No. 432.
Mr. Magee to Mr. Bayard.

No. 51.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 19, of date of January 4th instant, inclosing a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Sidney W. Cooper, United States consul at Gothenberg, Sweden.

The subject of both dispatches, viz, the exportation from Sweden to the United States of persons belonging to the pauper and criminal classes, had received considerable attention from myself prior to your instructions relating thereto.

Most shipments of Swedish emigrants take place either from the port of Copenhagen or Gothenberg, as those two are the only Scandinavian ports from which shipments can be made direct. So far as this port is concerned, I am very well satisfied that no such practice prevails as that referred to and made the subject of Mr. Cooper’s dispatch. Some time since the attention of the Swedish Government was called to this matter, whereupon it disavowed in the most emphatic manner any knowledge of or connivance with the practice complained of. My predecessor caused at that time to be published in the leading Swedish papers the law of the United States relating to emigration, and the Swedish Government has enacted a law which requires every person about to emigrate to first procure from the chief of police of the district in which the proposing emigrant resides a certificate, certifying that he or she does not belong to one or both of the objected classes referred to in your dispatch. That law is still in force.

There exists in this city, with branches in the principal cities of the Kingdom, a society the object of which is to assist discharged convicts, and it has been the practice of this society to furnish money to such of that class as desire to emigrate.

So soon as it was ascertained that this society had assisted criminals to emigrate to the United States the officers were notified that it was in violation of existing laws, and I have their assurances that they immediately ceased doing so. The consul at this city has been extremely vigilant in this behalf; but owing to the fact that this class can ship as seamen or laborers from ports where there is no consular agent of the United States, and can evade thereby the regulation of this Government, it is impossible to say to what extent the practice prevails.

I am further informed that a portion of this class go to Germany, England, and other countries, and it is possible they reship from some port in those countries.

It is a very easy matter for an emigrant to get out of this country and evade the existing laws by going to Copenhagen, or any port on the Baltic or North Sea, and this, I understand, is a common practice.

Whatever aid is rendered emigrants of this class is done clandestinely by friends of the emigrating pauper or criminal. It is very certain this Government does not give any aid to this or any class of emigrants. * * * By inspection of the certificate issued to each emigrant by the Swedish chief of police the United States consul can ascertain the character of the emigrant, and if he finds the certificate fraudulent he can prevent the embarkation; The consul at this city informs me that the Swedish authorities have always rendered him any assistance asked in ascertaining the character of the proposing emigrant. Doubtless the same courtesy prevails at every port in the Kingdom.

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I can readily understand the importance of this question; but it is just possible that the report of the evil is somewhat exaggerated, as after considerable inquiry among persons who know something of emigration and the character of emigrants I can hardly agree with Mr. Cooper when he says that “it is a common practice throughout Sweden” to ship the criminal and pauper class to America. What occurs at Gothenberg or other ports I am unable to say; but I am very well convinced that no such practice prevails at this port, and in no way does the General Government encourage such emigration. If I can as certain what municipality engages in this business, I think I can secure the co-operation of the Government in putting a stop to it.

Wherever the practice prevails it is done secretly, and it is difficult to arrive at the true facts, and therefore any further suggestions you may be pleased to make to me will receive my prompt attention.

I have, &c.,