.m. He went and returned so satisfied with the result of the interview that he sent her some beautiful flowers.
The same day he saw Wilson again and several persons upon the subject of tramways [or street cars. B. Justin.] The balance of his time was occupied in showing his American friends, Monroe Livermore and family, Paris.
On Wednesday he had interviews with his conseil jndiciaire, his lawyer, and several friends. Each day he lunched with his brother-in-law, the Prince de Sagan.
Thursday was fête day. He went to church, and at 5 p.m. again went to the Duchesse do Berghes by appointment. From that moment he has not been seen.
As I know that he had an appointment with President Grévy on Friday to appoint a day when his American friends, Livermore and wife, shall breakfast with him at the Élysée, I did not call upon him. At 3 p.m. his servant, who is paid by his sister, came to inform me that the baron went out from the Duchesse de Berghes in such excited condition that he forgot his carriage which was waiting at the door.
In addition he said that the princesse wished him to inform me that she had induced her brother to join the Baron Frank, who was in Wildbad in Germany, at the same time requesting him to bring her the baron’s traveling bag which contained his papers.
The strange fact that the baron had left without telling his friends, but also, that this man had delivered to the princesse his bag, contrary as I know to the desire of his master to deliver it to any save myself, was proof to me that the crime was committed.
I immediately Went to his conseil judiciaire, Mr. Vernier, 4 Rue Florentin, and told him to send word to Grévy that the Princesse de Sagan had made away with her brother, and to notify the preset de police without delay.
I was authorized by the baron to take this step (although as to this time it was only a suspicion) should he in any case miss an appointment by more than an hour, knowing himself the intentions of his sister.
Grévy at once sent for the préfet de police. The latter asked forty-eight hours to trace him. Knowing that the baron is no more insane than myself, and any honest man must certify who knows him, my only fear was that the extreme measure they had taken, and the violence to which he had been subjected, would render him crazy or unnaturally excited.
I took an old detective of the Empire in my confidence, and on Saturday night I was on the right track.
The following is what passed between Thursday 5 p.m. and Saturday, as it was subsequently confirmed by the préfet de police:
The rendezvous which the Duchesse de Berghes had appointed on Tuesday at 11 a.m. was a plot, and I have her letter to confirm it.
She excited the baron by any means in her power, having previously concealed the Princesse de Sagan and Dr. Mottet, with a medical reporter, Mr. Lequair, behind a curtain.
The latter was unfriendly to the baron.
The two physicians made their first report crouched behind the curtain, but as the law requires that the physicians must be at the same room, the fatal rendezvous was on Thursday.
On that very day the director of the insane asylum at Vanves, Dr. Fabret, had already been requested to send three strong men to bind a madman of great strength, then at the house of the Duchesse de Berghes.
The baron entering found himself face to face with his sister, his aunt, the Colonel Gibert [his relation and sworn enemy of Seillière], also the two doctors.
On discovering the plot he became angry. He was bound and taken to the insane asylum of Dr. Fabret, who received him in good faith. Unfortunately the French law exacts that his family shall have absolute power in this case. Consequently Dr. Fabret was forced to refuse admittance to his conseil judiciare and lawyer, they having an authorization from the preset de police to see the baron, who was shut up in a separate building and guarded by three of the princess’s servants.
Dr. Fabret stated that the baron gave no signs of insanity, but that he was excited, what was only natural, considering the violence which had been done to him.
Finding that the préfêt was powerless, I returned to my own man, and I have proof that the baron had received the message that his friends were working for him.
His reply was to Dr. Fabret: “I know very well that I have fallen into a trap. I will remain calm, whatever may happen. I shall take measures when honest physicians have decided my case.” He then explained with perfect lucidity all the enormities of the French law of insane to Dr. Fabret, who said that it seems to him impossible to keep him.[Page 308]
The conseil judieiaro received also a letter of the princess, in which she positively asserts that the baron is with his brother Frank in Gormany, and that there is no reason to be anxious about him. He telegraphed to Frank, asking if it was true.
Frank replied: My brother is not here. Something serious must have happened. I come to Paris in 24 hours.” He came, saw the conseil judiciare and said with tears in his eyes, “I can do nothing. My sister asks mo to take her side, but I must remain neutral, and I think my sister is in a fix. Should any misfortune happen to my poor brother I will never return to France.”
As it appears that nobody who has the right to oppose the princess will do something, the best friend of Seillière, Mr. Wilson, son-in-Law of President Grévy, assured me that if the doctors who make the second examination shall be influenced by the princess or by medical etiquette and state that the baron is incurably mad and dangerous there remains but one chance to save him from this terrible state—his American citizenship. Mr. Wilson has promised in this event to do all in his power towards this demand through Mr. McLane, the American minister, and with the least possible delay.
