No. 234.
Mr. Lowell to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 573.]

Sir: Referring to your instruction No. 596, of the 25th of May last, in relation to the action of Her Majesty’s Government in assisting the emigration of inhabitants of Ireland to the United States, in reply I have the honor to state that my attention had been naturally already drawn to the subject, but that I concluded upon reflection that there would be great difficulty herein ascertaining the facts and identifying the persons sent out, and that the laws already existing in the United States making it a penal offense to import paupers would suffice to check and remedy the evil. The class whom the Government proposed to assist were, as I had always heard and believe, to be from that one called the “congested districts” in Ireland, and were persons able and willing to work, but prevented from maintaining themselves by the unfavorable conditions of soil, climate and superabundant population. They were [Page 437] to be precisely such immigrants as the United States had always welcomed when they came, and even encouraged to come, and great numbers of whom had been aided in coming by their relatives and friends in America, who had remitted money for the purpose. I had at one time gone so far as even to make the draft of a note of remonstrance to Lord Granville, but reflecting that I had no more stable grounds to go on than the telegraphic reports to the newspapers, I thought it wiser to wait for definite instructions from the President.

In the meanwhile, however, in accordance with your directions, I took the first occasion of speaking with Lord Granville on the subject, telling him that the exportation of paupers would be naturally resented by the people and Government of the United States, and that I should address a private note to him calling for information. This I accordingly did, and in reply received an unofficial note from him conveying a statement from Lord Spencer, the highest and most trustworthy authority, to the following effect:

We have had no desire to send emigrants to the United States; hut many wished it, and we put upon them the check of requiring those asking to go there to show letters from relatives and friends indicating that they would be helped to find work.

This was carried out in no illusory way.

Remember, too, that families have been selected with a view of their being able to support themselves. As we want the scheme to suceed, it is against our policy to send out those who would fail and become paupers.

About 11,000 persons have been, aided to emigrate to the United States, or have been approved of as emigrants to that country.

Very few can properly be called paupers. In some cases persons in receipt of relief in workhouses have been sent out with other emigrants, but they are a very small proportion of the whole number selected.

In some few instances the aged father or mother of the emigrant has been allowed to accompany the family, but only when there is reason to believe that the working members of the family are sufficient in number to maintain by their labor the aged persons referred to, as well as the younger children.

The practice is to give one pound for each adult, and ten shillings for each child over one year of age, as an allowance on landing; but in consequence of a report received by the local Government board on the subject of the demand for labor in the United States, instructions have been given to the emigration committee to take care that in determining upon the destinations of persons who may be selected for emigration under the provisions of the twentieth section of the “arrears of rent” (Ireland) act, the emigrants are not allowed to proceed to the United States unless they desire to join friends or relatives there and unless they can show that their friends or relatives are in a position to put them in the way of procuring employment and can help them to maintain themselves until they obtain such employment. * * *

I also addressed a note to Mr. Sidney Buxton, M. P., agent for the so-called “Tuke fund,” and received from him the following reply to my questions:

Only one family (out of about eight hundred whom Mr. Tuke’s fund is sending) came from the workhouse. This family was going straight to the man’s father in Wisconsin. They went by the first ship, and most satisfactory letters have been received from them.

No families were sent to the States who could not produce letters from some near male relative out there promising them a welcome and help in getting work when they should arrive.

Mr. Buxton always saw the letters, so as to be sure they were of recent date and were not forged. Those people who had no friends in the States were sent to Canada, if they were suitable and willing to go. In Canada they will be met and looked after by the agent and friends of our committee.

The assistance given (in addition to the free passage) was a suit of clothes usually for every member of the family, and a sum of money (varying from £8 to £1 for a single person) to be handed to the head of each family on landing. The amount was calculated according to the length of the journey, the number in the family, ages, &c.

I may add to this statement, written on behalf of Mr. Buxton, that a late article by him, contributed to the Fortnightly, gives a detailed account of these proceedings.

[Page 438]

I inclose, as containing additional information calculated to throw some light on the matter, a letter of Mr. J. H. Tuke, reprinted from the Times of the 15th of June, instant. * * *

I shall transmit further facts in relation to this subject as soon as I shall be able to obtain them.

I think I may, in conclusion, express my conviction that nothing could be farther from the wish of Her Majesty’s Government than to promote or connive at the exportation of paupers to the United States, or to do anything that would be so surely and properly offensive to the Government at Washington.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 573.]

Mr. Tuke to the editor of the Times .

[Extract from the Times of June 11, 1883.]

Sir: Will you allow me, on my return from the West of Ireland, to supplement the short statement of the work carried on by the committte of the Tuke fund which appeared recently in the Times?

