Mr. Smith to Mr. Blaine.

No. 171.]

Sir: As you are aware, my present stay in Russia before taking the leave of absence granted in January, has been prolonged more than two months beyond my expectation by obligations growing out of the American movement for the relief of the distress caused by the famine in several provinces of this Empire. Being now about to depart it is proper that I should submit a brief report of this special work.

Up to this date the amount of money contributions received by this legation was 154,777.95 rubles, or about $77,000. Of this sum 69,063.05 rubles came through the New York Chamber of Commerce; 19,775 rubles through the Baltimore fund; 37,176.33 rubles through the Philadelphia Committee (of which about 20,000 rubles, received to-day for a special purpose, have not yet been deposited); 11,243.26 rubles through the Massachusetts fund; and 7,020 rubles through the Cleveland fund. The balance was made up of smaller sums. Of payments from this American relief fund under the control of the legation, 80,125.86 rubles have been made through the relief organization of the British American Church; 11,934.50 rubles through the Jewish committee; 11,020 rubles to Count Leo Tolstoi; 13,196,55 rubles to the special committee of the Czarowitz; besides some smaller amounts.

In addition to these cash receipts two steamers, the Indiana and the Missouri, laden with flour have arrived; and their cargoes, amounting to nearly 10,000,000 pounds have been distributed under the direction of the legation. I am advised that a third steamer, the Conemaugh, is about sailing, and arrangements are being made for a similar disposition of the relief she brings. A fourth steamer is expected, and its [Page 381] cargo can be distributed in the same manner if desired. An efficient organization has been made which is capable of dealing with whatever contributions may come.

It is felt to be due to the American contributors to inform them of the methods and agents used in conveying their offerings to the suffering peasants for whom they were designed. I have, therefore, prepared as the most convenient form a circular letter embodying detailed statements which need not be repeated here, and it is appended as an inclosure.

I have, etc.,

Chas. Emory Smith.
[Inclosure in No. 171.]

Mr. Smith to the American contributors to the Russian famine relief funds.

The American contributions for the relief of the sufferers from the famine in Russia have come in two forms—food and money. Up to the present time two steamers, the Indiana and the Missouri, have arrived, laden with flour and other breadstuffs. Two more are to come. Besides these shiploads of food, about $77,000 in money have been sent to the American legation for distribution. The value of these offerings is more than 1,000,000 rubles.

The contributors are entitled to know what has been done with their generous gifts. It would involve top much labor and needless repetition to send to every center or committee a detailed statement with the necessary explanation. I, therefore, present a general report in a form which can be submitted to all, and which, it is hoped, will prove satisfactory.

Appended to this letter will be found an exact account of the moneys received and of the payments made. This account is given in rubles—the ruble being substantially the equivalent of 50 cents. The variations observable in the proceeds of equal amounts are due to the fluctuating rate of exchange. Wherever the contributors indicated how their gifts should be applied, their instructions were followed. In other cases, I exercised the discretion entrusted to me. In all cases receipts were taken from the parties to whom the payments were made, and they have been sent to the contributors.

It will be observed that, with the exception of three special payments, which are understood by the particular contributors, all of the money was expended through three channels—the relief organization of the British-American Church of St. Petersburg, the Jewish relief committee, and Count Tolstoi. The work of Count Tolstoi is well known and needs no explanation. Comparatively few Hebrews were among the sufferers, as there are only two of the famine provinces in which they dwell in any considerable number. The greater part of the funds went through the British-American committee, That organization was early selected as the special auxiliary and medium of the American legation in this work. When it first became evident that considerable contributions were coming from America, immediate attention was directed to the method of distribution. Two considerations were manifestly of paramount importance. The first was to find a channel of distribution which should command the full confidence of the contributors, and which should permit the contributions to be followed to their final destination and application. The second was to do this in a manner which would carry the cordial approval and cooperation of the Russian Government.

Fortunately, the relief organization of the British-American Church presented the means of fulfilling both requirements. The pastor, Rev. Alexander Francis, made two distinct and extended visits to the famine region and selected various local agents; consultation was had with landed proprietors of other interested and active people within his and my own personal acquaintance; and by these means, carefully followed through a period of several months, an organization of local committees was built up and extended, through which the distribution could be made directly to the suffering peasantry.

In every case, detailed reports were required, so that it would be possible to tell where every dollar or carload of flour went and what was done with it. This organization assured the most faithful and conscientious application of the gifts, and by personal conference with the highest Russian authorities I satisfied myself that it not only had their approval and confidence, but that they desired to aid it in every practical way.

