to Mr. Evarts.
Berne, December 15, 1880. (Received January 15.)
Sir: Referring to my No. 319, I have the honor to inclose herewith two French and two German copies of the report of the committee of the Council of States on the bill concerning emigration agencies, together with a translation of the amendments suggested by the committee, which will, upon comparison with my inclosure 1 to No. 300 give you the present state of the discussion of this important question.
In Friday’s issue of the Swiss Emigration Gazette there is an article reproduced from the Argentine Wochenblatt, criticising the law as it was passed by the National Council, which appears to have been written by a Swiss emigrant in Buenos Ayres. The latter portion of the article calls attention to the shocking evil of Swiss local authorities getting rid of their unpunished criminals, insane, and helpless paupers at the expense of countries across the Atlantic.
The writer describes so exactly the circumstances of those shipments as they appear on the records of this legation—notably in the cases of Jacob Zimmerman, of Trasadingen; of his namesake, from Ebikon; of Daniel Seun, from Basle; and of Theodore Meier, from Bärschwyl—that I am convinced that the waiter is well informed upon the subject; and that Buenos Ayres is about as much exposed to this abuse, in proportion to the Swiss emigration to that port, as is New York.
Similar cases, not from Switzerland alone, are constantly being reported in the American papers, and I fear that the present regulations for preventing the landing of such persons are either insufficient in their provisions or inefficient in their execution. As an evidence of this fact, I cite the search made for Daniel Senn, as reported in the New York Tribune of August 15, 1879, from which I copy the inclosed extract. We find, if this is a correct statement of facts, that a steamer being searched, the objectionable emigrant on whose account the search was instituted is not on board, owing to the intervention of American officials abroad, but that among the Swiss passengers is found another emigrant whose passage was paid by the authorities of her native village, and the sum of $2.83 ordered by them to be paid her on arrival at New York. It appears that she combined the elements of pauperism, crime, and insanity in a greater or less degree, and it is stated that on the voyage her presence had been a cause of corruption to the morals of the other emigrants.
The other cases above cited, all occurring within the past two and three-fourths years, show that this traffic still continues, and the small number coming under the notice of the legation is clearly due to the penalty which an informant in this country would incur, rather than to the lack of such cases.
In the same number of the Swiss Emigration Gazette is the advertisement of an emigration argent in Basle, announcing that third-class passengers from Havre to New York pay only 125 francs on the steamers of the French Company; that they receive their food, half a bottle of wine a day, bedding, table articles and linen, and are allowed 200 pounds baggage tree, and are insured for 1,000 francs a head for adults, and children, paying half fare, 500 francs each, and closing with the offer to forward emigrants on the very cheapest terms. This, if honestly carried out, would show clearly the pecuniary profit to the commune and [Page 1077]other local officials to indulge in the business of sending us their paupers, criminals, and lunatics, to become a burden to our tax-payers, and a source of contamination and corruption to the honest emigrant who comes to make his home among us. In his interest, if in no other, this evil should be stopped.
The subject is not a new one; the evil has been going on for years. In 1870, with a population of 5,567,229 foreign born, and 32,991,143 native in the United States, there were—
|Among the foreign born.||Among the natives.|
|One blind to every||1,698||1,935|
|One insane to every||495||1,258|
|One deaf and dumb to every||4,167||2,218|
|One idiotic to every||3,384||1,441|
|One in prison to every||637||1,364|
|One receiving public support||248||611|
Thus we find that out of the six classes of unfortunates the ratio among the foreign-born population is greater than among the native, with the exception of the deaf and dumb and idiotic, two classes of emigrants that could hardly escape detection by our officials at the port of debarkation, even with the assistance of unscrupulous local authorities of their native towns, or that of cunning emigrant agents on both sides of the water.
The great preponderance of the foreign-born element in the categories “in prison,” “receiving public support,” and “insane” is to my mind unaccountable for, unless such abuses as the “Argentine Wochenblatt” describes are systematically carried on.
The tables of the census of 1870 do not enable us to ascertain the proportion of Swiss “in prison” and “receiving public support.”
In the remaining categories of “unfortunates” I find the following comparison between the Swiss and the natives:
|Among the Swiss.||Among the native.|
|One blind to every||1,833||1,935|
|One insane to every||671||1,258|
|One deaf and dumb to every||939||2,218|
|One idiotic to every||963||1,441|
And comparing the Swiss with those of foreign birth of all countries, the census gives us the following results:
|Among the Swiss.||Among the aggregate foreign born.|
|One blind to every||1,833||1,698|
|One insane to every||671||495|
|One deaf and dumb to every||939||4,167|
|One idiotic to every||963||3,384|
From which it appears that in no one of the four given categories is the ratio of Swiss unfortunates as low as among the natives, and that only in the case of the blind and the insane it is lower than among the aggregate foreign born. While the proportion of insane Swiss is less than among the aggregate foreign born, it is nearly double that of the native born. We find the Swiss ratio of deaf and dumb almost two and one-third times as great as the native and over four times that of the aggregate foreign born; their ratio of idiotic is one and one-half times as great as that of the natives, and over three times as great as that existing among the foreign-born population. In regard to the last two categories, it would seem that a very lax control is enforced at our ports of entry, or that the climate of the United States exercises an abnormally detrimental influence on the Swiss organs of speech and hearing, and an almost equally injurious one upon the intellectual capacities of natives of this country.
It is claimed that the cases of shipment of the objectionable emigrants have diminished, and are of rare occurrence, but the advocates of this theory do not tell us when the practice fell into disuse and no one pretends that it has ceased.
We have seen its baneful results as exhibited by the census of 1870. Unfortunately, over here at least, the result of the census for 1880 is not at our disposition for consultation.
In a most valuable work on pauperism in Switzerland, compiled by Mr. G. Niederer, at the request of the Swiss Statistical Society, entitled “Le Pauperisme en Suisse pendant l’anne 1870,” we find that the authorities of public assistance throughout Switzerland relieved or assisted during a single year (1870) 31,379 children; 49,346 adults, permanently; 43,841 adults, temporarily; or 124,566 persons in all, at a cost of 12,781,090 francs, or $2,466,750.37—an average of 102.60 francs, or $19.80 per head.
In the same year, and included in the above statement, were 318 emigrants to whom subsidies were paid for the purpose of emigration, representing 22 of the 25 cantons. The amount paid to these emigrants was 55,494 francs, or $10,710.34, being an average of 174.50 francs, or $33.68 per head.
From this it will be seen that the average cost of assisting an emigrant to emigrate is 174.50 francs ($33.68), while the average cost of supporting him at home is 102.50 francs ($19.80); the difference, 71.90 francs ($13.88), represents the excess of assisting him to emigrate over maintaining him at home per annum. Who would not make an additional outlay of 71.90 francs ($13.88) to avoid paying 102.90 francs ($19.80) per annum during a lifetime? Is it to be wondered at that the local authorities who have the administration of the poor funds should indulge in so advantageous an investment for the benefit of the taxpayers whose interests they are supposed to represent? With the temptation offered by assisted emigration, we cannot expect the local authorities of this and other countries to refrain from profiting by our neglect to adopt adequate measures to protect ourselves from the evil.
Mr. Niederer says the number of indigents assisted in this manner is relatively greatest in the cantons of the Grisons, Schaffhausen, Aargovie, Tessin, Obwalden, Zug, Thurgovie, Valais, &c. (Pauperisme en Suisse, p. 290.)
Again, examining Mr. Niederer’s above-mentioned work, we find, on comparison with the official Swiss statistics of emigration, that in 1870 the number of assisted emigrants (318) was 9.1 per cent. of the total number of emigrants from Switzerland to countries across the sea [Page 1079](3,494). Of the latter, 2,377, or 68 per cent., went to North America, which would make the proportion of assisted emigration from Switzerland to North America 216 in a single year (1870).
The following table, compiled by the Swiss bureau of statistics, shows us what the emigration officially reported by the cantons from and including 1870 has been:
|Years.||Emigration from Switzerland to countries beyond the sea.||Emigration from Switzerland to North America||Perc’nt. to North America|
Translation of note of Federal Bureau of Statistics.—The returns are complete only for the year 1879. The returns are wanting for the cantons of Soleure, Vaud, and Geneva from 1870 to 1877 inclusive; for the canton of Uri, during the years 1870–’78, and for the canton of Fribourg during the years 1872 to 1877.
