Mr. Wharton to Mr. Edwardes.

Sir: Referring to Sir Julian Pauncefote’s note of the 22d of May last, concerning the case of certain British subjects who were not allowed to land from the steam-ship Obdam at the port of New York on the ground that they were contract laborers, I now have the honor to inclose for your information a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury sustaining the action of the collector in refusing to allow the persons in question to laud.

I have, etc.,

William F. Wharton.

Mr. Windom to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th instant, inclosing a copy of a further note from the British minister relating to the case of the British immigrants who arrived at New York by the steamer Obdam, intending to go to Texas.

The British minister, referring to the action of the collector of the port of New York in this ease, expresses the opinion “that there is no contract in this case expressed or implied, which brings it within the prohibition of the law,” adding that “the act in its terms contemplates the existence of a contract for a specific labor or service, whereas the contract in the present case was only to provide board and lodging until the immigrants should obtain ‘such labor or service.’” And he asks “the Secretary of the Treasury to express his opinion on the legal merits of this case as soon as possible.”

In reply I have to say that, after careful consideration and consultation with the Solicitor of the Treasury, to whom all the papers in the ease, including the British minister’s last note, were referred with request to report whether, in his opinion, the papers referred furnished evidence of the existence of a contract between the immigrants and other parties contrary to the provisions of the alien contract labor acts, I concurred in his opinion that there was a contract between said immigrants and other parties which justified the Secretary in deciding that they should be returned, as the law requires, to the country from which they came; and I have to add that instructions have been sent to the collector of customs at New York that, in all cases where the evidence of importation under contract is the same as that in the case of the British immigrants who came by the steam-ship Obdam, with letters of introduction from J. M. Wrightson & Co., of London, to Samuel Neel, agent at Seguin, Texas, [Page 478] with the signature appended thereto of the immigrant, stating that he is “willing and able and will accept work as above stated,” such immigrant must be returned by the importing vessel to the country from which he came.

Respectfully, yours,

W. Windom,