No. 673.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Evarts.

No. 335.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatches numbered 330,* 331, and 332,* I have now the honor to inclose herewith copies of a correspondence with the consulate at Zurich respecting the emigration of Heinrich Ruegger, of Rudolfingen, from this country to the United States.

It will be seen from the letter of the president of the commissioners of the poor of Trüllikon, that the man obtained a considerable portion of the money for his journey by begging 5 that until he had done so, the poor-board declined to assist him 5 that finally they gave him 25 francs [Page 1114] and the commune gave 10 francs; and that just before leaving, Ruegger, who is spoken of as a dissolute fellow, squandered the small amount of money he had in drinking saloons. It will also be seen that the poor-board do not consider this a case “of shoving off by the commune.” This opinion is not shared by either Consul Byers or Consul Mason, the latter of whom sums up the case as follows:

It seems to be a clear case of “assisted emigration,” the result of which is that the State of Ohio has acquired a pauper.

It seems incredible that our legislation should not protect us from such abuses, and in the absence of such legislation, I most strongly recommend that the man be sent back to Rudolfingen at the expense of the Swiss Government, and that the legation be instructed to demand the payment of a sum for the injury done the United States by the authorities of Rudolfingen.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 335.]

Mr. Byers to Mr. Fish.

Sir: Referring to yours of the 15th instant, asking me to investigate the case of Henry Ruegger, an emigrant to the United States, reported to have been sent there by the authorities of his native commune, Rudolfingen, canton Zurich, I beg to state as follows:

My letter to the authorities of the commune was, on the 24th instant, answered by the president of the poor commission, and the answer is herewith inclosed. By this letter it is shown that after H. Ruegger had raised a small amount of money from relatives to aid him to go to the United States, the poor commission resolved, at request of Heinrich Ruegger, to give him 25 francs additional. His “commune” of Rudolfingen gave him 10 francs. Private individuals had given him 70 francs. Altogether, Ruegger was equipped with 190 francs, which the president of the poor commission sent to Schneebeli & Co., in Basle, with the request to forward H. Ruegger to New York, he to have an order for some 25 francs, or $4.80, remaining after paying passage contract.

The president of the poor commission does not enlighten me any as to the physical condition of Ruegger. He only intimates that he was a worthless fellow, spending at the last moment in saloons, a part of the money he had begged from relatives and acquaintances to help him off for America. The president of the poor commission apparently sees nothing amiss in aiding this man out of the commune and off to the United States. The secretary of the commune, to whom my letter was addressed, did not reply to it at ah, but turned it over to the poor commission, although, as noticed, the commune itself did aid the man to leave, and without any consideration, unless getting rid of him was such consideration. I do not see that the case is bettered much by the fact that Ruegger begged the money three times of the poor commission before they concluded to aid in getting rid of him. The fact remains that a worthless (and reported half-blind) pauper was helped to emigrate to the United States by the authorities of his commune, and that he was landed there with a mere trifle of money in his possession, and is to-day in an American poor-house in the State of Ohio.

The official letter of Consul Mason, at Basle, also inclosed, shows that the passage contract with Schneebeli & Co., in Basle, was about as stated by the president of the poor commission, except that Ruegger must have had even less than $4.80 on landing.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 335.]

Mr. Mason to Mr. Byers.

Sir: I am in receipt of a letter from the United States legation at Berne, inclosing a copy of the Auswanderungs Zeitung, and instructing me to make certain investigations [Page 1115] concerning an alleged case of assisted emigration therein reported as having been negotiated with an emigration agency in this city.

Presuming that the same newspaper report has been forwarded to you, I have the honor to report, without further explanation, that in July last the president of the commune of Rudolfingen, canton Zurich, made a contract with Messrs. Schneebeli & Co., emigration agents of Basle, to transport to the United States one Heinrich Ruegger, a citizen of Rudolfingen. For this service Messrs. Schneebeli & Co. were paid 188 francs, which sum had been collected as follows:

From Ruegger’s mother 60
From Ruegger’s sister 30
Voluntary contributions by neighbors at Rudolfingen 63
From the commune of Rudolfingen 10
From the poor-house fund 25
Total 188

This sum was paid to Schneebeli & Co., who gave to Heinrich Ruegger—

Cash 10
Passage to New York 160
Money-order on Wahrenberg, New York 20
Total 190

And thus equipped, this “assisted emigrant” was shipped to the United States. He is reported to be nearly blind and to be in a poor-house at Ottokee, Ohio, having broken his foot while at work digging a sewer. It seems to be a clear case of “assisted emigration,” the result of which is that the State of Ohio has acquired a pauper.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 335. Translation.]

