No. 692.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

No. 397.]

Sir: On the 12th of September, 1879, as I was leaving my residence with the Hon. George M. Robeson, formerly Secretary of the Navy, I was stopped as we were about getting into the cab, which was at the gate, by a man, who presented me a petition, stating that he desired to go to the United States, and was endeavoring to collect the money by subscription for that purpose. He produced the impression of a man of about thirty years of age, able-bodied, but somewhat the worse from the effects of drink. I had not time then to examine the petition closely, and confined myself to an abrupt refusal, and telling him that there was no demand for such immigrants as he. I noted, however, his name, as given in the petition. The cab-driver told me that he knew the man, whose name was Benedict Eberhard, of Münchenbuchsee (canton Berne), and that he had frequently been imprisoned. In my hurried examination of the list of subscribers I recognized that of one of my colleagues.

Subsequent inquiry of the police confirmed the statement of the cab-driver.

The numerous complaints of improper emigration from this country to the United States, and the open admission of the president of the poor-board of Rudolfingen that Ruegger was prompted by that board to beg for the means which enabled him to reach an Ohio poor-house, prompted me to further investigate the case of Eberhard.

I have in my possession the original petition presented to me by him on the 12th September, 1870, which I have caused to be authenticated by the competent authorities of the canton, and their signature is authenticated [Page 1144] by the Swiss Federal Chancery. It should not be supposed that the authentication was given at the time Eberhard went about begging with the petition; they have been since added to establish the authenticity of the signature of the notary who drew up the document, and who recommends Eberhard to the charitable consideration of his fellow citizens.

The notary, who was at that time the town clerk, was of opinion that it would be a piece of good luck for Eberhard’s native place (München-buchsee), as well as that of his present domicile (Zollikofen), could he find the means of emigrating. The list shows that this opinion was shared by a large number of his fellow townsmen and neighbors, and that the burgess of the former place, who would be compelled to contribute towards the support of himself and family in case of their falling into distress, as well as the cashier of the poor fund at Zollikofen, shared this opinion. The burgess subscribed for 100 francs, and the poor-fund at Zollikofen subscribed for 40 francs. There certainly was good reason for their opinion, for at the time it was given Eberhard had been convicted five times for theft, and had been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, amounting in the aggregate to over 3 years and 3 months.

It may be an interesting subject of inquiry to the citizens of Joliet, Ill., to ascertain in what manner he would have benefited their community had the emigration been effected. Fortunately for them the ob-tuseness of Eberhard in distinguishing between meum and tuum prevented its accomplishment, as on the 25th of October, 1879, he was sentenced to four months imprisonment in the (to him, familiar) house of correction for theft, and on the graver charge of dangerously threatening life. He has since been punished for participation in robbing a wood-pile.

The action of the burgess of Münchenbuchsee, of the poor board of Zollikofen, and the fact that the man was permitted to go begging from door to door with the sanction of the authorities to whom his vicious and even dangerous character was known, coupled with the detection of other similar cases, tend to discredit the claim of the Journal de Genéve, that “the immigration of which America has reason to complain has never been erected into a system in Switzerland.”

I submit the circumstances of the present case to your consideration, and leave it for your judgment to determine whether this attempt to make a reformatory of Joliet, Ill., on the part of Swiss communal officials calls for a remonstrance on the part of this legation.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 397.—Translation.]

Begging petition of Benedict Eberhard to obtain means to emigrate to Joliet, Ill., August 20, 1879.


The undersigned, Benedict Eberhard, of Münchenbuchsee, a rope maker, living at Zöllikofen, husband of Maria, born Lehmann, has decided to emigrate with his family (consisting of his wife, three children, one of whom was born in wedlock, by his wife, and one child in expectation), to Joliet, in the State of Illinois, in North America. He has well-founded prospects to get on better in the world over there than here.