It should be borne in mind that the year here referred to is the calendar year, and that the table, being one of emigration, is not as reliable as our own tables of immigration.
If we apply Mr. Niederer’s ratio of assisted emigration, 9.1 per cent., to the foregoing table, we have:
|Years.||Swiss emigration to North America.||Assisted emigration to North America.|
When we bear in mind that but very few Swiss emigrate to Canada, or even to Mexico (not enough to warrant the establishment of a consulate in Canada, and only that of one in Mexico), it is clear that we are receiving the great bulk of assisted emigration going to North America, estimated at 1,906 in ten years. Were we to apply the ratio of assisted emigration obtained from Mr. Niederer’s tables to the Swiss immigration [Page 1080]as given in our more complete and perfect statistics for the years 1878–’79 and 1880, we have:
|Years ending June 30.||Number of Swiss imigrants.||Proportion of assisted emigrants.|
On the whole the statistics do not show that the Swiss unfortunates are more numerous than those of other nations in proportion to the emigration, but they do show a disproportion of deaf and dumb and idiotic that calls for examination.
The statistics do not tell us how many Swiss were in prison, or in the receipt of public support, but the following table gives us the statement of the different categories, divided among native, foreign-born (in which the Swiss are included), and the Swiss:
Table showing the number and proportion of native and foreign in prison June 30, 1870; receiving support; deaf and dumb; insane and idiotic, with a statement of the number of Swiss in the last four categories.
|Number.||Six categories of unfortunates.||Natives.||Foreign-born.||Swiss.||Aggregate in each class including native, foreign, and swiss.|
|Number.||Per cent. Of aggregate of unfortunates.||Number.||Per cent. Of aggregate of unfortunates.|
|1||In Prison June 1, 1870||24,173||75.7||8,728||24.3||Not given||32,901|
|2||Receiving public support, June 1, 1870||53,939||70.3||22,798||22.7||Not given.||76,737|
|4||Deaf and dumb||14,869||91.8||1,336||8.2||80||16,205|
|Aggregate of six classes of unfortunates.||159,111||76½||49,011||23½||Not given.||208,122|
Twenty-three and one-half per cent. of our “unfortunates” are foreign born, while our foreign-born population was but 14.4 per cent. of the aggregate population.
It is not surprising with these figures before us that we should find the question asked, “Should emigration be checked or stopped?” I have given the subject careful study for a number of years, and I answer that to check or to stop emigration would be a physical impossibility, and were it possible it would be a moral as well as a political crime. I maintain, however, with equal emphasis, that emigration should be purified, controlled, and encouraged.[Page 1081]
The time has perhaps gone by when the birthday of a king was celebrated by a general jail delivery of malefactors on condition of their emigration, but the time has not yet come when corporations and individuals, prompted by selfish motives, will refrain from passing their helpless and their criminals through the door which our lack of efficient legislation now holds open for them. It will not be done with a flourish of trumpets, but by the quiet instrumentality of some unscrupulous and grasping emigrant agent, who, while knowing the moral crime he commits, laughs at the idea of punishment, for none will come to him, none to the more guilty employer; that punishment exists only in the misery and suffering of the poor wretches whom they consign to the care and philanthropy of the American tax-payer.
Let us look at the evils of assisted emigration and the horrors attending it. The abuses of this sort became so numerous some years ago that Switzerland sent a minister to Brazil in 1860, to investigate the condition of the emigrants. In a report to his government dated October 6, 1860, he sums up the reasons for the distress existing among the Swiss colonists in Brazil, as follows:*
The reasons why the system of working on shares, the emigrant receiving half (systéme moitressier), could not generally meet with success, are:
1. The advances obtained by the colonists especially the money advanced to them in the shape of a loan by the communes to meet the expenses of the journey.
After condemning the contracts made by the authorities of the communes for their citizens and for advancing them money, he says:
But the communes went even very much further. In order to get rid of their incapable persons they connected or joined to other families; notwithstanding the prohibition in the contracts against receiving the sick, blind, deaf and dumb, crazy people and those over 60 years of age, the communes sent nevertheless their aged, their infirm, their deaf and dumb, their lunatics, their blind, and their cripples. They made persons supported by the poor fund responsible for debts of others who could not have been supposed to have any capacity, who were not in possession of their civil rights, and could not therefore contract; they even in more than one ease made them sign the contracts.
The report continues under this head, picturing the horrors of this assisted emigration, and condemns it as follows:
Many communes of the cantons of Unterwalden, of Glaris, of the Grisons, and of Aargovie distinguished themselves in this way in a most deplorable manner. The history of civilization certainly has few examples to cite in which the authorities of communes have acted in such an inhuman and such an unworthy manner to their fellow-townsmen. In many cases the advance of money was only made on condition that the emigrants should take with them some person whom they would assign to them. A citizen of Unterwalden assured me that no other alternative was given him than to bring with him a female (cadjointe) assigned him by the commune officials, or to go to the house of correction. Another colonist told me that he only knew after he was on ship-board, and the contract was handed him, that he had had a female assigned to him for whom he was responsible; to another the promise was made that special contracts should be given his aged parents, unable to work, but they were included in his contract. In order not to support them in the poor-house, the aged who had but a few years to live, were exposed to a long sea voyage, to a very difficult land journey, and to the influence of a climate to which they were not accustomed. In short, they committed a multitude of actions revolting to every sense of justice and equity, which may well be classed with the horrors of the slave-trade; moreover, the complaints of the colonists are much more bitter against their native communes than against the condition of affairs in Brazil.
Of the remaining ten reasons assigned for the failure of the Swiss colonists, two alone refer to the general question of assisted emigration; the others relate to the local conditions of the emigrants in Brazil, [Page 1082]and are therefore foreign to our examination of the question. Those two are, “(8) Despondency of the colonists,” and “(9) The bad selection of colonists,” in both of which the writer condemns the inhumanity of the communes, and depicts the revolting condition of their Victims.
The writer closes his report by saying:
The misfortune of the majority of the colonists had its origin in Switzerland, from the funds advanced by the commune, by the system of joint guarantee, by the reprehensible system of joining individuals to families to which they do not belong, and by the signing of contracts which any man somewhat versed would have regarded as injurious to the colonists, &c.
Such is the picture drawn by the Swiss minister of the misery resulting from assisted emigration in 1860, when left to the tender mercy of the communal officials:
Quis talia fando temperet a lachrymis?
In looking upon it, it should not be forgotten that the emigrants referred to were sent to Brazil under agricultural labor contracts, and that the money for their journey was advanced to the contractors by the emigrants’ native communes, as a debt on the part of the emigrants, which the latter were to pay by their toil.
Mr. Tschudi’s mission had been created by the appeals of the poor emigrants, in describing whom the President of the Swiss Confederation had written in December, 1857, to the Brazilian minister, demanding that these Swiss colonists “should be delivered from their slavery.” Slavery existed at that time in Brazil, and Mr. Tschudi, in his report, says that the employment of the word slavery was not justified. To justify this conclusion, he says:
In the United States emigrants are lauded on the docks of some harbor, where they are left to shift for themselves. The horrors unknown that there exist are, for the most part, covered by a thick veil. No one says a word of the thousands of victims who perish from hunger and misery. They are in a country where the dominant idea is, “God helps those who help themselves.” (“Aide-toi toi-même et Dieu t’aidera!”) No complaints come to us from those regions, because every one knows that no government would pay any attention to it.
But in Brazil, where, unfortunately, slavery is not yet abolished, the colonists who, by engagements too lightly contracted, find themselves entrapped, have taken up the word slavery, and have loudly proclaimed it a thousand times in every tone in their native country, where it has received a responsive echo. If the same persons had found themselves with the same contracts, and in precisely identical circumstances, at Port Natal, New Holland, or in California, it is certain that it would not occur to a single one of them to say that he was groaning in slavery.