[Page 382]

Through this auxiliary, therefore, I have paid more than 100,000 rubles in money, most of it applied through channels to which I gave personal examination. A few illustrations of its distribution are given. Three thousand rubles were furnished to Madame Davidoff, the chief of a committee that is sustaining some ten villages. Five hundred rubles were given to Countess Olga Tolstoi for material to be worked by peasants. Three thousand one hundred rubles were paid to Madame Weliaminoff, who, with her associate ladies, is carrying on nearly one hundred soup kitchens, relieving the most necessitous in a district with a population of 170,000 souls. Five thousand rubles were sent through the Princess Volkonski, with whom I had several personal conferences, and through whose efforts a large district of Tamboff was cared for. Much attention was given to the Province of Samara, where the famine was at its worst, and where the Russian-German colonies were in great distress. We furnished 45,000 rubles for use there, and a letter to me from Mr. Blessing, who was in general charge of the work in that particular district, says: “Muller and Faidel, his chief agents, have between them saved the cattle and horses in exactly one hundred German colonies and Russian villages. They have established fifty-one soup kitchens, which feed over 12,000 people daily, and they have bought seed for 18,900 acres.”

The same machinery was employed in distributing the cargoes of flour. The legation, with the aid of its auxiliary, determined where and through whom every carload should go. We made up complete lists of consignees, which the special committee of the Emperor approved. The Russian Government furnished the necessary cars, transported the flour without cost, and delivered it to the persons whom we designated. Thus the cargo of the Indiana, sent from Libau in seven trains, all decorated with the Russian and American flags, was despatched in one hundred and eighty-seven cars, apportioned among ten different provinces, and consigned to forty-five different centers or agents of distribution. The cargo of the Missouri, handled in the same way, was sent in two hundred and forty-one cars to thirteen provinces and seventy-five centers. Each agent was notified of the amount sent, and required to make a report of its disposition. Similar plans are being perfected for the coming steamers.

In view of all these arrangements it is believed the American contributors may feel fully assured that their generous gifts have been faithfully applied to the object to which they were consecrated. It only remains to add that these offerings have been cordially received and gratefully appreciated; that they have not only brought great substantial relief, but have done much to promote good feeling between the two nations, and that the thanks of the Emperor, which His Majesty has requested the American minister to make known to the American people, as well as the gratitude also of the Russian people, will be conveyed in suitable form.

I remain, etc.,

Charles Emory Smith.

The American-Russian famine relief fund—sums received and paid through the American legation at St. Petersburg.

Receipts. Rubles. Payments. Rubles.
1891 1891
Dec. —. Congregation B’nai Israel, Sacramento $2,934.50 Dec. —. To relief committee British-American Church $2,000.00
1892 Jewish relief committee 934.50
Feb. 10. Chamber of Commerce, N. Y. 20,400.00 1892
Feb. 11. Massachusetts relief fund 3,321.20 Feb. 12. To relief committee British-American Church 5,000.00
Feb. 13. Chamber of Commerce, N. Y. 25,375.00 Feb. 12 do 3,329.20
Mar. 4. Baltimore relief fund 9,875.00 Feb. 15. To Jewish committee 6,000.00
Mar. 4. Cedar Falls, Iowa, fund 1,033.30 Feb. 16. To relief committee British-American Church 5,000.00
Mar. 7. Chamber of Commerce. N. Y. 9,860.00 Feb. 27 do 20,000.00
Mar. 12. Baltimore fund 9,900.00 Mar. 7. To Jewish committee 5,000.00
Mar. 13. Massachusetts fund 7,914.06 Mar. 12. To relief committee British-American Church 15,000.00
Mar. 15. Mennonite fund 2,057.60 Mar. 16 do 30,000.00
Mar. 16. Philadelphia fund 9,925.00 Mar. 19. To special committee of Czarowitz 13,196.55
Mar. 17. Proceeds Mrs. Butterfield’s concert, N. Y. 13,196.55 Mar.22. To Count Leo Tolstoi 7,000.00
Mar. 18. Through State Department 1,940.91 Mar. 26. To Bishop Antonius Zerr 500.00
Mar. 18. Cleveland fund 3,000.00 Apr. 4. To J. P. Blessing, for Samara 6,951.33
Mar. 22. Philadelphia fund 7,451.33 Apr. 13. To Count Leo Tolstoi 4,020.00
Mar. 25. Cleveland fund 4,020.00 Apr. 16. To relief committee British-American Church 19,800.00
Mar. 31. Walsh-De Roo Milling Co 12.50 Apr. 16. To balance on hand 11,046.37
Apr. 3. Through Department of State 2,521.50
Apr. 12. Balance Butterfield concert 231.50
Apr. 16. Philadelphia fund 19,800.00
154,777.95 154,777.95