No. 690.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

No. 392.]

Sir: I have so frequently dwelt upon the temptations afforded the communes of this and other European countries to get rid of their paupers at the expense of the people of the United States, that I deem it proper to bring to your notice another powerful cause contributing to that abuse, namely, the activity and machinations of unscrupulous emigrant agents.

The increased emigration has given rise to several newspapers being entirely devoted to the question. Among them is the Helvetia, published weekly, as a supplement to the Schweizer Handels-Courier of Bienne, Canton Berne.

In the number of April 10 appears an appeal for aid from the Emigration and Colonization Society of Basle, of which I inclose a copy and translation. It is a carefully drawn and plausible request for assistance to enable those to emigrate who now have to be helped by public charity at home. In the same paper there appears as a regular advertisement an announcement of an emigrant agency at Neuchatel offering “special arrangements for persons without means.” I say that it appears as a regular advertisement; it appears in Nos. 13, 14, 15, and 16, of Helvetia. It is in a measure owing to the activity of such people as those composing the Emigration and Colonization Society of Basle and the “Bureau Maritime” at Neuchatel that the emigration of paupers and other unfit emigrants is rendered easy. It is worthy of re mark that the papers of the “Helvetia” class are silent on the Böttstein case, and refrain from referring to it.

The advertisement in the Helvetia is similar in tenor to one appearing at intervals in the Intelligence Blatt of this city in 1879, from another agent whose terms were slightly different, but who likewise offered “special arrangements for persons without means.” The latter advertisement no longer appears. Whether its disappearance is due to the fact that the business no longer requires advertising or to the intervention of the authorities I am unable to say, but according to the Intelligence Blatt of February 13, last, the agent inserting it was punished for a violation of the cantonal regulation concerning emigration. The punishment inflicted does not appear to deter others from inserting advertisements of a like nature.

I inclose a copy and translation of the advertisement appearing in the Helvetia.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 392.—Extract from Helvetia, Bienne, April 10, 1881.—Translation.]

No. 15.

Helvetia.—Organ for the interests of Swiss emigrants and for the Swiss foreign countries. Weekly, free. Supplement to the Schweizer Handels-Courier.

Bienne, Sunday, April 10, 1881. (From the public, i. e., communicated.)

an appeal for assistance in behalf of the emigration and colonization society of basle.

For a number of years a crisis has prevailed in the manufacturing and trade circles, which becomes more aggravated each year, and, in the opinion of those competent to [Page 1142]judge, does not lead us to hope for its speedy termination; on the contrary, in view of the increased tariffs by which we are surrounded, we must look for still worse times. While employment is constantly on the decrease, not only is the number of inhabitants constantly on the increase in our country, but the excess of population in certain districts has attained such proportions that it produces consequences which cannot be permanently borne.

The poorest portion of our people in many places is in a truly pitiful condition. Thousands who would gladly work no longer find employment. Whole bands of able-bodied men, on this account, tramp from place to place, and numerous families fall to the charge of the public assistance. Many who cannot consent to beg lay their hesitating hand upon their own life; many, in their distress, seize upon their neighbors’ property, and thus add to the overcrowding of our prisons; and many more sit in the midst of their families and sorrowfully contemplate their dismal future.

This all results from the fact that in the labor market the supply far exceeds the demand, and unprecedented competition continually lowers the price of wages.

True, much is done, as we readily admit, to alleviate the existing distress in our country, and especially in this city. But we consider that the customary method of assistance, though well meant, in many cases, yes, even in most, is not the roper one. By great or small gifts a hungry family is only helped for a short space of time, apart from the fact that the acceptance of assistance undermines their self-respect and confidence in their own force. In fact, the working man can only be properly helped by furnishing him with remunerative labor. Were it possible to furnish every laborer in the old country with sufficient employment so indeed would it be best. But if a country is no longer in a condition to furnish work and bread to all her sons, then it is demonstrated from the nature of the circumstances that a portion of the unemployed workmen should emigrate to a land where his work will be remunerated. Very many families in our country have to be assisted by charity, solely because there is no work for them. If these people are able to emigrate to the country which suits them, they not only better their own lot, but indirectly benefit the workingmen whom they leave behind by decreasing the great competition among the latter.

Entertaining such views, and with the belief that each one should as far as possible help himself, in the summer of 1880 a number of workmen united themselves together as an emigration society. Each member pays a monthly sum of 60 centimes (12 cents) into the treasury. With the money thus received the emigration of some of the members and their families to some of the colonies to be founded in the United States should be rendered possible. Unfortunately, the number of subscriptions paid is insignificant, so that we must wait a long while before attaining our object. We therefore, in the first place, appeal to our fellow-citizens among the working classes to become members of our association. When many feeble forces unite together they may finally become powerful. We address our appeal for assistance also to the public, who are well-disposed towards the working classes. If such persons as do not themselves desire to emigrate would become members of our association, they might by their counsel and contributions greatly aid our endeavors.

We believe that the undertaking that we have as an object recommends itself to every one who reflects upon our condition, and therefore hope that our appeal will call forth many friends and well-wishers. Applications for admission into our association will be received by the undersigned, who will willingly furnish further information.

Basle, March 24, 1881.

In the name of the Emigration and Colonization Association, Basle.

The President,
J. H. RUEGG, Hammerstr., 108.

The Secretary,
[Inclosure 2 in No. 392.]

Bureau Maritime, rue Pury 6, Neuchatel.

Only 133 francs emigrants pay at our office for the journey from Havre to New York, everything included, by the French mail steamers, and only 132 francs by the English mail steamers. Special arrangements for persons without means.

Bureau Maritime, rue Pury 6, Neuchatel.