It will be contended that Mr. Tschudi’s report refers to Brazil and not to the United States, to 1860 and not to 1880. We have his own testimony, given above, as to what the results of assisted emigration in the United States at that time were. The italics in the quotations from his report are those existing in the French edition of the report, as published by this government, and do honor alike to the author of the report and the government printing them. These quotations are here made not with a view to show what Swiss emigration is, but to point out the dangers resulting from assisted emigration.
The honest Swiss emigrants who go to make their homes among us are properly welcomed as the equals of any immigrants we receive. Their industrious, sober, and frugal habits, their sturdy adherence to the principles of civil and religious liberty, for which they and their ancestors have successfully struggled for centuries, make them the very best material for us to receive in our midst; for from such the republic has nothing to fear, and much to be proud of, when it clothes them with the high privileges of its citizenship. It is in their interest that I wish [Page 1083]to lay before you the dangers and evils of assisted emigration. It were an insult to them, and to all our naturalized citizens, to suppose that they refrain from an examination and exposure of the evils of assisted emigration.
In the period of our war the complaints of this nature were not of frequent occurrence, due no doubt to causes arising from the war, such as the fear of detection by our port officials on the part of the communes and emigration agents.
In No. 36 of the Feuille Fédérale, dated August 18, 1866, is a notice from the Swiss Federal Council to the governments of the respective cantons, as follows:
The Swiss Relief Society at New York again sets forth the abuse existing, in that Swiss communes continue to send to North America the most wretched of their poor, who, arriving without any means, fall immediately to the charge of the society and of the establishments of public charity.
It is not without reason that it is remarked that cases of this nature shed a very unfavorable light on Switzerland no less than on our fellow-citizens already established in America, while they may, at the same time, sooner or later give rise to grave remonstrances on the part of the Government of the United States.
On the 8th of February, 1867, the Swiss Federal chancery published a notice that—
The consul-general at Washington dissuaded in the most serious manner from emigrating to America all those who do not possess some fortune (capitaux) or who cannot positively count on a place assured them with relatives or friends, in the absence of which they risk falling into misery and distress. (Feuille Fédérale Suisse, 1867, I 172.)
Similar notices, based on the reports of Swiss consuls in the United States, appear in the Feuille Fédérale Suisse, 1868, I, 78; 1870, II, 775; 1877,I, 727, and warnings of a like nature are frequent in the reports of the consuls as published in the Feuille Fédérale.
In 1868 Mr. Harrington, in his No. 63 to the Department of State, gave a picture of what was then the condition of affairs. I invite your attention to that dispatch, although the circumstances of the particular cases of assisted emigration therein mentioned are in a slight degree mitigated by the correspondence transmitted in his No. 71, of October 7, 1868. They do not, however, affect the very excellent summary he makes of the effects of assisted emigration from this country to the United States as it existed in 1868.
In the former of these dispatches he suggests as a remedy the passport system:
While it would not prevent frauds and impositions, nor false oaths, it would tend largely to decrease the evil, if every emigrant from Europe, certainly from Switzerland, were compelled to be the bearer of a passport from the authorities of his commune, city, or village, in which those authorities should set forth clearly that the bearer, giving name, sex, age, &c., had never been accused of crime or acts of immorality, is of sound health, and able to earn his or her own support; and in the case of children that the parents are capable of supporting them. Those passports to be presented by the owners should be visaed by the United States consuls without charge; the consuls being instructed to refuse the visa to all such as were evidently helpless paupers, or that came within any restrictions that might be imposed by the home government.
Thanks to the energetic and successful efforts of Consul Erni, at Basle, aided by Consul Byers, at Zurich, in 1871, the commune authorities of Feusisberg, in the canton of Schwyz, were with great difficulty thwarted in their persistent endeavors to send an incurable lunatic, Baptiste Bachmann, to the United States, notwithstanding the repeated warnings of the federal government against such procedures, and in spite of the efforts of our consuls to prevent their so doing.[Page 1084]
It is not necessary here to state all the cases which, in the period from 1870 to 1880, have come to the notice of the legation. It will suffice for our purpose to examine the repressive measures that have been taken by this government to prevent the abuses and to compare their effects upon the existing condition of affairs. I have no desire to paint the matter in darker colors than those which unfortunately characterize it.
Under date of November 3, 1873, the Federal Council addressed a circular to the cantonal governments, in which, speaking of a report recently received from Mr. Kohler, their consul at Bahia, respecting the condition of Swiss colonists in the colony of Monitz, against the dangers of emigrating, to which they had repeatedly warned Swiss emigrants,* they used the following emphatic language:
There is one passage of the report of the consulate at Bahia to which we invite most specially your attention:
The communes, says Mr. Kohler, play a most pitiful role. To get rid of inconvenient citizens, they send women and children to certain death.
In fact we see, from the information the report furnishes us, that the greater number of the emigrants have received subsidies from their communes to pay their journey, this money being given to them or having been paid to the emigration agents.
It is not necessary to dwell on this to cause you to notice all that is reprehensible in this procedure on the part of these communal authorities who thus encourage those of their citizens of whom they wish to rid themselves to emigrate to colonies without having informed themselves concerning the future that awaits them, for we cannot suppose that they have known the truth, and could have committed an action which under the circumstances, might have been characterized as criminal.
Already on several occasions we have been compelled to denounce to their cantonal governments communes that have permitted themselves to be led thus to get rid of their poor citizens. (Feuille Fédérale Suisse, 1873, IV, page 292.)
It will perhaps be said that this circular, like Mr. Tschudi’s report, refers to abuses existing in South America and does not apply to the United States. Unfortunately such is not the case, for on the 4th of November, 1873 (the day after the issue of the circular), my predecessor, Mr. Rublee, under instructions from the Secretary of State, informed the Federal Council, in reference to an infirm and ruptured assisted emigrant unable to earn a living, who had received $3 and his ticket to New York from the authorities of his commune, that he was—
instructed by his government to inform the High Federal Council that it is confidently expected that the Government of Switzerland will adopt measures which will in future prevent similar occurrences, the tendency of which is to disturb the relations of cordial amity and friendship which ought to prevail between the two republics.
To which the Federal Council replied by inclosing a copy of the circular to Mr. Rublee, saying that they had sent it with a translation of his note to the canton that had assisted the emigrant to reach New York.
After the investigation of the case had been made wherein the physical incapacity of the emigrant was not mentioned, the Federal Council informed Mr. Rublee that—
As to the general question whether the communes in the Grisons sometimes furnished their poor capable of working the means of emigrating to America, the government of the canton of Grisons replies in the affirmative.†
Thus, beyond this information and a copy of the circular, the United States received no redress for the unfriendly act of the commune in aiding a helpless being to emigrate to New York.
In reply to Mr. Rublee’s report of the result of the case, the Secretary of State informed him:‡
In so far, therefore, as the canton assumes the right to dispatch its paupers to the [Page 1085]United States, whether capable of labor or not, and as the Federal Government sustains the canton, the United States are constrained to regard the act as one not indicating the cordial friendship which has subsisted and should subsist between the two republics.
The case furnishes us in another way a striking evidence of what assisted emigration is. The cantonal authorities of the Grisons declined shortly afterwards to allow a commune to send a somewhat similar emigrant. We have seen from Mr. Niederer’s work that in 1870 this was the canton most addicted to assisting its emigrants. The emigration from the Grisons for 1870 had been 155, of whom 126 went to North America; in 1871 it was 211, of whom 179 to North America; in 1872, 369, of whom 324 to North America; in 1873, 304, of whom 256 to North America; in 1874, 72, of whom 59 to North America, and it has remained much less ever since.
Whether this sudden decrease is due to the effects of the circular or to a fear on the part of the local authorities that the assisted emigrants could not pass the examination at our ports of entry I am unable to say, but it is evident that both the circular and the action of our authorities in the case of Kruger were coincident with a decrease of emigration from the Grisons to about one-fourth its former proportions, and that it has since dwindled to about one-tenth of what it was. It may safely be inferred that the assisted emigrants from the Grisons were, as a rule, prior to 1874, largely composed of objectionable elements.