My dear brother, you assured me that the baron and myself could always count on you. Here is the chance to do us an infinite service.
Immediately without a moment’s delay after the reception of a dispatch signed by mo, saying, Act immediately,” do all that is necessary, to be sure that the American Minister McLane receives by cable a formal demand to release citizen No.___, who is confined to the insane retreat of Dr. Fabret, at Vanves, near Paris.
Send me at same time a dispatch by which I shall be authorized to explain the facts to the minister.
They can interfere but one obstacle, which is false—that he is dangerous to society. I will have an American in Paris who will in such case take charge of him and not allow him to come out until Dr. Fabret shall agree to it. I will myself arrange an interview between the American minister and Wilson as soon as I get your cable to haste the solution.
Above all things let no time be lost between the dispatch which I shall send you, if necessary, and the authorization to proceed, which must be without delay. Excuse this long letter; but such incredible things require fall explanation.
Believe me always faithfully yours,
Mr. Mullaly to Mr. Bayard.
New York, June 19, 1887.
Dear Sir: We have received information of a confidential character from our friends in Paris, who convey to us the positive assurance that the French minister of foreign affairs will, upon the official demand of our minister. Mr. McLane, release Baron Seillière.
Thus far our representative has, we are told, used only his “good offices,” which are insufficient to meet the urgency of the case.
In the meantime, Mr. Secretary, a gentleman, who, in good faith, has declared his intention to become an American citizen, is subject to an incarceration of the most cruel and inhuman character, the result of a foul and unnatural conspiracy by which he is not only deprived of his liberty, but put in immediate peril of his life.
Surely, Mr. Secretary, this is a case which appeals with special force to our Government and fully justifies its official intervention.
As M. Flourens has given assurance that an official demand from our minister for the baron’s liberation will not only meet with respectful consideration, but that it will be promptly acceded to, we ask you in the name of justice, in the name of humanity, and for the honor of our country to use your official power in procuring the release of this gentleman from a condition worse than death itself, and which, to a sensitive mind, must be more unendurable than the most excruciating torture.
This appeal, Mr. Secretary, is made to your best feelings as a man as well as to your high sense of the vital principle involved, and in the confidence that with the assurance given, your official authority will be exerted promptly and to the fullest extent allowable by |he law applicable to the case.
Permit me to say further that on his release the Baron Seillière will be taken care of by his American friends in Paris, who are most earnestly working in his behalf.
Very respectfully, etc.,
Mr. Mullaly to Mr. Bayard.
New York, June 21, 1887.
Dear Sir: The inclosed cablegram, which I have just received from Commander d’Ullmann, in Paris, speaks for itself. The commander is the friend and companion of Baron Seillière and was with him in this country.
Let me again appeal to you, Mr. Secretary, to save this man. It is in your power to do so, and, I believe, that as you have the power you will not allow him to be lost.
The case, however, is urgent, and the danger of delay so serious to contemplate that I feel I must make another appeal to your generous sympathies and your sense of justice in this extremity.
Very respectfully, etc.,
P. S.—The word “requested” in the dispatch should evidently read “demanded.”
To Mullaly, 223 East Forty-ninth Street, New York:
Many thanks for aid and sympathy; please tell brother that his enemies will render him lunatic if he is not requested and released soon.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Mullaly.
Washington, June 23, 1887.
Sir: I have received your letters of the 19th and 21st instant. The action you desire me to take in the case of Baron Seillière is official, and I am the representative of the laws of the United States, and by them and not by my personal sympathies must my action be requested.
The case of Baron Seillière is not, even as informally stated in your letters, one arising between two Governments; but, as placed by you before this Department, is an application of the municipal laws of France to an individual who has voluntarily placed himself within their jurisdiction.
In view of his inchoate American citizenship, the United States minister at Paris was promptly instructed by cable to use his personal good offices to ascertain the true condition of Baron Seillière and the cause of his confinement, and to extend to him any relief in his power, and, if possible, to procure his release.
Knowing, as I do, the energy and ability of Mr. McLane, and that his interest has been thoroughly aroused, I feel confident that he will forsake no duty in carrying out his instructions, and that so soon as he discovers that Baron Seillière is not legally treated, according to the laws of France, he will make such report to the Department; as will enable me to take such action in the name and in behalf of the Government of the United States as may be justly called for.
While I comprehend your anxiety to affect the relief of your friend, and fully sympathize in your distress, yet the measure of my duty must be determined by the law, whose instrument alone I am.
I am, sir, etc.,
Mr. Mullaly to Colonel Lamont.
