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No. 10.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Bigelow.


Washington, December 31, 1864. SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of despatch No. 556, from the late William L. Dayton, esq., relative to the arrangment made by an agent of the insurgents with the house of Silvee & Co., of London, to furnish the insurgents a quantity of insulated telegraphic wire, to be used in exploding torpedoes and vessels filled with powder under United States ships-of-war.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,



No. 7.]

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.


Paris, January 20, 1865.

SIR: Your despatches, Nos. 9 to 15 inclusive, have been received. Referring to your despatch No. 9, I have the honor to inform you that both the iron-clad vessels referred to by you, the Shanghai and the San Francisco, have been purchased and equipped for the Peruvian navy, and have both sailed under orders of the Peruvian government.

I had this, yesterday, from the lips of Mr. Barreda, the Peruvian minister, who also informed me that the San Francisco sailed under the French flag for England, where she is expected to take departure as a Peruvian vessel.

She left the French port fully armed. Our consul at Nantes informs me that her coals were to be sent to her at Quiberon bay. I may here mention that the Peruvian government is now in treaty for another vessel built, at Glasgow, for the confederate navy. The negotiation is depending only upon the news to come from America, which may render the difficulties of taking her out under the Peruvian flag insurmountable.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,



Secretary of State, &c., &c, &c.

No. 9.1

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.

LEGATION OF the United States,
Paris, January 23, 1865.

SIR: Some months since I was requested to ascertain what, if any, penal sanction attached to an oath of a French citizen, administered by a consular officer of the United States. I procured and communicated to you the verbal opinion of the procureur imperial, which was to the effect that the laws of France did not regard false swearing in such cases as perjury.

I have now the honor to enclose a written opinion upon the subject which differs so widely from the received opinion of the French law in the United States as to deserve publicity, especially among the members of the legal profession. Some commissions were recently sent to this consulate from California to take testimony in a large number of suits to which the United States government was a party.

The witnesses to be examined were all Frenchmen, and there was reason to

apprehend that it was the intention of the parties who sued out the commission to make up in the quantity of the testimony what it might lack in quality. Under my advice, Mr. Farwell, United States naval officer at San Francisco, and special agent for the government here, applied to Mr. Berryer to know precisely what degree of value the laws of France attached to the oaths of French citizens administered by a consular agent, and in what way, if any, the testimony of a French citizen taken in France could be made available in a suit pending in the United States.

Enclosed please find Mr. Farwell's letter and the opinion of Mr. Berreyer, which, if it required any support, I may say has been confirmed out of the mouths of several French lawyers with whom I have conversed upon the subject, none of whom seemed to entertain any doubt upon the subject.

By this opinion it appears not only that no penalties attach to the false testimony of a witness, sworn before the representation of a foreign government, which can be enforced by the French tribunals, but that even letters rogatory from an American to a French tribunal for the examination of a witness are executed as a matter of courtesy only, the tribunal not professing any control whatever over the witnesses after their testimony had been delivered. The original of this opinion will be placed on file at the Paris consulate. Yours, very respectfully,



Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Farwell to Mr Berreyer.

Paris, January 5, 1865.

SIR: It is proposed to take in France the testimony of certain witnesses who are citizens of and who reside in France, to be read as evidence in certain suits at law pending in the federal courts of the United States at New York and San Francisco, in which suits the gov ernment of the United States is plaintiff. For this purpose commissions have been issued by the courts, directed to certain consular officers of the United States residing in France, requiring them to take the testimony of the witnesses upon their oaths, and to return the same in writing to the courts aforesaid.

It is important to ascertain, before incurring the labor and expense of executing these commissions, whether the oath which these consular officers are required to administer to the witnesses will or will not be binding upon them by the law of France; and if, by the French law, these witnesses will be liable as for perjury, should any of them speak falsely in reply to questions propounded to them upon this examination.

I respectfully request that you will state your opinion upon these questions in writing, citing such laws and decisions as bear upon them.

Be good enough to inform me in what manner the testimony of witnesses may be legally taken in France, to be read as evidence in the courts of the countries, so that in case it shall be made to appear that such testimony is false, the witnesses so giving the same can be punished in France for perjury.