We are told by the defenders of assisted emigration from this country that the money furnished by the communes or cantons for this purpose is not to be considered as a payment by these latter to rid themselves of their paupers and objectionable classes; but that it is a withdrawal on the part of the emigrant of his share in the joint stock of the commune. The doctrine is not a new one. In 1855 the Federal Council wrote to Mr. Fay, then minister of the United States here:
It should not be forgotten that a portion of the soil of Switzerland belongs to the communes, and that if upon the departure of members of the commune the latter receive a subvention, it is not a charity that is accorded them, but an indemnity for their non-enjoyment (of the privilege of the commune) that is granted them; that the Swiss citizenship and nationality is not lost even by the acquisition of that of another country*, and that it would be but justice to make a distinction in favor of the Swiss emigrants in the tide of emigration. (Federal Council to Mr. Fay, March 19, 1855. See Mr. Fay’s No. 116 to the Secretary of State.)
An experience of over twenty-five years shows that this very class of assisted emigrants, for whom the Swiss Government asked special distinction on our part, has been found largely tainted with pauperism, insanity, deformity, and vice.
The question is not whether those emigrants are all of the objectionable classes, but whether among them we find an undue proportion of such classes. There is ground for supposing that nearly all, if not all, the objectionable emigrants from this country to the United States, with the exception of fugitives from justice and Mormons, have been assisted.
While I am unwilling to question the remarks of the High Federal Council as cited above, it would seem, from Mr. Niederer’s remarks concerning the subventions for emigration in 1870, that there had been some change in regard to the method of making such subventions. He says in his work on pauperism, page 290:
Subsidies for emigrating have been accorded to 318 persons or families; the total of these subsidies amounts to 55,494 francs, or 174.50 francs per head.
On page 299 lie says, in regard to Argovie, the canton spending the largest sums to assist emigration (1,629,900 francs, or $314,560, from 1848 to 1877):*
Subsidies are levied on the cantonal poor fund to help pay the board of poor children in families and in institutions; to place in apprenticeship poor young boys and girls; to subsidize district relief societies; societies of persons of the sex (sic), and charitable establishments, to permit the indigents to emigrate.†
But it is claimed that the assisted emigration comes from the wealthy cantons. An examination of Mr. Niederer’s book does not bear this out. We have seen that he specifies 8 cantons as notoriously addicted to assisted emigration. I believe the amount per capita of the poor funds in the cantons would be a fair test of their wealth, as it relates to this subject.
The following table gives us the number of citizens in the cantons, the amount of the poor funds, the rate per head of the poor funds, and the relative rank of these cantons under this test of wealth:
|Cantons.||Number of citizens.||Amount of poor funds in canton.||Per head of citizen.||Rank of canton in relative wealth of poor funds.|
|All Switzerland (25 cantons).||2,517,555||133,822,624||53.16|
Thus out of the eight cantons there are but two that attain the average degree of wealth, and of the remainder we find but one that attains to four-fifths of the average throughout Switzerland, and the four remaining cantons are among the five poorest. So much for this claim in favor of assisted emigration. The evil, it will be seen, exists among the rich as well as the poor cantons. Recent cases show that it exists in other cantons besides those cited by Mr. Niederer.
The following table, compiled from the publications of the Swiss Federal Bureau of Statistics, gives us an approximate idea of what the emigration from those eight cantons has been from 1869 to 1879 inclusive; 9,046 emigrated to North America out of a total emigration of 17,695. If we bear in mind the discrepancy which always exists between the Swiss tables of emigration and our tables of immigration, we may safely say that the emigration to the United States from these cantons addicted to assisting their poor to emigrate amounted to upwards of 11,000.[Page 1087]
Table showing the number of emigrants from the eight cantons principally addicted to assisting their poor to emigrate, and the number emigrating to North America from 1869 to 1879 inclusive.
[Compiled from Swiss official statistics.]
|North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.|
Table showing the number of emigrants from eight cantons, &c.—Continued.
|North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.||North America.||Total.|
Having seen what portion of this emigration we receive, let us now look at the condition of affair here. In the annual report of the government council of the canton of Schaffhausen* for the year 1879 we find a table, compiled from official returns from the governments of the different cantons (with the exception of five), showing that the number of the beggars and vagrants arrested by the police had increased in those cantons furnishing returns from 12,215 in 1874 to 31,085 in 1878. The government of Schaffhausen estimates the total number of vagrants and beggars arrested in Switzerland in 1878 at 40,000, or 6.6 per cent. of the population, which the cantonal government with reason denominates as a “frightful number.” I inclose a copy of this table herewith, to which I have added a statement of the population of each canton, for the purposes of comparison.[Page 1088]
In the year 1879, according to the above-mentioned report*—
The number of persons in the canton of Schaffhausen arrested was never so great as in this year, namely, 1,240. The daily average was 43. It repeatedly happened that the cells were overcrowded. Inasmuch as for a long period there was no place in the penitentiary, 21 of the convicts had to work out their sentence in the city hall (used as a place of detention).
Such is the picture furnished us by the second canton in wealth.
Nor is the condition of the honest or industrious a prosperous one; but a few days since there was a meeting in this city of workmen out of work, petitioning the municipal council to furnish them work that they might earn their livings. In every portion of Switzerland the supply of laborers is greater than the demand.
In one branch of the federal legislature the petition of the “Grütliverein,” supported by 18,000 signatures, in favor of a gigantic emigration scheme to America, is now pending. The town of Zug recently voted 200 francs to each adult and 40 francs to each child conditioned on their emigrating, with their relations (Eltern) having a claim on the commune, to another hemisphere.†
Is it to be wondered at that, with no effective barriers to impede their so doing, we should find communes and local authorities seeking, under the circumstances, to rid themselves of their objectionable classes? Under the existing condition of affairs, when they can do so almost with impunity, at the rate of $33.68 (174.50 francs) per head, is it not rather to be wondered at that this cheap and effectual method of saddling the American public with their burdens is not more frequently resorted to? Emigration from this country has taken a new and active start. We had 6,156 Swiss immigrants last year (ending June 30, 1880), as compared with 3,161 in the previous year. We had 761 as compared with 492 in the calendar years 1878 and 1879 from the eight cantons addicted to assisted emigration.
I do not maintain that all the emigrants from this country, receiving either a subsidy from the authorities, as Mr. Niederer expresses it, “to permit the indigent to emigrate,” or “an indemnity for the non-enjoyment of their commune privileges” as it was described in 1855 by the Federal Council, are of the objectionable classes. Many, no doubt, among the large emigration from this country, have turned over a new leaf, and under the benign influence of our free country have become worthy citizens of the country of their adoption.
But I believe that the special distinction in favor of assisted emigration which the United States has for a quarter of a century accorded to it, as requested by the Swiss Government, has been the source of many heinous abuses, and that it tends to the demoralization and corruption of the honest emigrants, and to the pollution of our social and political relations.
If there is any benefit to the United States in tolerating a system which brings us cripples, lunatics, helpless paupers, and ex-convicts, who reach us with the paltry sum of a few dollars furnished by their communes, because it is their share of a joint interest in their native soil, it is difficult to see wherein that benefit lies. It makes but little difference to the American taxpayers, who have to support them, whether the pittance with which they reach our shores is due to mistaken legislation or comes from a mistaken charity; one or both of which enable the bearers of such pittance to come to fill our prisons, our poor-houses, and eleemosynary institutions, and to augment our criminal classes. [Page 1089]Should we not rather adopt the ideas which Mr. Tschudi assigns to us, and aid ourselves? We certainly should hold every country responsible that permits abuses to exist in assisted emigration. How much more then should we hold Switzerland responsible for such abuses in a class of emigrants for whom she has asked for special consideration!
But we will be met with the argument that these cases are of rare occurrence, and that we do not frequently suffer therefrom; that it is not as bad as it was; and we must not interfere with free emigration. If these cases are of rare occurrence, it is singular that at no period of the existence of this legation have more frequent complaints of this nature come to its notice, and called for its action, than since the spring of 1878. The number of cases reported in the American and European press during the same period is very large, and I find an undue proportion of those mentioned by the press to be Swiss. Free emigration is what we need and what I advocate. The assisted emigration is not free. Swiss statesmen have denounced it as “slavery,” and the Federal Council have told us that where the communes are guilty of these abuses, without informing themselves of the future in store for their victims, their action may be “characterized as criminal.” It is time that this “slavery” and this criminal offense should be extirpated. It remains for us to decide whether we will intrust this extirpation to the guilty parties, or whether we shall condemn it to perish as a relic of the feudal times, when the rulers of Europe sold their subjects and citizens to perish under the banners of foreign princes.
