No. 695.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Evarts.

No. 401.]

Sir: In yesterday’s session of the National Council a motion was introduced by Messrs. Joos and Vögelin, and signed by sixty-eight other members of that body, to the following effect:

In view of the annual increase in emigration of Swiss citizens, the Federal Council is invited to promptly present a report and propositions to the Federal Assembly, after an examination of the question, to ascertain how emigration without a fixed destination can be prevented, and the efforts of families emigrating to a new home can be directed into the proper channel.

The subject of this so-called “aimless emigration” has been the subject of comment in the Swiss consular reports for many years, and has also frequently been noticed in the messages and reports of the Federal Council. It was, perhaps, the reference to it in Mr. Byer’s article in the New York Tribune that called forth the most criticism of that article from the critics in the United States.

The signatures to the motion indicate that it will meet with the support of a majority of the National Council; but it remains to be seen whether the Federal Council will consider that, under the present constitution, the Federal Assembly is competent to deal with the question. Hitherto it has always been held that the constitution did not give them power to legislate on the question of emigration, and there were many deputies who considered the law concerning emigration agencies as verging on the extreme limit of federal competence in this matter. The enormous proportion which emigration from Switzerland has assumed (good judges estimate the number of emigrants this year at 15,000; it averaged, according to the Swiss statistics, 3,197 per annum from 1870 to 1879, inclusive) may possibly effect a change in the opinions hitherto entertained, or may eventually place the subject of emigration fully under federal jurisdiction.

I inclose herewith the printed text of the motion, in German and in French, and

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 401.—Translation.]

In view of the annually-increasing emigration of Swiss citizens, the Federal Council is hereby requested to examine this question, and to present a report as speedily as possible to the Federal Assembly, together with suggestions in regard to the manner in which aimless emigration may be prevented, and the efforts, especially of families seeking new homes, may be properly directed.