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,


B. FARWELL. Agent United States Treasury Department.


The undersigned ancien avocat is of the opinion

That the testimony of French subjects residing in France, intended to be used as evidence in a suit pending out of France, may be taken either by consular agents of the country where the suit is pending, or by a French tribunal in virtue of letters rogatory, emanating from a foreign tribunal having jurisdiction of the case;

That whatever may be the mode adopted for receiving the depositions of witnesses, these

depositions cannot be in France pursued as laying the foundation for the crime of perjury, provided for and punished by the articles 361, 262, 363, 364, 365, and 366, of the penal code; That the provisions of these articles of the code only affect depositions taken in a civil or criminal suit pending in France;

That the taking of testimony by a foreign consular agent accredited in France, but only delegated by foreign jurisdiction to receive the declarations of witnesses, cannot be considered as constituting a criminal or civil suit pending in France; it is but a step of the proceedings taken before foreign tribunals, of which the consular agent is the delegate or auxiliary, and it is no more the part of the French tribunals to know the consequences of this delegation than to know any other acts of the foreign procedure;

That the depositions received by the French tribunals in virtue of letters rogatory, emanating from a foreign tribunal and transmitted by the competent authority, do not constitute a suit pending before the French tribunals;

That the execution given to this commission is neither prescribed nor regulated by any law, and is in reality only a simple act of courtesy, conformable to international usages, and in no way divesting the foreign judicial authority originally having jurisdiction;

That, furthermore, the article 361, &c., of the penal code, only affect the depositions made in a criminal matter, or case of misdemeanor, in so far as they may be offered in evidence in the oral debates, and do not conflict with the depositions received during the trial.—(Cassation, April 26, 1816; September 14, 1826; April 19, 1839; July 22, 1843.)

That from that time, and under the circumstances hereafter indicated, the American government would not be permitted to prosecute for perjury before the French tribunals, but in virtue of the general terms of the article 1,382 of the civil code, according to which every act of man which causes another an injury obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it, the American government, after having judicially established the fact of perjury, could show the prejudice to it resulting therefrom, morally and materially, could pursue before the tribunals of France the French person who caused this injury, and cause him to be condemned to make reparation.

Deliberated at Paris, January 9, 1865.

BERRYER, Ancien Batonnier.

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.

No. 11.]

Paris, January 27, 1865.

SIR: Colonel de Chanal, a French officer, who had been sent by his government on a tour of observation to the United States, returned about a month ago, after a sojourn in our country of some eight months. A few evenings since he gave me, at great length, the impressions he had formed, and was communicating to his government. Some of these impressions, as they will have their influences in shaping public opinion here, seem worthy of being reported to you. The colonel is confident that all military operations, on a large scale, will be at an end before the close of the coming summer. He entertains no doubt of the triumph of the north, and appears to have formed a less exalted opinion of the strategy and military skill of the insurgent officers than prevails generally in Europe, or perhaps in America.

I mentioned the report that the south were agitating the expediency of arming their slaves, and asked if he thought negroes would make good soldiers; if so, whether their freedmen would fight against the north; and, if so, how much strength the insurgents could realize from that source.

The colonel said he was quite satisfied that negroes made good soldiers; he spoke of a couple of regiments paraded before him by General Butler, after a three months' drill, and who went through their manuoevres, he thought, as well as French soldiers usually did after a year's drilling. He inclined to think they might sometimes cow a little in the presence of those whom they were bred to consider the master race, but to that susceptibility he did not seem to attach much importance. In the cases in which they had failed conspicuously—and he instanced the assault which followed the explosion of the mine before Petersburg-he said white soldiers would have failed also; no soldiers, he was persuaded, would have stood firm under these circumstances. He had no doubt

that the slaves would fight for the insurgents about as well as against them. He spoke of the Fellahs annually recruited by violence for the army of the Viceroy of Egypt, and who are always ready to repeat upon their own people, the succeeding year, the outrages of which they had so recently been the victims. He thought, however, the amount of strength the insurgents would gain from this source would not be enough to seriously prolong the war. He estimated the number of slaves in the insurgent States now at about 1,000,000. These, he said, would not yield more than ten per cent. of available men at the outside. In Algeria his government had found that for a razzia of only eight or ten days, and taking every available man, they never got more than one-seventh of the population. But in these cases none were left to cultivate the soil, or to look after property. It would not be possible for the American insurgents to strip their country of its laborers in this way, for their armies depend mainly upon the culture of the soil for their sustenance, and these levies would be required to absent themselves for months instead of a few days to be of any service. He thought, therefore, that one-tenth would be a very high proportion to allow for the possible acquisitions to the insurgent armies from this source, and that would yield but about 100,000 men-altogether too small a number to resist the gathering armies of the north. Colonel Chanal satisfied himself that white labor was quite as available as black in the culture of cotton, and expressed to me his conviction that the French peasant found the culture of maize in the south of France more painful and trying to his constitution than the culture of cotton would be to them in Alabama. The colonel's observations made among the French creoles of Louisiana in regard to the past and the present relations of the negro with them were very curious and instructive, and one day, I hope, will throw their light upon the history of this great transformation, though I do not feel warranted in swelling this communication of them. I have the honor to remain yours, very respectfully,


Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.