I have fully reported to you the legislation contemplated and in course of enactment here. I have in like manner shown in my No. 263 the inefficiency of such legislation to reach the evil. The proposed law does not mention the communes or the communal authorities, who are the guilty parties; it forbids the agents to ship some only of the objectionable classes, and with respect to them the fine imposed for this offense is only from $3.86 to $38.60, an amount altogether inadequate to deter them. It is much as if, by law, the thief could not be punished, and the receiver of the stolen goods were let off on payment of half or one-quarter of the amount stolen. We have little or nothing to hope for from this proposed law, and we are practically told to help ourselves. Certainly, under these circumstances, we are called upon to defend ourselves. In that way alone can we obtain free emigration. That I may not be accused of exaggerating the frequency of the complaints received at the legation during 1878 and 1879, and those referred to above as mentioned in the public press, even at the risk of cumbering your files with repetition, I now furnish you with an abstract of those cases:
i.—cases coming officially under the notice of the legation, 1878 and 1879.
1. Jacob Zimmermann, of Trasadingen, canton of Schaffhausen.—On the evening of May 30, 1878, the legation received information emanating from a Swiss who had been in the United States, but who is now a resident of Basle, that a helpless imbecile, forty-two years of age, subject to fits, deprived of all means of support, who had been within three months sent back to Trasadingen by the police of Rhinefelden, in the neighboring canton of Argovie, as a “lunatic and destitute,” was to be sent by his commune to America. The legation at once notified the Federal Council of the case, protested against the shipment, and asked for an investigation.
The legation, at the same time, by letter and by wire, instructed the [Page 1090]consulate at Basle to protest to the authorities at Schaffhausen against the shipment. In both cases the protests were made in ample time to have rendered the detention of the emigrant at Antwerp, whence he was by his contract to proceed on June 1, possible, but he was not detained. The legation then requested the United States consul at Antwerp to have him detained there until an inquiry could be made as to his condition and the circumstances attending the shipment, but upon representations made by the President of the Confederation this request was withdrawn, and the emigrant was allowed to leave Antwerp for the United States, via Hull and Liverpool, at the time specified in his contract. The legation finding that there was no desire, either on the part of the cantonal nor of the communal officials, to cause Zimmermann’s detention, and no power on the part of the Federal Government to do so, notified the consul of the United States at Liverpool, by telegraph, of the circumstances of the case. The latter laid the telegram before the agents of the ship, and the latter, with Zimmermann before them and subject to examination, declined to receive him on board of their vessel.
The following extracts from the minutes of the town meeting of Trasadingen not only show us the motives for sending the man to America, but also exhibit the mental and physical unfitness of the emigrant:
Extract from the protocol of the proceedings of the commune of Trasadingen, April 16, 1878.
The following report and the motion of the commune council in the matter of the emigration of Jacob Zimmermann, Andreas’s son, were read:
report and motion of the commune council of trasadingen to the honorable commune of the same place.
Mr. President, worthy fellow-citizens: Jacob Zimmermann, the son of Andreas, a citizen and native of this place, has been already for a long time without employment, and he will no longer be able to find work as a factory workman in the town. He has already several times been employed to do chores by inhabitants of this place. He has, however, never been long in any one place, as agriculture does not suit him, and he is, in general, presumptuous and eccentric. It is to be feared that he will, through his present vagabond wanderings, become mentally and physically broken down, and that he will soon be left entirely to the charge of the commune. He has, however, a desire to emigrate to America, and begs the commune to aid him to do so.
The commune council, in consideration:
- That if this is not granted he will have in a very short time to be supported out of the poor funds, and in a single year would cost the commune more than the expense of the journey would amount to.
- That it is not to be feared that he would be sent back, as he has several near relatives in America who are in easy circumstances, and care would be taken that he should find work and a living.
Resolved, That it shall be proposed to the commune that it should determine that there shall be given to Jacob Zimmermann, Andreas’s son, the money requisite for the journey to his relatives in America out of the funds of this commune.
The commune, after a long discussion, and after the motion of Mr. Hallauer, government counsellor, as follows, “That we should wait another year, and the trial should be made whether the party in question could not be lodged in the compulsory labor establishment of Kalchrain, or with an inhabitant of the town,” had been rejected—
Resolved, That the proposition of the commune council be adopted as a decision.
Few of Mr. Tschudi’s remarks are too strong to qualify the enormity of such proceedings. Here we find, as we find in many another similar case, the pretext raised that the man wished to go to America. There was but one reason for gratifying that wish, and that was that it was cheaper to pay 160 francs to send him to New York than it would be to keep him in the commune. It is stated in the minutes that the man “has near relatives in America in easy circumstances, and care would [Page 1091]be taken that he should find work and a living.” The names and addresses of those relatives were nowhere mentioned in the very voluminous report of the result of the investigation made under the direction of this government, and a similar silence is maintained as to by whom the “care was to be taken that he should find work and a living.” Is there any doubt that such a man, maimed as to one hand, landed in New York with but 15 francs ($2.89), which is the sum he had when he reached Liverpool, would have to look to the American taxpayer for his living?
A similar vagueness concerning “relatives in America” is almost invariably found in this class of cases; it is not claimed that those alleged relatives had any desire to support him, much less that they were under any moral or legal obligation to do so. It was by these subterfuges that the good people of Trasadingen were led into being participators in one of the foulest crimes that disgraces the annals of assisted emigration, as shown in the archives of this legation.
This case has another circumstance attending it, which is common to many others of a like nature, viz, that the communal and cantonal authorities exhibited far more zeal in their futile endeavors to ascertain whence the legation first obtained its information than they did in preventing the shipment.
There is a final characteristic which may here be mentioned, viz, that in this and in similar cases the cantonal and communal authorities seek to impeach the charges made by the legation on the ground that the information on which they are based has been obtained from rival emigrant agents, rather than to rebut the allegations of such statements by facts or the testimony of disinterested parties. It is somewhat singular that for this purpose they should generally rely on the statements of the culpable emigrant agent, and that of the more guilty and more interested officials of the commune.
Might it not be supposed that the writer of the article in the Swiss Emigration Gazette had Jacob Zimmermann, of Trasadingen, in his mind when he wrote:
As notably unable of earning their living, not only should be included those who suffer from bodily deformity, but also those mental cripples, who unfortunately, in a greater or less number, are everywhere to be found, and who are designated by the words imbeciles (blödsinnige) or “cretins.” To send such unfortunate beings to America should be classed among the criminal offenses, for such persons are here thrown entirely upon the charity of their fellow-countrymen, and that charity has its limits, or they must miserably perish in distress. Such cases unfortunately occur more often than people at home imagine.
2. Jacob Zimmermann, of Ebikon, Canton of Lucerne.—Under date of January 29, 1879, the legation was instructed to use its good offices in behalf of Zimmermann, who had become a citizen of the United States, and whose property was withheld from him by a guardian, appointed with the consent of his relatives by the communal authorities. The legation, after much difficulty, and notwithstanding the endeavors of the communal authorities to prevent it, succeeded in obtaining the release of the property, amounting to several thousand dollars. The man is thus described by his attorney in New York:
The man is destitute here; has to be fed by other people; was sent to this country as a man unable to make his living; he has two ruptures caused by his brother just before leaving for this country.* * * His guardian paid for his voyage to this country. Zimmermann landed in New York; has worked for a couple of weeks as a farm hand, but could not hold out on account of his ruptures; he has not had any place of residence to so speak of; was for sometime a tramp; made at times his living by rag-picking and begging; has to some extent to receive assistance from the Swiss Benevolent Society of this ‘city, and so on; * * * has never followed any regular [Page 1092]occupation here; is by trade an organ builder (church organs), same as his brother in Switzerland.* * * A brother of Mr. Z. has written to Jacob to let him know how much Jacob would give him if he would cause the communal government of Ebikon to discharge him, Jacob, from his guardianship, and thus get his money.
Buenos Ayres is not free from this class of individuals, according to the article in the Swiss Emigration Gazette.
