No. 679.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

No. 372.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 371, I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of a correspondence with the consulate at Basle, respecting the shipment to the United States, by the commune of Böttstein, canton of Argovie, of two notorious prostitutes, Fridolina Vögelin, aged seventeen, and Theresa Hauser, for the purpose of getting rid of two shameless and burthensome characters.

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As the Suevia will not be due at New York until the end of this week, I defer following Consul Mason’s suggestion of telegraphing you in regard to this shipment until I can ascertain whether the case reported in the Bund was well founded, and whether the person therein referred to is on board the Suevia. The delay will also enable the consul to furnish more ample details respecting the shipment of the two women above named.

I have the firm belief that the return of these women at the cost of the commune sending them would prove the most effectual method of stopping the tendency of the communes of the canton of Argovie to get rid of their worthless and helpless citizens at the expense of the taxpayers of the United States.

The employment of a detective at Basle would, in my opinion, reveal the fact that hardly a ship-load of emigrants is forwarded by the emigration agencies of that city that has not a number of emigrants who, being public burdens or objectionable characters over here, are furnished the means of emigrating to the United States by those whose duty it is to support or take charge of them here. The cost of employing a detective for this purpose would be more than repaid to the United States, in the prevention of the increase of our public burdens, which assisted emigration from the canton of Argovie now creates. I most strongly recommend such a course, if we wish to break up this long-continued and. I fear, increasing abuse.

A couple of thousand dollars properly employed in detecting such cases, and the prompt return of the objectionable emigrants, would, I believe, teach the communes that the business was not a profitable one, and such an appeal to their pockets is the only one they are likely to heed. It is more than probable that a similar investigation at the other centers of emigration in Europe would disclose similar cases, but I doubt whether in such proportions as at Basle.

I shall await further information from Consul Mason before bringing these cases to the notice of the Swiss Government, as the delay will not materially affect the complaint, and it is now too late for any action of the Federal Council to prevent the emigrants from sailing. Moreover, there is but little to be gained by discussion of the question, in view of the manner in which previous similar complaints have been dealt with by this government. I shall consider carefully the expediency of such a complaint and be guided by the developments of Consul Mason’s report.

I have sent by this mail copies of the inclosed correspondence to the collector of the port of New York.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 372.]

Mr. Mason to Mr. Fish.

Sir: Referring to yours of March 20, inclosing a statement from the Bund newspaper reporting an alleged violation of the emigration laws, I have the honor to report that I have instituted a careful investigation of the case and have progressed so far as to be able to state that on the 16th of March there embarked at Havre, on board the Hamburg steamer Suevia, two notorious and depraved prostitutes from Böttstein, Canton Argovie, Switzerland. Their names are Fridolina Vögelin, aged seventeen, and Theresa Hauser, somewhat older. They were sent away to America by the commune of Böttstein to get rid of two shameless and burthensome characters.

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There is a long story of the negotiations of the communal authorities with various emigration agencies, which I have not yet thoroughly investigated, but when I have done so I shall report the case in detail to the Department.

Meanwhile I venture to hope that your legation will consider these facts sufficient to warrant it in telegraphing to the American authorities to detain the parties until the facts can be exhibited.

It seems to be a case of wilful and flagrant violation not only of the Swiss emigration law, but of the comity of nations.

I have, &c.,