No. 12.]

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.


Paris, January 27, 1865.

SIR: The Corps Legislatif is to open on the 15th instant. This announcement is a notorious breeder of rumors. Among them is one that an effort is afoot to make England and France unite in recognizing the southern confederacy, on condition that they will emancipate and arm their slaves. I mention this rumor not out of any respect for it, but to show to what silly shifts the partisans of rebellion here are driven to keep one another in countenance, and of what contortions the wounded carcase of secession is capable in its expiring agonies. The speech of Milner Gibson in England yesterday will probably bring this canard to an untimely end, but it will be replaced by another equally or more absurd, that will have its day on the bourse. You will find in the Moniteur of the 25th an article written apparently in the interest of those who extract comfort from the above rumor. It purports to be a letter from New York, dated the 10th instant, and is designed to show that the fate of slavery in the United States is sealed, and by implication that its abolition ought no longer to be regarded as the starting-point of a French or English policy in our country. Slavery has always been the stumbling-block of European disunion

ists, whenever they have attempted to invoke intervention. Now they are desperate enough to imagine that if they can show that slavery, the perpetuation of which was the only pretext for rebellion, is practically extinct, or in process of rapid extinction, foreign powers will come to their rescue, and extend to them in their despair the hand which was refused to them when they were formidable. There are many so infatuated as to find pleasure in reading and hearing such stuff as this, and they are represented in the editorial management of the Moniteur, as well as in less important administration journals.

I am, sir, with great respect, your very obedient servant,


Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.


Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward.

No. 13.]

Paris, January 30, 1865.

SIR: I learned on Saturday, the 28th instant, about 1 p. m., through our consul at Nantes, that a despatch had come to the Danish consul at Nantes from the French commissaire de l'inscription maritime, at Palais, Bell Isle, informing him that a "Danish vessel called the Olinde, which had been sold to the confederates, had discharged her crew of fifty men at Quiberon, and that they were on their way to the care of the Danish consul at Nantes." The same letter advised me that a steam ram, built at Bordeaux, on the model of the Castelfidardo, with a Danish crew, and under the command of a Danish captain, was lying at the island of Honat, where she had discharged her crew of forty-two men on board a vessel sent from the yard of Messrs. Dubigeon Fils, of St. Nazaire, with coals for her; and while taking on board some thirty tons, which was all the weather admitted of transshipment, a British steamer came alongside with a supply of guns, ammunition, and a crew, which were also put on board. I immediately addressed a note, of which a copy is annexed, to the minister of foreign affairs.

The following despatch from Palais, Bell Isle, received at Nantes on the night of the 27th, reached me this morning:


According to report to-day from Quiberon, the crew of a Danish steamer have been paid off. There are close to Honat island two steamers, unknown; one it is said is a ram, which passed four days ago before Palais without any flag up."

I also learned yesterday from our consul at Nantes that the ram sailed on the morning of the 28th at nine o'clock, steering southwest. These facts taken in connexion with information derived from a letter from our consul at Bordeaux, which I found on the files of the legation, an extract of which is annexed, led me to the conclusion that at least one of the vessels referred to by our consul at Nantes was built by Arman and sold to the Danish government, but not accepted, and was subsequently transferred to the confederates.

To-day I called upon Monsieur Chasseloup Laubat, the minister of marine, to learn what action he had taken or proposed to take upon the subject. He read me two despatches, speaking only of the arrival of a ram, apparently a foreign vessel, in the waters near Quiberon ; but he had as yet received no written information upon the subject. I revealed to him my suspicions that these vessels, or this vessel if there is but one, had gone into the confederate service, and stated some of the facts upon which my suspicions were founded. He said he would telegraph at once for information; that Arman had deceived him twice, and might try to do it again; if so they could not help it, as the point where these vessels lay was not under the eye or guns of the government. I replied that 14 d c *

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