Cases are known to us which are surrounded by the most terribly aggravating circumstances, where this class of unfortunates have been sent off by their relatives, with the assistance, of the authorities of their native places, notwithstanding, or rather because they had come into possession by inheritance of not inconsiderable property. The property, however, is naturally not sent with them, but is placed under the paternal care of a relative as guardian, and under that of the officials of the orphans’ court until the object is attained, that is, until the emigrant has perished in a more or less miserable manner. Our consuls should be empowered to send back such people, and those who have assisted in sending them off should be held responsible for the cost of their return journey, and an additional fine should be imposed in cases where aggravating circumstances are shown, as described above.
3. Many Swiss Emigrants.—Under date of January 22, 1879, the legation was instructed that the Secretary of the Treasury having received a report from the legation concerning a newspaper notice relating to the emigration of a family from Bressancourt, canton of Berne, consisting of eleven persons, the eldest child being sixteen years of age, and the youngest scarcely two months, had requested the collector of the port at New York to inquire into the matter, and that the collector having brought the subject to the notice of the commissioners of emigration at Castle Garden, had received from them a statement from which it appears “that many Swiss emigrants have been returned by the commissioners to the ports whence they came.” The legation is unable to furnish a statement of how many emigrants were thus returned, nor does it possess the means of ascertaining whether all of them were returned during 1878 and 1879. Such information could doubtless be furnished by the commissioners of emigration, and would afford a valuable assistance to the investigation of this subject.
4. Daniel Senn, of Basle, an inmate of the poor-house at Basle since 1877, was to have been sent to the United States in July, 1879. The legation protested against the shipment, and the man was thus prevented being sent by the local authorities. Senn, who was sixty-two years of age, had served seven years’ imprisonment in the house of correction for embezzlement; had been afterwards employed in a clerical capacity by the government prefect at Sissach until 1876, and in 1877 was admitted to the poor-house at Basle. He claimed to be a citizen of the United States, but the claim was not borne out by the documents he presented, nor does his name appear upon the list of the citizens of the United States in Basle as furnished by the police at that place. The man is weak-minded and has since attempted to commit suicide. It was the search for this man that led to the detection of Louisa Tschopp.
5. Theodor Meier, of Bärschwyl, Canton of Soleure.—A deformed pauper, unable to do hard work; has never learned a trade; was sent to New York by the vice-president of his commune, who furnished him with his passage and an order on New York for $3. Under date of November 18, 1879, the legation was instructed that the commissioners of emigration of the State of New York stated that “the law as now in force does not give power to compel the return of any pauper or lunatic that might be brought to this country.”
The legation was instructed to bring the case to the attention of the [Page 1093]Swiss Government, with a view to obtaining such an exercise of its power, if possible, as might not only cause the return of this person to his native country, but may be effective in preventing shipments of this character in the future. The legation did so on the 8th December, 1879. On the 23d of April, 1880, the Swiss Government informed the legation that it had hastened to invite the government of Soleure to issue the necessary orders to satisfy as speedily as possible the requirements of our government; moreover that it appeared from a letter sent by the communal authority of Bärschwyl to the government of the canton of Soleure that said authority had written to the Swiss consul at New York asking him to procure an asylum for Theodor Meier, and in case that were not possible, to have him returned to his native country; and that inasmuch as no reply has been received to that request the communal authority “admits that Meier has found an asylum at New York.” Since then the legation has not heard anything concerning the case, and presumes that the man is still in the United States.
It is to such cases as these that the correspondent of the Argentine Wochenblatt refers when he writes:
The first point concerns that unjustifiable traffic in human beings, of common occurrence, of which certain unprincipled local authorities in Switzerland are sometimes guilty, whereby they rid themselves of persons unable to gain a living, whom they lure into consenting to emigrate to America by false representations, or even send them without their consent to some transatlantic port, well knowing that the poor wretches—at least as far as it depends upon themselves—have been deprived of every facility for returning. Concerning the method of carrying on this wretched traffic, as well as the pitiful consequences which it involves, the High Federal Council has already received so many complaints and descriptions, that we may here touch briefly upon the topic. It suffices to say that the honor of Switzerland demands that a stop should be put to this scandal, and the time for so doing can never be more appropriate than at the enactment of a law on emigration matters.
Unfortunately the proposed law imposes no punishment upon the presidents of communes, who, as in the case of the vice-president of Bärschwyl, are guilty of such offenses. The commissioners of emigration say that our law gives them no power to compel the return of any pauper or lunatic. Therefore the emigrant agents alone can be punished, if the proposed Swiss law should be enacted, by a fine of from $3.86 to $38.60 for this “traffic in human beings of common occurrence.” Our laws appear to leave it unpunished. Can we then complain! The cases reported in my numbers 266 and 277, where the emigrant agents inquired concerning the shipment of nearly blind people, indicate that the traffic is still carried on.
ii.—cases of objectionable emigration from switzerland noticed in the press of both countries from september 22, 1878, to december 31, 1879.
The case of Jacob Zimmermann, of Trasadingen, caused me from the receipt of the note of the Swiss Government, dated August 3, 1878 (wherein his fitness, both mental and physical, is maintained), to collect the notices concerning shipments of that nature to the United States, and those wherein the destination of the emigrant is not stated, appearing in the public press, and relating to emigrants from different countries in Europe, Those extracts have been impartially selected by me from the newspapers that have come to my notice. I do not pretend that it is a complete collection of all the cases reported by the press, but I can say that I have made it as complete as I could, without favoring [Page 1094]any particular country or suppressing any extract coming to my notice from September, 1878, to December 31, 1879.
Those extracts, of which the following is a brief summary, relate to 34 persons, 21 of whom are Swiss, and but three of those extracts refer to cases reported as coming officially under the notice of the legation.
Summary of cases of objectionable emigration mentioned by the press, September 22, 1878, to December 31, 1879.
|Newspaper.||No of Persons referred to.||Town, canton, or country.||Brief description of newspaper statement.|
|Journal de Genève, September 22, 1878.||11||Bresancourt, Berne||Family with nine children; the oldest sixteen and the youngest scarcely two months.|
|Pall Mall Gazette, London, February 5, 1879.||1||Germany||A lunatic found in England, en route for America. Says: “The authorities in Germany don’t seem to mind sending their lunatics here. It is becoming quite a common thing.”|
|New York Times, February 9, 1879; Der Bund. March 5, 1879; Intelligenz Blatt, Berne, March 5, 1879.||3||Canton of Argovie||Abraham Koenig, of Bottenwyl, Jacob Werfeli, and Johann Fritz, of Zofingen, in the canton of Argovie, all incapable of earning a living, sent to New York by the authorities of their native places, at a cost of 150 francs a piece.|
|New York Times, February 11, 1879.||2||Germany||Criminals v Uxhull and Fritz Saeger.|
|New York Times, February 13, 1879.||1||Germany||A criminal, Edward Parkes, arrived in New York February 6, 1879; sentenced to State prison for 2½ years February 11, 1879.|
|New York Times, February 20. 1879.||1||Italian||Deformed cripple; professional beggar.|
|New York Tribune, February 18, 1879.||3||Ireland||Three girls about to become mothers.|
|New York Tribune, February 18, 1879.||3||Sweden||Paupers sent by the authorities of native place.|
|Intelligenz Blatt, Berne, June 9, 1879; Zofinger. Tagblatt.||3 (or more)||Graben, near Herzogenbuchsee, canton Berne, Switzerland.||The authorities of Graben send the Brugger family to America. They have recently been assisted by the commune. The husband is incapable of work; the wife is half blind.|
|Amerikanishe Schweizer Zeitung; Intelligenz Blatt, Berne, August 8 and 9, 1879.||1||Lichtensteig, canton St. Galle, Switzerland.||Heinrich Brunner had been twice in an insane asylum; was sent to New York on steamship Amerique June 22. 1879, with $18.85; was sent to Ward’s Island in July. 1879.|
|New York Times, August 15, 1879.||1||Basle||Daniel Senn, criminal in poorhouse; case fully described in previous chapter. (Supra.)|
|New York Times; New York Tribune, August 15, 1879.||1||Hellstein, canton of Basle, Switzerland.||Louise Tschopp, immoral character; had been frequently in prison; was sent to the United States with an order for $2.83 by the authorities of her commune; accused of criminal intercourse with passengers on voyage.|
|New York Tribune. August 16, 1879.||1||Sweden||A lunatic.|
|New York Tribune, August 16, 1879.||1||Germany||A helpless pauper, whose journey was paid by the authorities of his native place, and $2 given him.|
|New York Tribune. November 8, 1879.||1||Bärschwyl, canton of Soleure, Switzerland.||A deformed pauper sent to United States with $3, by authorities of his commune. (See preceding chapter, supra.)|
|Total||34||(Of whom 21 are Swiss.)|
In order that we may more fully judge what this discrepancy amounts to, let us compare the numbers of each nationality with the immigration from those countries.
|Countries.||No of cases.||Immigration year ending—||Total immigration 1879 and 1880.|
|June 30, 1879.||June 30, 1880.|
The ratio of the cases of objectional emigration referred to by the press is to the total immigration for 1879 and 1880 in each nationality as follows: Irish, 1 to 30,538; German, 1 to 23,818; Italian, 1 to 18,086; Swedish, 1 to 12,546; Swiss, 1 to 443⅔.