Since March 23, the date of the first shipment, to June 3, when the last party sailed, upwards of 800 families and a limited number of single persons—in all 4,800 souls—have been assisted by the committee, under the emigration clauses of the arrears act. In addition to ocean passage and “landing money,” each emigrant had to be clothed and conveyed from the home to the port of embarkation by means of cars, carts, or boats—many of the people for a distance of from 30 to 60 miles. All emigrants for the United States have been provided with through tickets to the various destinations where friends resided who had promised beforehand to find work and a home, or to employers with whom the committee had previously made arrangements for their reception; while for those going to Canada arrangements had also been made with the agents of the Dominion Government to forward the emigrants to various places, ranging from Toronto to Winnepeg, wherever labor was demanded.

The total population of the four unions in Mayo and Galway, from which the 4,800 emigrants have been assisted, is under 50,000, and it will at once be evident that the departure of one in ten of the population, and these from the poorest and smallest holdings, must prove a very sensible relief to the existing destitution of these districts. At the same time it is of the utmost importance to recognize that these emigrants are not paupers. Deplorable as may be their want of proper food and clothing, they are neither recipients of outdoor relief, nor inmates of the workhouse, but impoverished from the entire want of employment and the impossibility of living on their small holdings.

Objections are often urged against our work, based upon the belief that the vacant holdings will be immediately filled up, and the question is repeatedly asked, “What has become of the land now vacated?” The statistics taken from one electoral division of the Clifden Union will, I think, dispel some of these objections, and, so far as my information goes, may be regarded as a fair illustration of the whole unions, unless it be that a larger proportion of holdings may remain unfilled in some still poorer divisions.

Of forty-three holdings twenty-seven were held by head tenants, paying rent from 25s. to £5 each; seven held by under tenants; and nine held in conacre. As regards the land of the twenty-seven head tenants, nineteen of the holdings have been added to those of adjoining tenants, and eight remain unoccupied, the land being deemed too poor, or the landlord preferring to retain it without a tenant, while the lands of the seven under tenants and nine conacre men, who held by the season only, have reverted to the head tenants. So far as this evidence goes, it seems all in the right direction, viz, the consolidation of holdings, and increase in the quantity of land required for those who remain. And if, as I believe, the same beneficial results have been attained for the whole of the districts from which the 800 families who have been assisted by the committee have been drawn, it may, I think, fairly be claimed that family emigration thus conducted benefits alike those who leave and those who remain. In addition it may be said to those who dread a refilling of these miserable holdings, that the sense of the impossibility of living upon them has at length [Page 439] strongly taken hold upon the minds of the people in the West of Ireland, and that, subject to the success of those who have gone forth this year, thousands more will be ready to leave if the chance is given them another year. And if, as I think, the evidence is conclusive as to the benefit conferred upon the localities from which this emigration has taken place, what, it will be asked, are the results for those who have left?

It is as yet too early to speak with any degree of certainty of these results, although many letters have been received from the emigrants who left early, speaking of the abundance of the employment and the welcome they have received from their friends. But this may undoubtedly be said, that no emigrants have left their homes in Ireland under happier auspices, with less risk of failure, or with better chances of; success. Well clothed, and conveyed from their door to the port of embarkation, where they are met and have lodgings and food provided by the agents of the Government and the committee, until the ocean steamers are ready to convey them to their destinations; provided with free passages and railway tickets to any part of Canada or the United States that they may select, and are approved by the committee, and on landing, met by agents appointed by the English or Canadian Government, the emigrant feels that he is cared for, and that friendly hands have been stretched out to aid and succor him; above all, among a people with whom the family tie is so paramount, the fact that the family is not divided, that husband and Wife, and the long procession of older or younger “Pats and Peters, Marys and Barbaras, with Festy and ‘the couple,”’ are allowed to go together, gives to the “fremigration” (as it called) a wholly different character.

This deprives the embarkation of its sadness, and in the ten or twelve shipments at which I have assisted there has rarely been the painful wailing so familiar at the railway stations when one member of a family leaves alone. As I heard it remarked, one day, “One would suppose the people were going for a picnic, they are so cheerful and happy.” And as, at parting, they crowd with prayers and blessings around those who have had the happiness of being allowed to assist them, their gratitude is evinced in many little acts very touching to witness. That this feeling is not merely momentary, the captains of the various steamers of Messrs. Allan & Co. have borne ample evidence. One extract only I will ask you to find room for; it is from Captain Browne, of the steamship Phoenician, whose name is well known for courage and seamanship as “Atlantic Browne.” It is dated May 20, 1883, steamship Phoenician, Glasgow:

“We arrived here yesterday all well, after our second trip with emigrants from Ireland, assisted by Tuke’s fund, and in referring to them I feel it my duty to say something in their favor. They have on both voyages behaved themselves in a manner most creditable, always strictly observing all orders given and company’s rules, which are printed in the steerage. I consider they are deserving of all praise. Before landing at Boston I gave them the money (landing) as per Mr. Tuke’s list, when they appeared to be truly thankful. In fact every time I spoke to them they were very pleased and grateful to those gentlemen who had assisted them in leaving their old homesteads.

