No. 681.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

No. 375.]

Sir: Referring to my Nos. 371,372, and 373, I have now the honor to inform you that I have received from Consul Mason, at Basle, an affidavit of Mr. Henry Hofacker, a native-born citizen of the United States, employed as clerk of the consulate at Basle, respecting the shipment of Fridolina Vögelin and Theresa Hauser to New York by the communal authorities at Böttstein, in the canton of Argovie, setting forth the circumstances of the shipment and the action of the communal council and agents engaged in this case of “assisted” emigration from the canton of Argovie.

Mr. Hofacker’s statements I fully believe, and have every reason to consider him a most trustworthy and truthful man. It appears from his affidavit that Frei, the emigration agent at Klingnau, stated that he knew of no insane girl having been recently transported to the United States from Böttstein.

It was owing to similar information sent me by Consul Mason (see inclosure 4 to my No. 372) that I added to my telegram: “Disregard 371.”

The fact that the investigation concerning the alleged shipment of the girl mentioned in the article in the Bund should reveal the shipment of two prostitutes from the same village (having but 420 inhabitants in [Page 1124] 1870) is a striking proof of the frequency of improper emigrants being assisted by the communes of that canton to emigrate to the United States, without the assistance of whom these emigrants could never reach New York. It will be remembered that a similar circumstance attended the case of Daniel Senn, an inmate of the poor-house at Basle, who was not sent owing to the opposition of the legation, where the New York officials found a woman on board of the steamer they searched who was described by the New York papers as combining the elements of pauperism, crime, and insanity, whose passage was paid by the authorities of her commune in the canton of Basle, and she was landed on our shores with the munificent sum of $2.83 as her share of the commune property, or, as the Federal Council expressed it in 1855, “as an indemnity for the non-enjoyment of their commune privileges.” Similar cases among the assisted emigration from this country are and have been of too frequent occurrence to make it desirable for the United States to longer extend to it “the distinction in favor of Swiss emigrants in the tide of emigration” requested for it by the Swiss Government in 1855. The present case shows that the Swiss tributaries of that tide contain elements of pollution and filth that no government should “distinguish” except by exclusion and condemnation.

If those women are landed in the United States, there will be hundreds of the same class who will follow in the same manner. If they are sent back, the announcement of their return would serve to check some of the latter from being forwarded. I therefore respectfully suggest that the legation should be informed by telegraph whether they are allowed to land at New York or whether, as in the case of the Danish convicts, they are sent back by the vessel bringing them.

I have requested Consul Mason to procure, if possible, the copies of the minutes of the town meeting at Böttstein at which their shipment was decided upon, of the “Transportbefehl” under which the police arrested them, and the affidavits or statements of other parties as to the character and antecedents of the women.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 375.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Mason.

Sir: I have received your telegram and letter of this date respecting the action of the commune of Böttstein, canton of Argovie, in sending to the United States Fridolina Vögelin and Theresa Hauser, notorious prostitutes. You recommend that the legation should telegraph to America to cause their detention until you can exhibit the facts, which you expect to develop by a thorough investigation in detail. I am desirous of telegraphing to the Department of State respecting this case and that one mentioned in “Der Bund” of Sunday; but as the Sue via will not reach New York until Saturday or Sunday, and to have more ample grounds for my action, I beg you to hasten your investigation and to report the result thereof to the legation and to the Department of State. Should the same warrant my so doing, I shall be happy to meet your wishes as to telegraphing.

If the girl mentioned in the Bund is on the Suevia also, it will economize expense to include all three in one telegram.

I am, &c.,

[Page 1125]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 375.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Mason.

Sir: Upon receipt of your unofficial letter of yesterday, inclosing the press copy of your No. 31 to the Department of State, and based on the information therein contained, I telegraphed to the Secretary of State respecting the shipment of the two prostitutes by the communal council of Böttstein, to New York. I have also informed this government of the shipment.

Time being essential to successful action to secure the detention of the women, I sent my telegram without delaying for more ample evidence to sustain the complaint. You will see the necessity of furnishing such evidence as promptly as possible. In a previous, similar case I succeeded in procuring copies of the minutes, or protocol of proceedings of the commune council, and of a declaration from a police officer who had returned the objectionable emigrant in the manner you describe to have been pursued with reference to these women. I therefore telegraphed you this morning as follows:

“Can you obtain copy of minutes of meeting at which sending was decided; also, transportbefehl of police or the testimony of police of the neighboring communes or cantons? Report what you get. Let your clerk make affidavit.”

In the absence of the certified copies of the protocols or transportbefehl obtain the testimony of credible witnesses as to the character of the women, their antecedents, and have the same attested by some Swiss notary or other competent official; legalize his signature, and send the documents thus authenticated to the legation.

Mr. Hofacker should embody his statement in an affidavit, and, if an American citizen, he should swear to the same before you.

I recommend your acting with dispatch in this matter, as my complaint to this government may disincline the local authorities to furnish any evidence that would sustain our complaint.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 375.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Mason.

Sir: The inclosed affidavits should be executed as originals by Mr. Hofacker before you, to go as inclosures in two letters which I shall send you by next train as “express letter,” which I will thank you to mail as soon after receipt as possible. Ascertain the date of meeting at which the sending was decided; obtain, if possible, copy of minutes and of transportbefehl; a statement of some of the police who returned them, and such testimony as you are able to get.

I am, &c.,