No. 1015.
Mr. Magee to Mr. Bayard.

No. 142.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your No. 99, of date September 12, inclosing a copy of a letter from Mr. Gade, United States consul at Christiania, and a copy of a letter of J. F. Kennedy, M. D., of Des Moines, Iowa, to the Hon. W. B. Allison, relating to the emigrating from Stavanger, Norway, to Iowa, of two person afflicted with leprosy.

I went to the royal foreign office upon the receipt of your instruction and reported the facts as given in the letter of Dr. Kennedy. I have also addressed the department a note upon the subject. I had a long and interesting conversation with the secretary, in which we discussed the present emigration laws and kindred subjects. I was assured that whatever the royal department could do in preventing such emigration in the future would be done, but it is impossible to make any regulation that can not be avoided. I have heretofore called attention of United States consuls to the necessity of exercising great watchfulness as to the character and condition of emigrants and to prohibit ail objectionable persons from embarking.

I have no reason to think consuls are derelict in their duties. No person can leave either of the United Kingdoms without a certificate as to their condition, etc., from either the pastor of the district in which such intending emigrant has resided, or the chief of police. The consul at the embarking port has the right to see this certificate; this, perhaps, is neglected; captains of vessels are much to blame; they never question an emigrant, but accept all who offer. It is a very easy matter for persons coming within the objection to go to a Danish, German, and English port, and from one of these, go to the States. It is possible that the two leprous women referred to in Dr. Kennedy’s letter went in this way. The department will institute an inquiry and ascertain if any Norwegian pastor or police officer issued to these women a certificate.

The Royal Government does not encourage emigration and looks with much disfavor upon the fact that a large number of its most active young men and women leave the country annually for America, and would gladly restrict the number if it could. The number of emigrants last year was almost equal to the increase in population. Naturally abuses of emigrant laws exist, and until the Government of the United States takes some steps to restrict the promiscuous inflow of emigrants from all nations of Europe, evils such as are complained of in Dr. Kennedy’s letter will continue to occur. The steam-ship company and emigrant agent cares nothing for the character or condition of the emigrant, but is intensely interested in getting all the passage money possible. They are the active and pernicious agents who encourage by low rates the poor, improvident, sick, helpless, and worthless to go to America, where they hope to better their fortune. If the captain of the vessel who received the leprous women could be punished by a term of imprisonment it might have a salutary effect upon others. The emigration evil is no greater one than that of the foreign-born citizen who resides long enough in th6 United States to make his declaration of intention, and then, armed with his declaration, bearing the broad seal of some court, returns to his native country to live, and when asked to perform his military or other duty refuses and appeals to a legation or [Page 1489] consulate for aid. He is always an extremely objectionable person to the government in which he resides, and is a constant source of irritation and annoyance. This evil could be lessened by requiring an emigrant to reside in the United States for at least five years before he could make his declaration, and ten or more before he could be finally naturalized. No woman over the age of twenty-five, unless married, ought to be permitted to emigrate, and no man over the age of fitly. Both of this kind of emigrants have passed that age when they can be of much value to such communities as form the United States.

I have given this subject of emigration attention. I have some very radical opinions that perhaps would be of little interest to your Department. It would be a great deal better we had no more emigrants from the United Kingdoms than that we should receive any from its criminal, pauper, or leper class. Under the present lax enforcement of the law governing this subject, we can not escape such evils as are presented by the Iowa cases. When such occurrences are brought to my knowledge I protest to the royal foreign office. I am assured in return that steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence, and I have to say in every instance to which I have called the attention of the foreign office I have had prompt and energetic action. But all this does not abate the constant outflow to America of objectionable classes. We hear of the pauper, the criminal, or the leper after his or her arrival.

I will inform you of the result of the inquiry that will be made into the cases referred to in Dr. Kennedy’s letter.

I have, etc.,

Rufus Magee.