Mr. Campbell to Mr. Seward
Sir: Your despatch of the 24th ultimo, No. 14, has been received. I will give attention to the selection of proper consular agents at Hammerfast and Tronso.
It is abundantly evident that immigration from Sweden and Norway to the United States will be larger this season and probably in excess of any former year. It is accelerated by the now universal conviction that the rebellion has been subdued, and that there will be a great demand, for labor in the United States in all branches of industry. In addition to ordinary inducements, it is thought extraordinary ones will arise in repairing the waste and destruction of war. On all sides we hear of families and individuals leaving for America, and reports from the various consulates indicate increased activity in the same direction. It is said that the Swedish foreign office issued one hundred and seven passports during the first few days of last week for persons intending to leave for the United States; and when we take into consideration the fact that emigrants are not obliged to take out passports, and probably not one in three does take out one, the conclusion points to a large immigration. The subject has created alarm among landed proprietors and governing classes. In the country meetings have been held by employers, complaining that young laboring men are leaving the country, and insisting that government should take steps to prevent an exodus of the people, so detrimental to landed and productive interests. They charge that the government of the United States, engaged in a great war, are inducing and aiding the able-bodied men to immigrate, and this idea obtaining among the people causes one class to regard its officers with jealous distrust, while another class daily seek at the doors of the legation and consulate the means to reach American shores. Again, political partisans seize the occasion to turn the feeling to their own account. Those who may be styled liberals insist that the cause of the immigration is to be found in the laws of the country, which they urge, among other things, obliges the citizen to pay taxes to support a state religion his conscience does not approve of, and that while the country is poor and wages low public burdens are onerous.
But I imagine the true reason is obvious. Receiving through letters from friends and relatives in America accounts of improved condition, and liberal institutions of homestead bills and fertile soil, the Swedish and Norwegian peasant believes he can better his condition in life, not for himself only, but for [Page 196] his children, and up to this better condition his desire reaches, as plants to the sun. The railings of government organs, and the publications, as the denunciations of interested classes, are vain. He has faith in the statements of his own class, and go he will, if he can provide the means. And that is the great impediment. The land is poor. Thousands would go if the means were provided. The doors of the legation have been besieged by persons inquiring whether the minister of the United States was not sending emigrants to America, and the same inquiry has been so constantly made of the consul (Mr. Ieefft,) that he felt called upon to insert a notice in one of the newspapers of the city to the effect that the government of the United States was not paying the passage money of immigrants, and that he had nothing to do with immigration companies. Among those who made the inquiry referred to at this legation, I recognized one or two with whom the object was simply to ascertain whether the current reports were true or not. To one and all the answer was returned that whilst I would furnish information to any one who desired to proceed to America, where all good men would be welcome who chose to go, yet that the government of the United States, its ministers, consuls and agents, had nothing to do with sending emigrants to the country, much less with furnishing funds for that purpose.
The news received within the last twenty-four hours of the surrender of Lee’s army, as well as of the capture of Richmond and Selma, has developed a feeling of satisfaction among commercial and laboring classes of which I have sometimes doubted the existence. Swedish merchants are anxious to resume the exchange of iron for cotton, whilst the laboring classes have an impression that the war was in the interest of free labor and liberal institutions, and peace will stimulate both commerce and immigration.
Congratulating you upon the triumph of our arms, and the suppression of a causeless but gigantic rebellion,
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.