Mr. Winchester to Mr. Blaine.

No. 280]

Sir: On the 10th instant the United States consul at Basle, Mr. George Gifford, conveyed to this legation certain information furnished him by a confidential correspondent, whose name he did not feel at liberty to disclose, as follows:

I hereby notify you that on next Thursday morning forty persons, forwarded by the emigrant agents Moore and Rommel, start from here (Hof in Meiringen) for Berne, leaving the latter place for New York, by way of Havre, on Friday morning. Nearly all of these persons are forwarded on the credit system, as I learn; for instance, the three families Streich, who are said to emigrate in this way. Among them is a certain Bossli, who is said to have been arrested for debt last Friday, but was released on giving bond.

Whilst Consul Gifford did not give the name of his informant, there was in his letter an implied indorsement as to his credibility, sufficient to justify the legation to make an exception, of submitting to the Swiss foreign office a complaint or report, and requesting an investigation, without at the same time giving the authority for the same; further than that, the information had come through the United States consul at Basle, as a well-authenticated report.

[Page 699]

Immediately on the receipt of Consul Gilford’s letter the legation laid the facts before the chief of the emigration division of the Swiss foreign office, with the request that the matter be promptly investigated and if found to be true, the necessary steps be taken to stop the shipment of these emigrants. The chief very cheerfully assented to do all in his power, and within twenty-four hours the legation received the following note from the foreign office:

The federal department of foreign affairs has made known to the director of police of the canton of Berne the facts stated in the letter of the United States consul at Basle, with the request to give the matter attention, and if the complaint was found to be true, to detain the said emigrants. The investigation made by the prefect of Berne she wed the complaint to be unfounded. The chief of the federal bureau of emigration, who accompanied the train conveying the emigrants, advised the federal department of foreign affairs that he had closely examined the emigrants in question, and was satisfied that none of them would be classed as paupers or have had money advances made to them for purposes of emigration. Some nave negotiated loans, as many emigrants do, but not from the commune, to supplement their already considerable property. Most of them are going to join relations and friends who are established in the United States, and represent a thrifty and robust class of persons. As to Bossli, he was not arrested, hut simply requested to settle a bill for wood due to his commune. There could he discovered no ground to detain these persons or in any way interfere with their emigration. The complaint doubtless was inspired by the jealousy of some competing emigration agency.

The legation has been led to report this occurrence, otherwise inconsequential, from the fact that during the four years of the present incumbency no complaint had been made of the shipment of any objectionable and prohibited class of emigrants from Switzerland, and there had not arisen the slightest cause to doubt the honest desire and active effort of the Swiss officials, federal and cantonal, fully and in good faith to execute the law of 1881, forbidding the “forwarding of persons to whom the laws of the country to which they propose to emigrate prohibited entry,” and these facts had been with considerable gratification, in several dispatches, made known to the Department of State. Therefore the legation was surprised some time since to observe that the Immigration Investigation Committee of the House of Representatives, in the report submitted last January, had specified Switzerland as one of the countries from which criminals and prohibited emigrants were shipped “even after they had been requested to desist,” and in dispatch to the Department, No. 254, expressed this surprise, coupled with a desire to know upon what evidence the committee had based this statement. The case herein given in detail is reported merely to confirm what has heretofore been said, and as evidence that on the very first occasion when the intervention of the Swiss officials has been desired in reference to suspected, improper, and prohibited emigrants, it has been promptly and cheerfully exercised.

I am, etc.,

Boyd Winchester.