to Mr. Blaine.
Berne, April 16, 1881. (Received April 30.)
Sir: Referring to my Nos. 372, 373, 375, 376, 377, 383, 384, 385, 386, and 387, I have now the honor to inclose herewith copies and translations of the correspondence between the consul at Basle and the cantonal governments of Argovie and Basle Ville respecting the shipment of prostitutes from Böttstein to the United States.
The cantonal government of Argovie state that they had heard of the case about the middle of last month and ordered an examination; that the result of the examination confirmed the statements made by the consul, but that unfortunately they were only able to intervene at a time when the women had already been sent off. They disavow all responsibility for the action of the commune, whom they claim is alone responsible. They say that according to a telegram they had received from the federal department of commerce and agriculture of April 1, it appeared that the two women would probably be sent back on the same ship on the 2d instant, and that they have not felt themselves bound to take any steps to prevent their being sent back. They express regret at the circumstances of the present case, and say that they will do their best to prevent a recurrence thereof.
An examination of the note shows that they may have had knowledge of the case before the women left Havre (March 16); it certainly shows that, although they knew of the case before the consulate, they took no means whatever to secure the return of the women, and that when requested to do so by the consul they paid no attention to his request. I can but believe that had we not effected the return of the women the case would not have been heard of, and that the failure to endeavor to obtain their return was due to a desire that they should be saddled upon the American tax-payers rather than on those of their native Argovie.
The reply of the cantonal government of Basle Ville states that, the original contract having been made outside of their jurisdiction, they consider Rudolf Werdenberg free from responsibility, and that the question concerns only the Argovie government.
Such is the result of Mr. Mason’s protests. Up to to-day the legation has received no intimation from the Federal Council as to the result of its investigation beyond that mentioned in my No. 384.
In the New York Tribune of the 29th ultimo is an account of the arrival of the women at New York, from which it appears that on the same day there were landed at New York 111 destitute persons, of whom 45 had sufficient means to reach their destination, and that the remaining 66 had to be supported by American charity, and that these people all came from a village in Baden, whose authorities enabled them to emigrate.
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The Swiss press has very generally commented on the Böttstein case, and I am happy to say that, as far as their comments have come under my notice, they have, with the exception of the Journal de Genève (reported in my No. 387), unanimously condemned the procedure of the commune council. I inclose you a file of extracts from the Swiss papers with translations thereof.[Page 1136]
The first and third of these are from the Nouvelliste Vaudois, published at Lausanne, which is generally supposed to be the organ of Mr. Ruchounet, the chief of the federal department of commerce and agriculture. They furnish us with a sad picture of some of the causes which give rise to the abnormal exodus from this country to the United States. The latter of these two articles refers to the Baden correspondence of the Bund, which I sent you in my No. 386. The Bund, if not the official organ of the federal government, may certainly be deemed the officious organ, in which its inspirations are generally first given to the press. The general sentiment of the press is that the guilty commune should be made to pay for the return of the women.
I trust that the Department will sustain the views of the Swiss press on this point, and insist upon the payment of the costs by the commune.
I have, &c.,