to Mr. Lothrop.
Washington, September 23, 1886.
Sir: In your No. 77 you inform the Department of the present status of the Russian law respecting the right of an alien of the Hebrew faith to enter or reside within His Imperial Majesty’s territory.
You state that, save in exceptional cases, it is altogther denied, and that though efforts have been made on various occasions by the legation to induce the Russian Government to modify the law, there now exists no probability of such modification, although special exception has been made at your request.
The treatment of alien Jews prescribed by the Russian law is such as we, whose system of Government rests on toleration and freedom of conscience, cannot comprehend without difficulty or view without regret. Aimed, as it would appear, principally at Russian-Polish Jews by origin, and rigidly applied as to them even when they are lawful citizens of another state, the fact that the enforcement of the law in the case of worthy foreign Jews of other origin appears to be within the discretion of the police authorities, and that the representations of the legation are generally heeded when an American Jew is in question, fortunately makes occasion for protest rare.[Page 775]
The instance cited by you is in point where a native-born Hebrew merchant of New York was promptly relieved from the harsh order of expulsion.
Any case arising should be carefully examined on its merits, and where the person interested is not by origin a Russian Jew, returning to his native country under circumstances suggesting danger to the state and implying the exercise of the ultimate right of self-preservation, the earnest efforts of the legation will doubtless be exerted to secure relief in whatever way the Russian administrative system may indicate as practical. * * *
The Government of the Czar is fully aware that we do not admit the principle of discriminating against any American citizens because of their religious tenets.
I am, &c.