“Your obedient servant,


It will also be satisfactory to those who have assisted in this movement to learn that the emigrants selected have entirely satisfied the agents of the Canadian Government on their arrival, and have even won from their opponents in the United States a very favorable notice. Mr. Stafford, the able emigration agent for the Canadian Government at Quebec, on the arrival of the fourth of our shipments, says: “The emigrants are remarkably well behaved. You have made really good selections, and the health, appearance and good conduct of the people were all that could be desired. Labor is in good demand, and I have no doubt all your people are at work.”

After the violent opposition with which we were threatened by the American newspapers, it is especially gratifying to find that they have been compelled to change their curses into blessings, as” the following quotation from the Boston Daily Advertiser will show:

“The much-expected ‘emptying of the almshouses of Great Britain upon our shores’ does not appear to have begun yet, and neither statute law nor diplomacy has been needed to be applied to assisted immigrants. The steamship Phoenician, of the Allan line, reached its dock at this port yesterday bringing 821 steerage passengers, of whom 415 had been ‘assisted.’ This assistance, as explained in the Advertiser of April 24, is provided in Ireland partly from a benevolent fund known as the ‘Tuke fund,’ and partly from the treasury of the British Government. These passengers came principally from the West of Ireland, being taken on board at ports where the agents of this line of steamers have contracted to do so. The customary strict inspection was made by the state superintendent of alien passengers or his deputy. [Page 440] None were found to be objectionable on the score of being likely to become subjects of public charity, and they appeared to be a physically sound and healthy lot of people, quite up to the average of immigrants coming here without assistance. Wherein this class conspicuously differs from the general run of immigrants from Ireland, is the greater portion of children among them. Of the 415 assisted passengers of the Phoenician, 196 were of less than 15 years of age, and of the 415, there were 92 destined to different points in this State.

“The ticket which is given in Ireland to an assisted passenger conveys him to his ultimate destination. The Montana-bound party, for example, did not have to get anything more in the shape of a ticket, or the like, when they reached this port. These points of destination are not invariably a matter of option on the part of the assisted passenger. He has the option of remaining at home, but if he takes passage he must go to a point where the agent of the assisting parties has information that employment can be found on arrival. In general, they are assisted beyond the price of the passage by a gift outright of money, in varying sums of from 10s. to £12.

“So far as can be ascertained, no person of the five different arrivals, of assisted passengers reaching this port since April 3 has become a ‘burden to the State,’ though all have paid the head-money of half a dollar. The sum total of this head-money is held as a fund by the treasurer of the United States, with due credit to Massachusetts on the books, to offset the liability which the State incurs. If any of these passengers become subjects of public charity, wherever they may be, this fund is liable to be drawn upon to maintain them. Whenever it shall be exhausted, if it so happen, the treasury of Massachusetts will be liable, but the State may at any time relieve itself of the burden by sending the pauper back to Ireland. The first lot of assisted passengers coming to this port arrived in the Phoenician on her previous voyage, April 3. The arrival of yesterday makes the fifth lot. The following table indicates the general facts of this immigration:

Description. Phœnician,
April 3.
April 15.
April 28.
May 1.
May 10.
Assisted passengers 213 554 511 129 415
Of fifteen year or less 85 248 224 491 196
From fifteen to twenty-five years 68 165 139 49 101
From twenty-fire to fifty years 45 97 116 94 91
Above fifty years 18 34 41 7 27
Males 123 267 276 66 205
Females 90 287 241 63 210
Families 44 81 76 17 64

Before closing, I will ask your permission to be allowed publicly to express to his excellency the lord-lieutenant, Mr. R. G. Hamilton, and Mr. Henry Robinson the deep sense of our gratitude for the unvarying kindness and assistance which they have at all times accorded to those who, like myself, have been engaged in the practical carrying out of this responsible work, and the warm interest which they have evinced has materially aided a work often both arduous and difficult. The experience of the past three or four months has more than ever confirmed the opinion that a carefully considered system of State-aided emigration is essential for the districts under consideration in the West of Ireland, and not less absolutely needed are measures for the development of the resources of these districts, if the prosperity of the whole Government and its good government are to be permanently secured.

I am, &c.,