Mr. Winchester to Mr. Bayard.
Berne, December 22, 1888. (Received January 7, 1889.)
Sir: Soon after my assumption of the duties of this post I submitted to the Department the pressing needs for urging upon the Swiss Government the negotiation of a naturalization treaty, and in doing so it was stated that, among other evils resulting from the absence of such a treaty, and the Swiss contention as to Swiss citizenship in spite of the fact of a Swiss being invested under our naturalization laws with all the rights and privileges of an American citizen, one of the most serious and common was the detention of property claimed by Switzers naturalized and residing in the United States—this detention and refusal to surrender property to the legal and equitable owner being done under the cover of most flimsy and frivolous pretexts by the local authorities and tribunals.
Through the intelligent and energetic efforts of our consul at Zurich (Mr. Catlin) a case involving considerable property was appealed from the cantonal to the federal tribunal, the Swiss supreme court, and an opinion obtained which probably is the most decisive judicial pronouncement on one very characteristic feature of such cases, and gives some assurance that the local contentions heretofore held and expressed, if properly submitted to this tribunal, must be reversed as this has been. A copy of the opinion is inclosed.
I am, etc.,