Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.
St. Petersburg, September 25, 1890. (Received October 14.)
Sir: You have been advised by previous dispatches from this legation that the published rumors of new proscription measures, or the revival and oppressive application of old and obsolete edicts, against the Hebrew residents and subjects of the Russian Empire are declared by the Russian Government to be entirely groundless. Notwithstanding the authoritative denial of these reports, they still crop up from time to time, and are persistently repeated with a degree of circumstance [Page 702] well calculated to create the impression that they have some foundation of fact. This continued imputation of purpose and acts, to which, if really entertained or executed, we could not be indifferent, renders it proper that I should apprise you of some further evidence on the subject.
The statement recently appeared in the columns of the London Times that, despite the disavowal of the Russian Government, some five or six hundred Hebrew families residing at Odessa had been summarily notified that they must immediately abandon their homes and, in fact, that they had already been expelled from the country. It has come to my knowledge that, in view of this publication, the British embassy at this capital called on the British consul at Odessa to investigate the story and report upon its truth. His report has now been made, and I am able to communicate its substance. He directed his inquiries not only among the Government officials, but among the Hebrews themselves, and the latter were as emphatic as the former in declaring that no order of the character described had been issued and no movement of the kind attempted. He found no confirmation of the story in any quarter. A number of Hebrew families had emigrated or were preparing to do so, but this action was entirely voluntary on their part, and was not taken under compulsion. This emigration was explained by the rabbis and the highest authorities among the Hebrews as due to the fact that there were many youths in those families, and that, as the number admitted to the universities in Russia is limited, they removed to other countries to secure the opportunity of higher education; and thus it was made clear that there was no foundation for the particular charge which had been preferred against the Government.
These reports of new proscriptive designs against the Hebrews on the part of the Russian Government have naturally created more concern in other countries than here, because, so far as can be ascertained, they had their sole origin and obtained their sole credence remote from the scene. Had there been any good reason for supposing that measures so repugnant to every sentiment of justice and humanity were actually undertaken or seriously contemplated, it would have been a duty to report them for such consideration as they would have required. But it is a source of special gratification to be able to present not only the denials of the Government, but confirmatory testimony that these injurious allegations are baseless.
I have, etc.,