Such a discrepancy would only be increased were we to include in this table the number of cases set forth in the abstract of those coming officially before the legation.
I attribute this discrepancy, as I attribute that of a somewhat similar though less marked nature in the census of 1870, solely to assisted emigration. That such discrepancies will continue to exist there can be no reason for doubting, so long as we receive unchecked the assisted emigrants from the communities of Europe.
There is another class of emigrants that we should stop, and that is the recruits for the Mormon polvgamists. One hundred and nineteen of these from Switzerland passed through Rotterdam alone in a single month of 1878, and were followed by 103 of the same nationality in May and June, 1879.* There is no means under existing legislation to check this flow of women imported into the United States for immoral purposes, unless the act of March 3, 1875, could be applied to them. It is a far more dangerous element than the Chinese women against whom that act was framed, and will not fail to show its effects if we do not deal with it at once.
It may be pleaded in favor of assisted emigration from Switzerland to the United States that the federal and cantonal governments contribute regularly to the funds of the very excellent Swiss relief societies scattered throughout the United States. In reply to this argument it may well be doubted whether, even if those contributions were sufficient to maintain the indigent Swiss, it would be expedient for the United States to continue to tolerate the existing abuses in that emigration. According to a recent table issued by the Federal Government there were in the United States eleven Swiss relief societies, ten of whom receive a subsidy from the confederation amounting in the aggregate to $559.70, and subsidies from the cantons amounting in the aggregate to $579, making a total of $1,138.70 for the whole number of societies in the United States. I am unwilling to disparage or to detract from the most praiseworthy motives of the federal and cantonal governments in supporting the philanthropic and charitable endeavors of their countrymen abroad. It is a good example, most worthy of imitation by other [Page 1096]governments. When, however, their so doing is used as an excuse for assisted emigration, it cannot be maintained as valid. The Swiss relief societies in the United States spent during 1879 the sum of 65,610 francs, or $12,643.48; the federal and cantonal subsidies for the present year ($1,138.70) are less than 9 per cent. of the expenses of the societies for last year. The balance is covered in a large degree by the generous contributions of the residents of the United States of Swiss, American, and other nationalities. We have seen that the Swiss immigration for 1880 (year ending June 30) was 6,156; that for the present year will doubtless exceed that number; based on the emigration of last year, the total amount of the subsidies would give the immigrants 18 7/10 cents a head, while if it were distributed among the Swiss in the United States it would give them less than 1½ cents apiece.
An examination of the table of the Swiss relief societies throughout the world shows that the subsidies given by the cantons and the confederation amount to 34,920 francs, of which the societies in the United States receive 5,900 francs, or a trifle (80 francs) more than one sixth. It is calculated that there are 100,000 Swiss in the United States; if the distribution of the subsidies is in accordance with the number of Swiss in the different countries this would indicate that Switzerland has in the neighborhood of 600,000 citizens living in foreign countries, a large proportion for a country with barely three millions of inhabitants. If the distribution of the subsidies is not made on this basis, then a heavier burden is placed on the Swiss in the United States than on their fellow-countrymen in other lands. The expenses of those relief societies in the United States for 1879 amounted to 65,610.29 francs, or more than one-fifth of the total (315,482.91 francs) of those throughout the world, a fact that appears to indicate that the Swiss in the United States require proportionally more relief than those in other countries. It is difficult, therefore, to see how the subsidies given to those societies can in any way be construed into an excuse for assisted emigration as it exists from the communes of this country to the United States. The burdens of that emigration and the baneful influences thereof fall more heavily on the American public than on the Swiss contributions to the relief societies in the United States.
Reciprocity is one of the elements which should characterize the intercourse of nations. We cannot, with the preceding summary before us, refrain from considering how the cantons that “levy subsidies on their cantonal poor funds to permit their indigents to emigrate” treat the indigent of other nationalities who happen to be among them, or even those who are overtaken by misfortune while dwelling in their midst. The action of the police of Rhinefelden, in the canton of Argovie, in sending Jacob Zimmermann back to Trasadingen (“weil mittellos und geisteskrank”) “because destitute and insane,” furnishes us an answer to our inquiries on this point. And without injustice we may say ex uno disce omnes. Nor can the authorities of Schaffhausen complain, for in 1879 the number of persons “sent off from the canton with a transportation-order, or simply over the frontier” (“aus dem Kanton wurden algesehoben mit Transportbefehl oder einfach über die Grenze”), was 2,920.* The vigilance and activity of the authorities of Argovie in this direction is not outdone by those of Schaffhausen. In those cases only where a foreign official protests against the shipment of such individuals do those authorities complain, as was done by the government of Schaffhausen, in reference to the action of this legation, and the [Page 1097]consulate at Basle, respecting Zimmermann. The authorities of Argovie have on several occasions complained of similar actions of our consuls to prevent the forwarding of unfit persons to the United States. Among the cantonal and local authorities of the respective cantons there is a constant and lively game of shuttlecock and battledore, having the paupers as the shuttlecock; and should a foreign consul take exception to their casting the latter on the territory and charity of his country, they are quick to resent his action, and to call him to account for interfering in the movements of a Swiss citizen. Nor are they more indulgent in regard to citizens of the United States established in or passing through Switzerland who fall into distress or are overtaken by misfortune. The cantonal governments on more than one occasion have, through the intermediary of the federal government, asked the legation to provide for the support of such distressed Americans, or to send them to the United States. Such applications have generally been made in regard to natives of Switzerland, and are even sometimes accompanied by a threat that a failure on the part of the legation to comply therewith will lead to the expulsion of the individual on whose behalf it is made. The most recent application of this nature was made at the suggestion of the canton of Argovie in reference to a native of that canton who denied having been naturalized in the United States, and whose naturalization there was not established by the investigation made for that purpose. The number of beggars and vagrants arrested by the police in the canton of Argovie in 1879 was 3,257, and the number of police transportations was 7,740 as compared with 6,458 in 1878.* In 1879 the communes of Argovie contributed “unterstützung” amounting to 22,374.15 francs, or $4,218.01, to emigrants, as against 9,755.35 francs, or $1,882.78, in 1878. In 1879 North America was the destination of 289, and in 1878 of 122. The total number of emigrants from Argovie was in 1878, 214; in 1879,359.†
These emigrants are said to have had the following amount of property:‡
|Years.||Total number of emigrants.||Vermögen property.||Unterstützung assistance.|
|Taken with them.||Left behind them.||From the communes.||From the canton.|
|1878||214||48,570 00||41,590 00||9,755 35||34 77|
|1879||359||62,854 30||69,826 64||22,374 15||381 00|
|Total||573||111,424 30||111,416 64||32,129 40||415 77|
|Total||573||$20,505 89||$20,503 31||$6,200 97||$80 24|
|Average||$35 78||$34 00||$10 82||$0 14|
If we add the amount of property taken with them and the amounts of the communal and cantonal “unterstützung” together, it gives us an average of $46.74 per head; if we deduct therefrom $35 as the average price of the journey to the port of debarkation in the United States, [Page 1098]we find that the Argovian emigrants land on our shores with an average of $11.74 per head with which to reach the interior, or to support themselves until they can obtain employment.
