to Mr. Blaine.
St. Petersburg, March 25, 1881. (Received April 11.)
Sir: In acknowledging the receipt of Department No. 55, of the 3d instant, I desire to express my thanks for the kindly commendation of my presentation of the cases of Pinkos and Wilczynski, and of the general question of the treatment of Jews in Russia. I make careful note of the desire manifested by the late honorable Secretary of State to appeal strongly to the treaty guarantee of personal freedom to American citizens sojourning peaceably, for business or pleasure, in Russia, without regard to their religious belief. I have constantly made this appeal in my conversations with and communications to the Russian authorities. But it will be noted in my No. 73, of December 30, that I called attention to the fact that the Russian Government denies that the treaty of 1832 secures to American citizens of the Jewish faith sojourning in Russia any other or greater privileges than those enjoyed in this empire by Russian subjects of the same faith. From the concluding sentence of Department No. 55, it would seem that the late Secretary’s construction of the treaty was that American citizens in Russia were entitled to the same rights and personal freedom as are extended to Russian subjects sojourning in the United States. This interpretation has never as yet been presented to the Russian Government, [Page 1013] nor has the treaty been so considered by my predecessors. If that view is to be insisted upon, I will thank you for specific instructions regarding this point. As stated in my No. 73, the laws imposing disabilites upon Jews, both foreign and native, antedate the treaty of 1832, and the minister of foreign affairs claims that said treaty does not exempt American Jews coming here from their operation.
I have strongly insisted that the passport of his government should protect every peaceable American citizen coming to Russia, and that it is not proper to institute an inquiry as to the religious belief of such citizen. The Department is correct in the supposition indicated, that no American citizen has been convicted of Judaism by “judicial procedure.” But it is to be borne in mind that in Russia it is not necessary that a judicial procedure should take place, or even the “military state of siege” exist, before a person undergoes the sentence of the law. The laws and regulations in question are usually intrusted to the police authorities, and it is sufficient for them to be satisfied in their own minds that the individual comes within the prohibitions to have them enforced.
I shall not fail to continue to press the subject upon the Russian Government at every proper opportunity.
I am, &c.,