Baron von Thielmann to Mr. Olney.
Washington, February 24, 1896.
Mr. Secretary of State: Referring to my note of the 8th instant, relative to Jacob Franck, a seaman who is now at Savannah, I have the honor to inform your excellency that correspondence took place in [Page 200]December, 1895, on this subject between the Imperial consul at Savannah and the Imperial consulate-general at New York, in which the possibility of sending the seaman in question home was fully discussed. The inquiries made by the German consular authorities elicited the fact that Franck, who was formerly a fireman on board of the German steamer Maria Elizabeth, is really insane, and that there is good ground for the belief that he left his place and his vessel while not responsible for his acts.
The Imperial consul at Savannah informed the authorities of that city that in view of the state of the case no obligation on the part of the German consulate to care for Franck could be recognized, and Franck was thereupon discharged from prison. He was, however, very soon rearrested for disorderly conduct and burglary and recommitted to prison, where he has since become a raving maniac.
The owner of the vessel (whose address is now unknown, since, according to information received from the consul ate-general at New York, no steamer Maria Elizabeth appears in the latest list of German seagoing vessels) can not, however, be compelled to pay for the transportation of a maniac to his native land, and the Imperial consular authorities have no means at their disposal for such a purpose. The fact that he had deserted would, moreover, of itself exonerate the owner from any legal obligation to care for a sick seaman.
It has, furthermore, by no means been shown that Franck is still a subject of the German Empire, nor is it known whether he has relatives in Germany or elsewhere who would be able and willing to furnish the means to convey him home and to support him after his arrival there.
The general principle that the State authorities of a country or other public authorities are bound at first to care for an alien who is in need of assistance is so generally recognized that some provision for such a purpose has probably been made by the laws of the State of Georgia. This principle has also been maintained in similar cases by the United States Government, as is shown by the accompanying documents (sic). I have the honor in this connection to refer to the case of Valdimir (Vladimir?) von Suminski, an American citizen of unsound mind, to which the note of Hon. Edwin F. Uhl, Acting Secretary of State, of October 11, 1894, to Mr. von Holleben, my predecessor, had reference. In this case the Department of State (as appears from the Hon. W. Q. Gresham’s note of July 15, 1893) instructed the United States consul at Hamburg to communicate with Suminski’s relatives. The consul did so, and addressed, under date of January 12, 1894, the communication of which a copy is herewith inclosed to Burgomaster Versmann, in the concluding portion of which it is distinctly stated that sick aliens are cared for in the United States.
I avail, etc.,