No. 678.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Kloss .

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Colonel Frey’s note of April 15, last, on the question of the protection of Swiss citizens by the representatives of the United States in those countries where, the Confederation has no diplomatic or consular representative, and conveying the thanks and appreciation of the President of the Confederation and of the federal council for the services which have been rendered in this way by our representatives since 1871. I need not say that any services of this nature which have been heretofore or may in future be rendered by our diplomatic and consular agents are matters of pleasure as well as duty on their part, and that the good will and friendly sentiments you express on behalf of your Government are cordially reciprocated by my own.

As regards the scope of such past or future protection, a study of the instructions issued to our foreign representatives does not suggest any difference in the assistance rendered to the Swiss nation over and above any other which might stand in need of similar services, nor does it appear that such services or protection went beyond the authority given to the minister in his discretion to use his good offices for Swiss citizens when in trouble. I do not find myself in a position to altogether accept the view, if I correctly understand it, of your President that “protégés should in all respect be treated as if they were citizens of the protecting country; that a Swiss under such circumstances becomes assimilated to a citizen of the United States; that his character as a’ Swiss is for the time not to be considered; that diplomatic protection must not be conditioned or limited, and must be something more than an unofficial mediation on behalf of such claims for indemnity as may arise.” All this is to be accomplished, you also suggest, without any direct correspondence between our representatives and the Swiss federal council, the more especially as those of your citizens who are thus protected are supposed by your Government to a certain extent to “lose the outward characteristics of their nationality.”

The practice as regards this question in the past appears to be based on a circular addressed to our foreign representative by this Department on the 15th of December, 1871, explanatory of one of June, 1871, as follows:

You are informed that you are not expected to become a diplomatic or consular officer of the Swiss Republic, which is prohibited by the Constitution to officers of the United States who are citizens.

The intention is that you should merely use your good offices in behalf of any Swiss in your vicinity who might request them in the absence of a diplomatic or consular representative of Switzerland, and with the consent of the authorities where you reside.

This was repeated in a circular issued by Mr. Secretary Evarts, dated the 28th June, 1877, during the hostilities between Russia and Turkey, as follows:

You are consequently authorized to continue the exercise of your good offices in behalf of Swiss citizens under the limitations prescribed by my predecessor of June 16 and December 15, 1871.

Another circular, dated March 17, 1882, authorized our diplomatic and consular agents to draw on this Department for any expenses incurred in protecting Swiss citizens.

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Instructions to our minister in China, dated July 25, 1872, stated:

The protection referred to must necessarily he confined to the personal and unofficial good offices of such functionaries; although when exercised to this extent merely, this can properly he done only with the consent of the Chinese Government. * * * Protection of Swiss citizens in China, such as was contemplated by the circular adverted to, by no means necessarily implies official interposition in their behalf. They may have efficient protection by personal application in their favor to Chinese or other authorities in that country.

I find that on August 20, 1885, our consul-general at Panama was instructed to use the same good offices for the protection of Chinese subjects on the isthmus £s were covered by the conditions and rules for the use of good offices by our agents in behalf of Swiss citizens in the above-named circular, it being distinctly understood that the United States consular officer should not thereby become a consular officer of the Chinese Government, and that the consent of the Colombian Government should first be obtained.

On November 9, 1885, in the case of a claim of a Turkish citizen against the Government of Colombia, this Department instructed our consul-general at Panama:

It must be distinctly understood that your friendly negotiation is only an act of courtesy and an exercise of good offices, which may or may not meet with a satisfactory response on the part of the Colombian Government. The failure of any response or action on the part of that Government could not he regarded by you as a ground of offense, or be followed by more rigorous measures. Your services in the case should be limited to the simple transmission of the claim or request for information, without any examination or discussion of its justness or presentation of reasons why it should be paid.

A case more directly in point is the note to your own legation of October 8, last, in which I had the honor to inform you that our minister at Bogota would be instructed to present the claim of J. Bauer, a Swiss citizen residing at Colon, to the Colombian Government, with the understanding that in so doing the minister is to act as the agent to hand over the papers, and not as the representative of Switzerland. Essentially the same instructions were given on the same subject to the same minister on October 19, 1886.

It is evident that anything further than this, on behalf of other nations might involve this Government in great complications with the government to which the protecting minister or consul was accredited, and on which, as regarded our own affairs, we had no disputed claims, and might eventually be of as little benefit to the Swiss nation as to the United States.

I trust that your Government will see the matter in this light, and will continue to be satisfied with allowing our representatives, whenever it is in their power, to use their good offices for your citizens, as being all that the Constitution of the United States permits this Department to authorize.

Accept, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.