Mr. White to Mr. Gresham.
St. Petersburg, May 12, 1893. (Received June 1.)
Sir: As the Department has been already informed, the famine in Russia, though not so extended as last year, has been in some governments very severe and, in a few, even more distressing than ever before.
It was in view of reports regarding this state of things that the honorable E. S. Stuart, mayor of Philadelphia, wrote me soon after my arrival, requesting more exact information and suggesting that in case of need aid might be sent from America.
I found that there was a preliminary question of some delicacy to be settled before answering his letter; the Russian Government has naturally its own national pride, and confidence in its own resources, and anything that might look like a request for aid on the part of that Government from another would naturally meet harsh criticism.
I found some sensitiveness existing on this point, but when the whole matter was placed on the ground of simple charity from American citizens to their fellow men who were suffering from the famine in Russia, that difficulty was disposed of.
After examining carefully into the condition of things, and especially after a report to me made by our consul-general regarding the state of things in Finland, I informed Mr. Stuart of the great distress existing in the afflicted districts.
Thereupon he placed at my disposal a contribution, mainly, if not wholly, made by charitable citizens of Pennsylvania, amounting very nearly to 41,000 roubles.
I immediately summoned to my aid a committee composed of the consul-general, Dr. Crawford, Count André Bobrinskoy, and the Rev. Mr. Francis, pastor of the British-American church here, each of whom during the past year had visited some part of the famine-striken districts and had familiarized himself with the distribution of relief.
This committee held stated meetings at the legation under my chairmanship, and has proved to be of the greatest use.
While large sums have been distributed by the Government, there can be no doubt that this sum sent from Philadelphia has prevented much suffering, and even saved many precious lives.
The above sum having now been fully distributed, I have rendered an account of the same to Mr. Stuart, and the whole matter is closed, at least for the present; but as it seems to me that there should be some record of the whole matter in the Department, I send you this statement, inclosing a copy of my letter to Mr. Stuart on the subject.
It is perhaps proper to say that I have steadily, from first to last, taken pains to have it understood that I was not acting at all in an official capacity in this matter, but as an American citizen happy to be an intermediary between his charitable fellow-citizens in America and his distressed fellow beings in Russia.
It gives me pleasure to add that I have been requested both by the Emperor and the Grand Duke, heir to the throne, to convey their thanks to the donors of the sum herein referred to.
I am, sir,