Mr. Olney to Baron von Thielmann.
Washington, April 27, 1896.
Excellency: Reverting to correspondence heretofore exchanged with your embassy on the subject of one Jacob Franck, a seaman on board the German steamer Maria Elizabeth, who, having been discharged from that vessel, or having deserted in December, 1895, has become a charge upon the community of Savannah, Ga., by reason of insanity, and in particular to my note of February 28, 1896, and your reply of the 9th March, I have the honor to inform you that I am in receipt of communications from the Secretary of the Treasury with regard to the jurisdiction of his Department in the case.
It is the conclusion of the Secretary of the Treasury that, under the circumstances stated, Franck is not an alien immigrant and can not be returned to Germany under the immigration laws of the United States, it being impossible to eliminate from the case his character as a deserting seaman.
The Secretary of the Treasury calls attention to the circumstance that the convention between the United States and the German Empire of December 11, 1871, by its fourteenth article, provides for invoking [Page 203]the assistance of the Federal courts in apprehending Franck as a deserter from a German vessel, and the United States circuit court commissioner at Savannah has so advised the German consul, and notified him that the United States marshal will deliver the deserter to him upon application.
I have no doubt of the application of Article XIV to the case, the fact of desertion of a German seaman from a German vessel in a port of the United States being established; for, although that article is in form permissive as to the surrender of such a deserting seamen, it is evidently framed on the assumption that each contracting party will so recover its deserters and not permit them to become a charge upon the foreign community. It appears to me quite immaterial what the German laws or lack of laws upon the subject of the return of such deserting seaman may be, although I have before intimated to you the laws of the United States are careful to provide for the relief of American deserters from American vessels in German ports by the consuls of the United States and their return to this country at the expense of this Government, and the circumstance that the deserter may be also a lunatic does not stand in the way of applying this provision, but rather would make its execution on the part of this Government, the case being reversed, an international obligation of comity as well as a duty of humanity to the sufferer.
For your further information I should state that, according to the latest reports on the subject, Jacob Franck, or Franz, arrived in the port of Savannah in November last from Lingen, province of Hanover, Prussia, having been brought thither as a fireman on board of the German steamer Maria Elizabeth, H. Reins, master, her home port being Vegesack and her owner J. D. Bischoff. Shortly before the sailing of the ship in December last Jacob Franck, or Franz, deserted in company with several others. It is said that the captain did everything in his power to capture the deserters; as a matter of fact, however, the ship left the port of Savannah without them. Shortly after this Franck was arrested on account of creating a public disturbance in a church, and it was then found that he was violently insane. The State asylum at Milledgeville being overcrowded, nothing could be done for him by the authorities but to commit him to the county jail. At the time of his discharge therefrom a small fund was raised by public charity, which made it possible to temporarily place Franck in a private asylum kept by one Dr. Allen at Milledgeville, where he now is, and where he can be kept until the early part of May with the means in hand.
Earnestly inviting your attention to this phase of the case, I offer you, etc.,