No. 677.
Mr. Frey to Mr. Bayard .


Mr. Secretary of State: The undersigned, minister of the Swiss Confederation, has repeatedly had the honor to have verbal conferences with you relative to the question of the protection of Swiss citizens by [Page 1075] the representatives of the United States in those countries in which the Confederation has no diplomatic or consular representative, and the ‘undersigned has not failed to inform his Government, on each of these occasions, of the kindness with which you have expressed yourself.

The President of the Confederation has instructed the undersigned to convey to you his warmest thanks for the readiness with which you have been pleased to comply with our wishes in this matter, and to avail himself, at the same time, of this occasion to express to you the thanks of the federal council for the valuable services which have been rendered since 1871 by your representatives to Swiss citizens, The undersigned assures you that the federal council fully appreciates the good will and the friendly sentiments which have been manifested by the United States Government in this matter.

With regard to the scope of the protection hereafter to be extended to our citizens by your representatives, I have, however, the honor, in obedience to the instructions of the President of the Confederation; to remark that the views expressed by you on this subject do not appear to accord in all respects with those of the federal council, nor, as we think, with the position taken in relation to this matter by the United States, Government in the year 1871.

In the opinion of the President of the Confederation, protégés should be treated in all respects as if they were citizens of the protecting country. A Swiss, by placing himself under the protection of the United States, becomes assimilated, in the opinion of the President of the Confederation, while he is under that protection, to a citizen of the United States: his character as a Swiss is far the time being not to be considered, and, so far as the foreign state is concerned, he is covered by the United States flag. Diplomatic protection, if it is to have any real meaning, must not be conditional or limited; it must be more than an unofficial mediation in behalf of such claims for indemnity as may arise; otherwise it would be of no avail when most needed—that is to say, at the time when the violated rights of the protégé are to be asserted.

This view of the scope of the protection to be afforded by no means involves any direct intercourse of the federal council with the diplomatic of consular officers of the protecting state, and there consequently seems to be no ground for the assumption that those officers by protecting Swiss citizens assume the rôle of officers of the Swiss Confederation. It might rather be assumed that a contrary state of things took place, since a Swiss, who places himself under foreign protection, loses, to a certain extent, the outward characteristics of his nationality.

The President of the Confederation does not, of course, absolutely decline to accept the view that we can not, by any means, claim the protection of our citizens by the representatives of the United States as a right. He must, however, regard it as his duty to inform himself concerning the nature and scope of the protection of Swiss citizens which has been guarantied to us.

The undersigned entertains the pleasing hope that, duly appreciating the situation, you will have the kindness to give him the further information which is desired, and, while he has the honor to reiterate the expression of his gratitude for the valuable services hitherto rendered by your Government in behalf of Swiss citizens, he avails himself, etc.

E. Frey.