He has, however, for this purpose too little money unless he should reach the place of destination entirely without means, or should even fail to reach it. Now the journey thither costs, according to the estimate of the emigrant agent, Mr. Tanner, in Berne, 638 francs. The communes of ZoUikofen and Münchenbuchsee it is hoped will contribute, [Page 1145] but in any case that would not be more than sufficient for the family Eberhard to reach their destination, and there would remain nothing over to enable them to establish themselves in Joliet.

Under these circumstances Eberhard appeals to the generosity and charity of his fellow-townsmen in Zöllikofen and in Münchenbuchsee, and expects from them voluntary contributions for the contemplated emigration; he believes that his design will meet with approbation on all sides and opposition from none.

The intending emigrant.

The undersigned deems that the above-mentioned Bened. Eberhard really has the intention of emigrating to America, and that it would be a matter of good luck for his family as well as for his native commune and that of his present domicile, could the emigration be effected.

Upon this supposition, the undersigned promises the hereafter stated contribution towards the expenses of the journey, upon the condition that the same shall be collected by an official of the commune of Münchenbuchsee, or of Zollikofen, and handed to the emigration agent, or sent to America after Eberhard.

Whosoever will contribute under the condition to aid the petitioner is requested to enter the amount opposite his signature on the list below.

Notary, Town Clerk.

For the genuineness of the foregoing signature

Berne, April 19, 1881.

In the name of the cantonal chancery of the canton of Berne.

The secretary of the chancery.


No. 2,530. 6.60.

Seal of the Staats Canzlei of the republic of Berne, [l. s.]

[Tax stamp, 30 rapp.]

No. 1408, franc 1.

Seen for authentication.

Berne, the 19th April, 1881.

Swiss federal chancery.


Seal of the federal chancery of the Swiss confederation, [l. s.]

[Names and remarks in brackets are erased in the original.]

[Page 1146]
Signatures of the honorable donors. Residences. Amount. Remarks.
1 Friedr. Häberli, notary Munchenbuchsee 5.00 Five francs.
2 [Dr. Uhlmann] Nicht erhalten 5.00 Five francs.
3 [legerlehner] Angelsee 5.00 Five francs.
4 [Illegible]. Reichenbach 5.00 Five francs.
5 [Ulrich Bärtschi] Zollikofen 5.00 Five francs.
6 [D.F. Mutter] Hofwyl 5.00 Five francs.
7 [A. J. Anderson] V. Fellenburg Inst. Hofwyl 5.00 Five francs.
8 Nik Schnell Carier Munchenbuchsee, not received. 10.00 Ten francs.
9 Dr. Glaser Munchenbuchsee, not received. 5.00 Five francs.
10 [Fran Straub] do 3.00 Three francs.
11 [E. Martig Pastor] do 1.00 One franc.
12 [Chr. Kupfer] do 1.00 One franc.
13 [Gottl. Häberli] do 4.00 Received 4.
14 [Ed. Balsiger] Not recevied 2.00 Two francs.
15 [Rügg] do 4.00 Four francs.
16 [Chrs. Häberli] do 5.00 Five francs.
17 [Rudolf Buri] do 5.00 Five francs.
18 The Burgess of Munchenbuchsee, per Schadli, President. 100.00 Hundred francs.
20 [Joh Kobi] Munchenbuchsee 3.00 Three francs.
21 [Ed. Laughaus] do 5.00 Five francs.
22 [Jacob Käch] do 2.00 [Two francs.]
23 Christian Häberli Not received 3.00 Three francs.
24 [Fr. Hofer]. 2.00 Two francs.
25 B. Schnell, at the sand pit Not received. 2.00 Two francs.
26 [Jacob Castli] Not received. 3.00 Three francs.
27 Illegible 1.00 [Franken.]
28 R. Moser, at Buhlikofen Note received 5.00 Five francs.
29 [Peter Burkhalter]. Not received 3.00 Three francs.
30 R. Moser, jgr Not received, two francs 2.00 Nikl Fahin.
31 Rudolf Moser, jgr One franc 1.00 Not received.
32 The Poor Fund Zolliskofen cashier Nieh Häberli 40.00 Forty francs.
33 J b. Häberli do 3.00 Three francs.
34 Friedrich Häberli, sen. M. Buchsee 5.00
Rudolf Häberli, jr do 3.00
Fritz Bartlone Sand-pit not received. 2.00
(Ilegible) 4.00 Four francs.
Do 2.00 Two francs.
Joh Kästli M. Buchsee 4.00
Joh Eberhard, brick-maker. Zollikofen 2.00 Two francs.
(Illegible), tavern-keeper. Zollikofen 4.00 Four francs.
Joh Wegmüller Reichenbach 1.00 One franc.
G. Heumannn, paid Reichenbach 4.00 Four francs.
Joh Hädorn Reichenbach 2.00 Two francs.
Widow Otti Steinbach not received ?.00 [Two francs.]
J. Ulr. Friedrich, teacher Rutti 1.00 One franc.
(Illegible) Zollikofen 1.00 One franc.
(Illegible) Landgraben 2.00 Two francs.
Do Landgraben 2.00
[Johannes Haueter] Landgraben 4.00 Franken.
[Benedict Haubi] Hubel 2.50 Fr. 2, rp. 50.
(Illegible) Hubel, not received
[Mrs. Meister] Not received
E. Maurer Not received
(Illegible) Landgraben 1.00
[Jacob Kœnig, farmer] 4.00 Ditto 4.
Chr. Haberli. 4.00
[Ottenfels]. Berne 3.00 Three francs paid.
Joh. Otti, nicht erhalten Steinibach 4.00
Joh. Walther Diemerswyl 1.00 Not received.
[Fr. Gerber] Diemerswyl 1.00 Received 1 franc.
[Jb. Hegg] Diemerswyl 2.00 Received 2.
[Fried Walther] Diemerswyl 1.00 Ditto 1.
[Widow Baumgartner] Diemerswyl 3.00 Ditto 3.
[Benedict Kœnig] Diemerswyl 2.00 Ditto 2.
[Benedict Hegg] M. Buchsee, fr 2.00 Received franc 2.
[Niklaus Kœnig, Jak] Disswyl 2.00 Ditto 2.
(Illegible) 1.00 Paid 1.
Do 1.00
[Fr. Schneider] Two francs Paid 2.
[J. Walter] Not received 5.00 Paid 5.
[Bend Rufer] Not received Paid 2.
[Bend Rauber] Paid 2.