Dear Sir: As the inclosed letter to the President has reference to a matter of special importance, involving the right of protection of Baron de Seillière, who declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, I would request as a favor its delivery by you to the President. Baron de Seillière is now in France.
Very truly, etc.,
Mr. Mullaly to the President.
Dear Sir: There is now immured in an insane asylum, near Paris, a friend of mine named Raymond de Seillière, better known as Baron Seillière, a Frenchman, who, while in San Francisco, last August, declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. He had been in this country about a year and had in good faith resolved to transfer his allegiance from the country of his birth to the land of his adoption. He is of an ancient and distinguished French family and his father was the head of the first banking house of the French capital, of which the baron is by right of inheritance the principal.
Last May he left this city for Paris on business connected with important enterprises in which he was interested, and purchased a return ticket for the 16th of next month. He was accompanied by Commander d’Ulmann, a friend with whom he came to this country, and who had been his companion and fellow-traveler during his residence in the United States.
This gentleman sent a cablegram some days after their’ arrival in Paris to Rev. Brother Justin, the superior of the Christian brothers in this country, and who is an earnest friend of both gentlemen, informing him that the baron had been seized during an interview with his sister, the Princess de Sagan, and at her instigation. It was part of an atrocious conspiracy against her brother and his interests in the family estates. He was bound by three strong men in his sister’s presence, carried off and incarcerated in an insane asylum at Vanves, under the charge of Dr. Fabret. In a letter dated Paris, May 27, Commander d’Ullmann described in detail this infamous plot and the manner in which it was carried into execution. The particulars disclose a fiendish crime against not only the liberty, but from what appears in a subsequent cablegram against the life of Baron Seillière.
This letter of the commander is now on file in the State Department, and I respectfully ask for it your careful consideration.
Immediately on receipt of the first cablegram, Rev. Brother Justin and myself sent a joint dispatch to Mr. Bayard, informing him of the facts. This was followed by several letters, giving further and more minute information in compliance with the request of the Secretary of State. To be brief, Mr. Bayard finally informed both the reverend brother and myself, in a communication dated June 11, that “Mr. McLane was yesterday notified by cable to use his good offices in the matter.” I regret to say that these have been found ineffectual and insufficient to meet the emergencies of the ease, which I need hardly tell you, Mr. President, are of the most pressing; and urgent character.
On the 22d instant the reverend brother received the inclosed important cablegram, which, it appears to me, meets the objections raised as to the right of official intervention. Here the vital questions of “protection” and “domicile” are presented, and reference made to the case of Martin Koszta, which, we contend, does not present the same strong ground as that of Baron Seillière’s case for the action of our Government.
As this is a matter in which, I respectfully submit, the honor and self-respect of our Government and its high position among civilized nations is involved, I would earnestly invite your attention to the position taken and successfully maintained by the illustrious statesman who held the office of Secretary of State under President Pierce. In his communication to the Austrian minister, Mr. Hulsemann, Mr. Marcy says [Ex. Doc, first session, Thirty-third Congress]:
“It is not said that this initiatory step [declaration of intention] in the process of naturalization invested him [Koszta] with all the civil rights of an American citizen, but it is sufficient for all the purposes of this case to show that he was clothed with an American nationality, and, in virtue thereof, the Government of the United States [Page 311] was authorized to extend to him its protection at home and abroad, Mr. Hulsemann, as the undersigned believes, falls into a great error by assuming that a nation can extend its protection only to native or naturalized citizens. This is not the doctrine of international law, nor is the practice of nations circumscribed within such narrow limits. This law does not, as has been before remarked, complicate questions of this nature by respect for municipal codes. In relation to this subject it has clear and distinct codes of its own. It gives the national character of the country not only to native-born and naturalized citizens, but to all residents in it who are there with, or even without, intention to become citizens, provided they have a domicile therein. * * * Whenever, by the operation of the law of nations, an individual becomes clothed with our national character, be he a native-born or naturalized citizen, an exile driven from his early home by political oppression, or an emigrant enticed from it by hopes of a better fortune for himself and his posterity, he can claim the protection of this Government, and it may respond to that claim without being obliged to explain its conduct to any foreign power, for it is its duty to make its nationality respected by other nations and respectable in every quarter of the globe”
It appears from the inclosed dispatch that according to the French civil code Baron Seillière is; no longer a French citizen, and that Mr. Kelly, the counsel to the American legation, takes the same ground held by Mr. Marcy in the Koszta case, and which I respectfully submit, Mr. President, constitutes a precedent on which our Government not only can act, but in which it is bound to act in accordance with the principle laid down by one of our most eminent Democratic statesmen.
Trusting that the information herein presented may determine you to demand through our minister to France the immediate release of Baron Seillière.
I remain, etc.,