Mr. Gresham to Mr. Yang Yü.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 10th instant in regard to the recognition of certificates of identity furnished to the exempt class of Chinese persons entering the United States, and, in reply thereto, to inclose herewith copy of letter of the Secretary of the Treasury of the 20th instant.

I think you will find that the statements in Secretary Carlisle’s letter fully cover the matters to which you directed my attention.

Accept, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.

Mr. Carlisle to Mr. Gresham.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 16th instant, with which was inclosed copy of a note addressed you on the 10th instant by the Chinese minister at this capital, concerning certain regulations of this Department with reference to certificates issued by Chinese consuls and upon which the holders seek admission into the United States.

The complaint of the minister presumably has reference to instructions given to collectors of customs to closely scrutinize certificates from consular officers presented by Chinese persons claiming to be of the exempt class, and before landing such persons to make inquiry as to the truth of the statements set forth in such certificates.

This course became necessary on account of the frequency of instances coming to the knowledge of this Department where Chinese laborers had been admitted upon certificates obtained from the Chinese consul at Havana falsely describing them as merchants, actors, or students. The law relating to certificates of this character does not make them conclusive evidence of the right of the holder to enter the United States, but provides that the facts therein stated may be disproved by the United States authorities. Pursuant to this provision of law and in order to prevent the constant introduction of laborers by means of consular certificates probably obtained from Chinese consul and viséed by the U. S. consul through misrepresentation and perjured testimony, it was decided to verify all certificates where there was any doubt of the true character of the person described therein.

[Page 262]

Although the law provides in express terms that Chinese laborers shall not be permitted to enter the United States, our Government in a spirit of liberality has allowed such persons to pass in transit through our territory. This privilege has been taken advantage of by many Chinese laborers to enter at San Francisco and pass in transit via New Orleans to Cuba. The same persons have then returned to the United States with passports from the Chinese consul at Havana certifying them to be persons of the exempt class. A number of these upon investigation have been excluded. While this action causes more or less delay, it has not, so far as is known, prevented the entry into the United States of any person lawfully entitled to admission.

As an illustration, it may be stated that on the 12th instant two Chinese persons, named, respectively Loui Yon Cai and Lung Wa On, arrived at New York per steamship Seneca, and claimed admission on certificates issued by the Chinese consul at Havana, who certified that the persons referred to were members, respectively, of the Chinese firms of Cheung Wa, No. 909 Race street, Philadelphia, and Yan Sang Tong, No. 22 Mott street, New York. Upon investigation it was ascertained that they were not merchants nor members of the firms named. It was shown that Loui Yon Cai had stated on the voyage from Havana to New York that it was his intention upon landing to establish a Chinese restaurant or a gambling house in that city, and that he had no business connection of any kind in Philadelphia. The other person, Lung Wa On, was without means, was a laborer, and intended to work in a laundry at New York upon arrival there. In these cases certificates were obtained in Havana by one Young Sing and one Chuck Sam upon payment of the sums of $12 and $7, respectively.

You will recall the fact that I have within the past few months, on account of abuses similar to those above described, repeatedly called your attention to the necessity for instructions to the American consul at Havana to more closely scrutinize certificates of the character in question, with a view of ascertaining whether or not the statements made therein are true.

I am not aware of any instances where action has been taken by direction of this Department, or any of its officers charged with the enforcement of the Chinese exclusion acts, which can properly be construed as indicating a disposition to ignore certificates issued by the accredited officers of the Chinese Government, but, as hereinbefore stated, efforts have been and will continue to be made to prevent our laws relating to the exclusion of Chinese being violated by fraudulent practices on the part of persons who have no fight to land in the United States.

I do not doubt that the Chinese minister will concede that this course is a proper one, as I am advised that he has no sympathy with attempts of Chinese persons to enter the United States in violation of our laws.

With reference to that portion of the minister’s note complaining of the conduct of Inspector Scharf, I have the honor to inform you that previous to the receipt of your letter and upon representations made from another source an investigation was ordered. The subject is now under consideration, and if it is found that the inspector has been abusive or has not properly performed his official duties a suitable remedy will be applied.

Respectfully, yours, etc.,

J. G. Carlisle,