Translator’s Note.—The signatures of the subscribers on the original petition are for the most part written in pencil, and from the wear and tear of circulating the document many of them have become illegible. The crossing out and the remarks “not received” &c., in the original are likewise either in lead or blue pencil.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 397.—Translation.]

Certificate of the police at Berne, concerning Benedict Eberhard.

The undersigned officially certifies hereby that Benedict Aeberhard, son of Christian and Magdelina Baumann, born in 1851, a rope-maker, has been punished, as follows:

January 26, 1870, by the judicature at Fraubrunnen to 1 day imprisonment.
October 2, 1872, magistrate’s court at Burgdorf to 1 month solitary confinement.
April 4, 1873, to 1½ years house of correction.
November 8, 1875, at the assizes of the second district 16 months in prison. All on account of theft.
September 1, 1877, discharged by the police justice without costs, and as innocent, on a charge of theft.
January 5, 1878, by the police justice, for theft and to four months in the house of correction.
October 25, 1879, by the police justice, for theft and dangerously threatening life, to four months in the house of correction.
November 20, 1880, by the police justice, for aiding in stealing wood, to twenty days’ imprisonment and ten francs fine.

The secretary of the police department.

Seal of central police, Berne.—[l. s.]

[Page 1147]

For the authenticity of the foregoing signature.

Berne, April 19, 1881.

No. 2532, 60.

In the name of the cantonal chancery, Berne.

The cantonal secretary.


Seal of the cantonal chancery, Berne.—[l. s.]

No. 1406, fr. 1.

Seen for authentication.

Berne, April 19, 1881.

The Swiss federal chancery.


Seal of the Swiss federal chancery.—[l. s.]