Baron von Thielmann to Mr. Olney.


Mr. Secretary of State: I have had the honor to receive your excellency’s note of the 27th ultimo, No. 144, relative to Jacob Franck, a seaman who has deserted his ship.

Article XIV of the treaty of December 11, 1871, between the German Empire and the United States, is in my opinion not applicable to the [Page 204] present case, inasmuch as that article simply gives the right to consuls to apply for the surrender of a seaman who has deserted from his vessel, but in nowise makes it obligatory upon them to take charge of such deserter when the state or local authorities find his presence annoying.

As my interpretation of Article XIV differs from that of your excellency, I will bring the case to the notice of the Imperial Government, and will apprise your excellency in due time of the view taken by it.

In reply to your excellency’s statement that the laws of the United States make special provision for the relief of deserters from American vessels in foreign countries, I can only say that German law is different, since it recognizes no claim of a deserter to special care.

I may, however, at the same time call your excellency’s attention to the fact that German law, in section 60 of the Statute of the Empire of June 6, 1870, relative to the relief-domicile, a copy of which section is herewith inclosed, makes ample provision for the relief of destitute foreigners. The laws of the State of Georgia appear to contain no such provision, although the letter of the United States consul at Hamburg of January 12, 1894, relative to the Suminsky case, to which letter reference was made in my note of February 24, 1896, furnishes ground for the inference that provision for the relief of such persons has been made in each individual State of the American Union. I take the liberty, referring to the State of Georgia and its laws, herewith to inclose a copy of a letter from Mr. Hampton L. Terrill, of the court of ordinary, Chatham County, Ga., bearing date of March 6, 1896, wherein it is stated, in so many words, that the Georgia State Lunatic Asylum is for American lunatics only, and that no officer of the State, of the county, or of the city of Savannah, has any right to send a destitute foreigner to any public institution in Georgia.

Accept, etc.,


Extract from the law governing the acquisition and loss of citizenship of the Union and State hearing date of June 1, 1870.

[Section 60.—Public relief of needy foreigners.]

Foreigners must be cared for provisionally, by the local poor union in whose district they are when they first require assistance. That State of the Union to which the local poor union affording temporary relief belongs, shall be under obligations to refund the amount of the expense incurred, and to take charge of a destitute foreigner, providing, however, that it shall be optional with each State of the Union to transfer this obligation to its poor unions in pursuance of the laws of the land.