No. 684.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

[Extract.]
No. 383.]

Sir: Referring to my Nos. 372, 373, 375, 376, 377, and 378, I have now the honor to inclose herewith copies of two notes which I have addressed to this government respecting the action of the commune of Böttstein in sending Fridolina Vögelin and Theresa Hauser, notorious prostitutes, to the United States.

In the first of these, dated and sent on the 29th instant, I informed the Federal Council of the arrival of the Suevia at New York on the 28th instant, and renewed the expression of the hope that they will cause the women to be returned as promptly as possible, and that in future similar action on the part of the local authorities in this country may be prevented.

As I had not heard from the Federal Council in answer to my note of the 23d instant, and I desire to give both the federal and cantonal authorities every opportunity to effect the return of the women by the Suevia, if possible, I suggested to Consul Mason to enter a formal and forcible protest with the cantonal governments of Argovie and Basle against the shipment of the women, and sent him drafts of notes to be addressed to those governments. In the one to Argovie the complaint was set forth in the body of the note, and the consul—

Forcibly protested against the unfriendly, unpardonable, and outrageous action of the authorities of Böttstein in sending to the United States these notorious prostitutes, who, if permitted to land, must without fail increase the number of prostitutes there, or, in their destitute condition, become a burden to the public charity there. It is solely by reason of the assistance furnished by the commune that they were able to reach the United States.

The undersigned therefore entertains the hope that the high cantonal government will take immediate measures, by cable, to prevent these women from longer polluting the soil of the United States by their presence, in case they should have eluded the vigilance of the authorities of the United States. He also entertains the confident [Page 1129]hope that the parties guilty of this infringement of the comity existing between Switzerland and the United States, and of the laws of both countries, may be severely and promptly punished.

Accompanying the note were copies or English translations of all the inclosures accompanying Mr. Mason’s No. 32 to the department, as specified in my No. 377.

In his protest to the government of Basle Ville, he transmits the same inclosures as in his note to Argovie, and in addition to the protest he says—

He confidently hopes that the high government of Basle Ville will at once co-operate with that of Argovie in effecting the return of these women, and that it will severely punish the guilty parties concerned therein who may be within its jurisdiction. The undersigned likewise hopes that efficient measures may be promptly taken to prevent in the future any objectionable emigrants being forwarded from Basle to the United States.

These notes of Consul Mason were sent to-day, marked “to be de-delivered immediately”, the one to Basle should have been in the hands of the government before 5.30 this p.m.; and the one to Argovie should be delivered to it in Aaran not later than 8 p.m.; which, by New York time would be before 2 p.m. of this Thursday. The latest New York papers announce the Suevia as sailing on Saturday, April 2. There is, therefore, ample time for the government of Argovie to cable to New York to secure the return of the women by the Suevia, if they have not already done so, in case they desire to repair the damage done the United States.

My note of this date was delivered at the federal palace at 6 p.m., and was marked on the envelope “Cito! très-pressé!” and the messenger who took it was directed to say that it should be delivered at once to the President, or, in his absence, to the vice-president of the Confederation. In my note I carefully avoided characterizing the action of the Böttstein officials in the language of the Consular Regulations (§ 286), owing to their exception to my so doing in Zimmermann’s (Trasadingen) case. I, however, felt it incumbent on me to state:

It is unnecessary for the undersigned to designate the unpardonable action of the commune council by the language which it merits. The views of the Government of the United States concerning this and shipments of a similar nature are sufficiently well known to the High Federal Council.

(See Secretary of State to Mr. Rublee, Nos. 114, 127, and 134, and Mr. Rublee’s Nos. 142, 149, and 155, and my Nos. 180, 181, and 261.)

I have protested “against this unfriendly action of a Swiss commune towards the United States,” and express the hope

That the High Federal Council will at once take measures that these women may be immediately removed from the soil of the United States, which is now polluted by their presence, unless the vigilance of American officials shall have prevented them from landing. Their return by the vessel bringing them would have a salutary effect in deterring other communes from committing similar offenses, and is greatly to be desired.

* * * * * * *

If the measures of the legation and consulate at Basle in this case are unsuccessful in securing the return of these women, it will, in my opinion, be useless hereafter for them to try to carry out §§ 241 and 286 of the Consular Regulations, and I respectfully recommend in the interest of economy, both of labor, time, and money, that they should be instructed to take no further measures to execute these paragraphs of the Regulations.

I respectfully and urgently request your approval of the action of the legation and the consulate at Basle in this case. The position of the [Page 1130]Swiss Government in previous cases of a like nature renders it important that our action should be sustained promptly and strongly, or that it should be disapproved. In the latter case I ask that the disapproval may entirely rest on my shoulders as being the party responsible for and dictating the action of the consulate.

I have, &c.,

NICHOLAS FISH.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 383.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Droz.

The undersigned, chargé d’affaires of the United States of America, has the honor, referring to his note of March 23, 1881, respecting the shipment of Fridolina Vögelin and Theresa Hauser, notorious and depraved prostitutes, whose journey was paid to New York by their native commune of Böttstein, canton Argovie, to inform his excellency Mr. Droz, President of the Swiss Confederation and the High Federal Council, that the steamship Suevia arrived yesterday at New York.

The undersigned renews the expression of the hope that the High Federal Council will cause these women to be returned to Switzerland as promptly as possible, and that in future similar action on the part of the local authorities in this country may be prevented.

The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to renew to his excellency Mr. Droz, President of the Swiss Confederation, and to the High Federal Council, the assurances of his most distinguished consideration.

NICHOLAS FISH.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 383.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Droz.

The undersigned, chargé d’affaires of the United States of America, has the honor, referring to his notes of March 23 and 29, 1881, to inclose herewith to Mr. Droz, President of the Swiss Confederation, copies or English translations of the documentary evidence of the charge contained in the aforesaid notes against the commune of Böttstein, canton of Argovie, of having assisted to emigrate to the United States two notorious and depraved prostitutes, Fridolina Vögelin and Theresa Hauser, earning their living by their shameless calling.

The undersigned regrets his inability to furnish the High Federal Council with the German text of all these documents, but this omission, so far as it relates to the extracts from the register of proceedings of the commune council of Böttstein, and from that of the church council of Leuggen, can doubtless be obtained at those places, the reference to the volume and page of those registers being in each case given. Should the High Federal Council desire it, the undersigned, will be happy to ask his government to furnish authenticated copies of the originals of the remaining documents.

The inclosed documents furnish an unbroken and unbreakable chain of unimpeachable evidence as to the action of the commune council in forwarding these vagrant and abandoned women to the United States. It is unnecessary for the undersigned to designate the unpardonable action of the commune council by the language which it merits. The views of the Government of the United States concerning this and shipments of a similar nature are sufficiently well known to the High Federal Council. It suffices for the present that the undersigned, in bringing the proof of the guilt of the commune and their unblushing admission of the same to the notice of the High Federal Council, should, on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, forcibly protest against this unfriendly action of a Swiss commune towards the United States, and express the hope that the High Federal Council will at once take measures that these women may be immediately removed from the soil of the United States, which is now polluted by their presence, unless the vigilance of American officials shall have prevented them from landing. Their return by the vessel bringing them would have a salutary effect in deterring other commanes from committing similar offenses, and is greatly to be desired.

The undersigned, while reserving to his government the further discussion of this [Page 1131]question, avails himself of this occasion to renew to his excellency Mr. Droz, President of the Swiss Confederation, and to the High Federal Council, the assurances of his most distinguished consideration.

NICHOLAS FISH.