I invite your attention to the employment of the word “unterstützung,” “assistance.” Mr. Neiderer tells us it is leveled on the poor funds. I also invite your attention to the very small amount of this assistance, $10.82 per head from the communes, and 14 cents a head from the canton. It is advanced certainly on good security, as the emigrants leave behind $34.03 each for this assistance, amounting to $10.96. Is it strange that the government of Argovie is jealous of any action on the part of our consuls which might interfere with so profitable a transaction?
The same official report gives a detailed statement of the number of emigrants from the eleven districts into which Argovie is divided. Taking the number of persons domiciled in the canton on December 1, 1870 (198,718),* we find that, in 1879, 1 to every 553 emigrated, while in the district of Zofingen the ratio of emigration in 1879 was 1 to every 319 of those domiciled in that district. It was from the district of Zofingen that Abraham König, Jacob Werfeli, and Johann Fritz are reported by the New York Times of February 9, 1879 (and other newspapers), to have been sent to America by the authorities of their communes, at a cost of 150 francs apiece. Over 28 per cent, of the emigration from Argovie to North America in 1879 came from the district of Zofingen.
If this analysis of the assisted emigration from the canton of Argovie does not reduce it to the simple deportation of paupers by the communes of that canton, it shows sufficiently that the danger of such deportation is sufficiently imminent to warrant a rigid scrutiny of the emigrants arriving from that canton, and measures of precaution against their falling to the charge of the community in the United States.
I have above referred to the recent action of the town of Zug in voting 200 francs to each of its citizens who should emigrate to another quarter of the globe, and 40 francs to each child they take with them. It will be seen by a reference to the minutes of the town-meeting at which this decision was arrived at that the people of Zug had an eye to business in adopting it:
To parents who emigrate and leave their children behind, no advance will be made.
The payments will only be made to the licensed emigration agents for those members of the township who are forwarded to another continent, and then only when they prove by a duly authenticated certificate their shipment over the sea.
They shall receive the advance only upon the condition that they renounce all and every benefit of the municipality, until their shares of the revenue derived from the wood and meadows shall have reimbursed the amount advanced to them with 5 per cent, interest.
While we can but admire the prudence of the towns people in adopting this resolution, it certainly is a novelty as prescribing the method of a withdrawal of an individual from a joint-stock concern.
Should one of these assisted emigrants fall to the charity of any community in the United States, and should the latter request the town of Zug to support him, would not the answer be: “He has renounced all his communal benefits for a good and valid consideration”? Or it would depend on the price of wood at Zug, or the condition of the hay-crop in that neighborhood, whether the poor emigrant might look for support to those among whom he was raised, and who furnished him the means of exiting himself, but not his full share of the communal fortune.
Such is the picture of assisted emigration as it exists from this country, and I believe that the sooner it is stopped the better it will be for the emigrants, and the better it will be for the people of the United States. It will not be stopped either in Switzerland or in Europe so long as it offers, as it now does, great pecuniary advantages to the corporations on this side of the water. Congress alone can protect us from the evil, and to that end legislation is most urgently needed.
We cannot expect every vessel to bring us a Gallatin, an Agassiz, a Sutter, or a Portales, but we have a right to exact that no vessel shall bring us the Zimmermanns, or Senn, or Theodor Meier, or the “many Swiss emigrants” sent back by our commissioners of emigration.
Almost all our immigrants are brought on vessels belonging to foreign owners and flying foreign flags. The business, with the present tide of emigration, is a remunerative one, and the earnings of some foreign ship-owners derived from the carrying of emigrants is enormous. Should they not be required to support the objectionable emigrants they bring us? Were we to exact that of them, establish a rigid control at our ports to prevent the entry of unfit immigrants, and send them back with a heavy fine upon the vessel bringing them, and require every assisted emigrant to produce some such certificate as was suggested by Mr. Harrington, we would soon cause the objectionable emigrants to seek other ports than those of the United States; while those who evaded the vigilance of our port officials would do so at the cost of foreigners, who now are the gainers by the immigration of the objectionable emigrants.
Without legislation of this nature we are destined to receive an increased and increasing proportion of the objectionable classes. With such legislation, emigration and immigration would be free to all who are fit for the latter, and the “slavery” of the European communes would not be carried on at the expense of the people of the United States.
It is absurd for us to shut our eyes to the evils and abuses which exist in assisted emigration. The Swiss press does not claim that they have ceased to exist; the federal legislature is discussing a bill which, while not forbidding the communes to send the objectionable emigrants, forbids the licensed agents to forward them; and the Federal Council, in recommending this bill as recently as November 25, 1879, said:
Der artikel 10 enthält die Vorschriften, welche dem Abschieben jeder Art von hilflosen Leuten, wie es noch in neuerer zeit häufig vorgekommen sein soll, wirksam vorzu beugen trachten. (The tenth article contains the provisions necessary to prevent the shoving off of every sort of helpless persons, as has repeatedly happened in recent times.)
It is difficult to reconcile this statement with the theory advanced by some persons in the United States that such cases are of such very rare occurrence; it is impossible to reconcile it with the idea that they have [Page 1100]ceased. They will cease only when Congress shall adopt a sufficient protection against them.
We cannot expect that protection from Swiss legislation. In the very year that Columbus discovered America, a Swiss statesman declared that* “Die Schweizer müssen ein Loch haben.” (“The Swiss must have an outlet.”)
The necessity for an outlet for its population is far more urgent in Switzerland to-day, and every commune in the German-speaking cantons is jealous of any legislation that might possibly interfere with or obstruct the outlet which emigration affords. When we consider that the development of the organization of the commune is the fundamental basis of Swiss liberty, we cannot expect Swiss legislation to deal with the root of the evil, which lies in the action of the guilty communes.
I have, &c.,
- Rapport de l’Envoyé extraordinaire de la Confédération Suisse au Bresil, Mr. Tschudi, au conseil fédéral sur la situation des colons établis dans ce pays, 6 Octobre, 1860. Published in Feuille Fédérale, No. 61, December 4, 1860.↩
- Feuille Fédérale Suisse, 1873, I, page 173; id., III, pages 394 and 656.↩
- Federal Council to Mr. Rublee, December 11, 1873.↩
- Instructions No. 134, Mr. Fish to Mr. Rublee, January 23, 1874.↩
- This has since been somewhat modified by the Swiss law of July 3, 1876, concerning the acquisition and renunciation of Swiss citizenship. (See Foreign Relations, 1876, page 567.)↩
- Mouvement de la Population de la Suisse pendant l’année 1878. (Published by the Swiss Federal Department of the Interior, page xxiii.)↩
- The italics are mine.—N. F.↩
- Verwaltungs Bericht des Regierungsrathes des Kantons Schaffhausen an den Grossen Rathüber das Amtsjahr 1879, pages 39 and 40.↩
- Idem, page 104.↩
- See inclosure, “Extract from minutes of the town of Zug, September 12, 1880.”↩
- Foreign Relations, 1879, page 854.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1879, page 854.↩
- Verwaltungs bericht des Kantons Schaffhausen über das Amtsjahr 1879, page 8.↩
- Rechenschafts bericht des Regierungrathes uber die Staats Verwaltung des Kanton Argau in Jahre 1879, page 54.↩
- Idem., inclosure 11.↩
- This table is compiled from the annual report of the cantonal government of Argovie for 1879, above cited.↩
Since writing the above, the following statement concerning the population of the canton of Argovie has appeared in the Swiss press:
Census canton of Argovia.
Districts. 1880. 1870. Districts. 1880. 1870. Aargau 19,996 19,212 Lenzburg 18,283 18,482 Baden 24,119 23,373 Muri 14,351 14,280 Bremgarten 18,127 18,731 Rheinfelden 11,227 11,385 Brugg 17,231 17,160 Zofingen 27,415 26,990 Kuhn 19,826 20,798 Zurzach 13,329 13,895 Laufenburg 14,362 14,410 Total 198,266 198,718 Decrease 452
- Anshelm, Kronik II, 106. Daguet, Histoire de la Confederation Suisse, I. 382.↩