The president of the commissioners of the poor at Trüllikon to Mr. Byers.

Sir: Having been requested by the worthy town-chancery of Trüllikon to answer your valued communication of the 19th instant, because the town council had nothing whatever to do with the matter in question, I will give you a true statement concerning the emigrant, Heinrich Ruegger, of Rudolfingen, Trüllikon.

I beg to remark that immediately upon the appearance of newspaper article in No. 3 of the Swiss Emigration Gazette, I sent to the paper a correction of the statement of facts, but I do not yet know whether it has appeared in the newspaper or not.

In the first place it should be stated (see the two inclosed documents) that the idea of emigrating came first from H. Ruegger himself. Concerning the whole affair, please to take notice of the following extracts from the minutes of the poor-board of Trüllikon:

Meeting of 11th of April, 1880.

“Heinrich Ruegger, peddler, of Rudolfingen, applies in writing requesting the poor-board to help him to emigrate to America. The authorities decide to reject the application. The petitioner being in good health and able to work, should certainly be able to earn the necessary money for the journey himself; after he shall have made strenuous endeavors with that view, the poor-board might, perhaps, decide to furnish him with a small sum.”

Sitting of May 14, 1880.

“Heinrich Ruegger again applies to the poor-board with the request that they should grant him an allowance of 25 francs for the purpose of emigrating to America. The remaining money for the journey he will soon have collected by means of voluntary contributions.

“After the board had received more definite information concerning the circumstances of the petitioner from members from Rudolfingen, upon motion of Mr. Zuber, a definite refusal was decided upon.

Sitting of June 6, 1880.

“Heinrich Ruegger, under date of 29th of May, presents a third petition concerning the granting of a sum of 25 francs on account of his emigration. In a more just consideration of the circumstances, it was determined to grant the request.”

[Page 1116]

Therefore the poor-fund furnished 25 francs, the corporation of Rudolfingen gave 10 francs, about 70 francs were voluntary contributions from private individuals among whom R— went for this purpose. He received 90 francs from his relatives. How much he may have collected in addition we are unable to say. I sent to the emigrant agent the sum of 190 francs, begging him to take care of the matter, and I gave him the order to pay the 35 francs over the price agreed upon, in a sight-draft on New York to R—; but I had afterwards, at R—’s request, to beg Messrs. Schneebeli to give 10 francs as pocket-money, because R—, in his customary manner, a few days before his departure, squandered the greater portion of the money for his journey in his possession in drinking saloons.

Believing that I have complied with your wishes, I hope that you will be convinced that in this case there is no question of a “shoving off” by the commune. I inclose two of the documents referred to herewith.* I beg you kindly to return them.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 4 in No. 335.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Byers.

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 22d instant, inclosing a communication from the authorities of Gersau, and a copy of the ordinance of that town respecting assisted emigration from that place to the United States, and to thank you for your prompt and successful endeavors to obtain the same.

I wish you would thank the authorities for furnishing you the information, and ask them if possible to furnish you with a list of the names and ages of the 29 emigrants so assisted.

I have also to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 25th instant, transmitting the copy of the reply of the commissioner of the poor of Rudolfingen, canton of Zurich, in reference to the assisted emigrant Heinrich Ruegger, now in the poor-house at Ottokee, Ohio.

Your prompt and energetic action in both these cases merits not only my thanks but commendation for the efficient and able manner in which you have carried out the wishes of the legation.

I am, &c.,

  1. Printed in Senate Ex. Doc. No. 62, Forty-sixth Congress, third session.
  2. Printed in Senate Ex. Doc. No. 62, Forty-sixth Congress, third session.
  3. These documents were not inclosed in the letter of Consul Byers to the legation. It is presumed they are unimportant.