The Secretary of State to the Minister in Bulgaria (Wilson)

No. 141

Sir: The Department refers to your despatch No. 503, of July 1, 1924, regarding an inquiry by the French Minister at Sofia as to whether the exchange of the ratifications of the Extradition Treaty between the United States and Bulgaria was to be taken as an indication of the relinquishment by this country of its capitulatory rights in Bulgaria. You state that apparently the countries which have ratified the Treaty of Neuilly intend to maintain their capitulatory rights and that upon examining the past records of your Legation you have been unable to find that the United States has relinquished its capitulatory rights in Bulgaria.

The Department does not perceive that there is any direct relation between the capitulatory rights enjoyed by the United States in Bulgaria and the provisions of the Extradition Treaty between the two countries. As noted in Moore’s Digest of International Law, Volume IV, page 259, the United States has not generally followed the practice of certain Powers in seeking to obtain the recovery of fugitive criminals through the action of their ministers and consuls in countries in which such ministers and consuls are by treaty invested with judicial powers. This country has, on the other hand, in two cases, that of the Ottoman Empire, in 1874,4 and Japan, in 1886,5 entered into extradition treaties with countries in which citizens of the United States were entitled to capitulatory privileges. “The Government of the United States,” Mr. Moore observes, “has been induced to take this position not only by reason of doubts as to the applicability of the extraterritorial stipulations to extradition, but also because the statutes passed to carry such stipulations into effect confer upon the ministers and consuls no authority for that purpose.”

Inasmuch as the United States has not ratified the Treaty of Neuilly, it is of course not in a position to rely directly upon the provisions of that Treaty as a basis for any claim which it may care to assert in regard to the continued enjoyment of capitulatory rights in Bulgaria. On the other hand, it does not appear that this country has at any time relinquished its capitulatory rights in Bulgaria and, accordingly, those rights may be said to be still subsistent. For your confidential information and guidance it may be added that the Department’s interest in this matter is that of assuring to American nationals in Bulgaria treatment as favorable as that which may be accorded to nationals of the most favored nation. The Department [Page 538] would therefore, under present circumstances, be disposed to press for rights of a capitulatory character only in the event that other Powers advance claims by virtue of the capitulations. Your comments on the present situation and on the attitude of the various capitulatory Powers would be appreciated.

I am [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. ii, p. 1341.
  2. Ibid., vol. i, p. 1025.