Mr. Runyon to Mr. Gresham .

No. 256.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that Mr. Fr. W. Benque, an American citizen (now of No. 31 Nordstrasse, Bremen), has made application to me to take steps to obtain for him indemnity for his financial losses through his expulsion from Hamburg by the police of that city in 1889, about six years ago. His complaint was, it seems, laid by him before the State Department on or about May 1, 1889, but I can not find that any action in the matter was ordered by the Department.

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The history of the affair since then is shown by the following extract from a letter (of the 11th instant) written by Mr. Benque to me:

The United States Administration took this case and finally, after numerous negotiations, the Hamburg senate offered its courts to be open to me in order to settle this matter by a trial. According to this agreement I returned to Germany about half a year ago and endeavored to bring suit in the Hamburg courts, but without avail up to this date. I submitted my claim to different prominent Hamburg lawyers. They decline, however, to conduct a trial because of their opinion [that] any prosecution in this way would positively result in failure. I herewith inclose a copy [of a] letter to me of those lawyers showing the views of them. Further, in reference to my precarious financial condition, originally caused by the expulsion and the fact that a regular trial would be a very expensive matter, beyond my ability, I attempted to get a free trial, but was informed by the courts that this could not be admitted [allowed] to me as an alien.

This decision that he was not entitled to sue in forma pauperis appears to have been put upon two grounds—one that there was not in the United States a law permitting persons to sue in forma pauperis, and the other that Mr. Benque was not able to produce the certificate of pecuniary inability to pay costs required by the German law to warrant an order to sue in forma pauperis Although this judgment appears to have been on Mr. Benque’s application reconsidered by the court, it was affirmed. He could have appealed from it to a higher court, but it seems he did not do so.

Under the facts as above stated I have not thought it proper to take any diplomatic action without directions from the State Department.

I have, etc.,

Theodore Runyon