Mr. White to Mr. Gresham.

No. 96.]

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,

Andrew D. White.
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[Inclosure in No. 96.]

Mr. White to Mr. Stuart.

Sir: I have delayed reporting upon the distribution of the Philadelphia relief fund until I could give full details.

Immediately after receiving it I called upon the persons especially recommended to me as officials of the highest character in possession of the widest and most accurate information, and who had last year taken an especial interest in the relief of the Empire—Count Worantzoff-Dashkoff, the minister of the Imperial household, and Mr De Pleve, assistant minister in the department of finance.

From these I received lists of persons whose statements could be confided in and who could be relied on to do effective work in distribution.

I then formed a small committee to aid me in the practical work of securing information as to where the need of aid was most pressing and the methods of bringing it to hear upon the districts selected.

These three gentlemen were the consul-general of the United States, Mr. Crawford, Count André Bobrinskoy, and the Rev. Mr. Francis, pastor of the British-American chapel in this city. Each of these gentlemen was familiar with all that had been done last year, each had visited some of the most afflicted districts, and all enjoy the highest confidence of all who know them.

I had hoped to have from the beginning the aid of Mr. J. P. Blessig, who proved himself so faithful and capable last year. Unfortunately he did not arrive in St. Petersburg until after the committee had been several weeks at work, but he gave us the benefit of his advice, meeting with us frequently.

The meetings of the committee have been held on Tuesday morning of each week, at the legation, and, when needed, at other times.

Acting upon the general lines recommended by the Philadelphia committee, I decided to make a distribution of a considerable proportion of the sum to each of the three parts of the country specially named in your letter, namely, Finland, the Volga governments, and Bessarabia; but on looking over the matter carefully it seemed best neither to divide the whole sum into three equal parts nor indeed to give to the three equal amounts. It will be observed by the receipts which I inclose that 10,000 roubles were given to Finland. This was with the advice and consent of the committee after a careful report by Consul-General Crawford, who visited Finland and made careful investigations as to the best course to be taken. The sum was paid over to Gen. Von Daehm, the representative of Finland at St. Petersburg, whose receipt you will find inclosed, as also a letter from him stating that the Emperor requested him to convey through me his sincere thanks to the donors.

As to Bessarabia, the committee had before them the Rev. Provost Faltin, of Vischenen, well known to Mr. Blessig, who made a very careful statement, but in view of the pressing demands of other parts of the Empire, it was decided to give to Bessarabia 6,000 roubles in two instalments. For this I also forward receipt.

As to the Volga governments, considerable sums were placed in the hands of Counts Vladimir and André Bobrinskoy and Mr. Pissoreff, the gentlemen especially named in your communication.

The remaining sum has been distributed in various parts of the country in accordance with information derived from personal interviews and letters from trustworthy persons.

At the outset the committee passed various rules, of which the two following are perhaps the most noteworty: First, no aid shall he distributed except to persons who have already shown their fidelity and capacity, and who have already in existence an organization and arrangements for effective distribution.

This was in order to prevent the waste of money in setting up new soup kitchens, baking ovens, etc.

The second of these rules was, no discrimination as to race or creed shall be made in the distribution; it shall be made to Jews and Christians without distinction.

It will be observed that there are no vouchers for expenses of machinery of any sort. The bills for printing of blanks, for postage, etc., have been borne by Count André Bobrinskoy, who has shown the greatest zeal in the matter, as have also his colleagues, the Consul-General Crawford, and the Rev. Mr. Francis.

Pains were taken to make every rouble go as far as possible; in a very few cases small sums were given to needy and meritorious families in temporary distress, but, as a rule, the distribution was made to persons actually at work in famine-stricken districts.

Thanks to the energetic and enlightened efforts of the committee of the three gentlemen above named, the donors can enjoy the conviction that their gifts have been bestowed as carefully as it was in human power to bestow them.

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As to the recognition of the whole noble gift from Philadelphia, in addition to that by the Emperor, above referred to, the Grand Duke Nicholas, the heir to the throne, expressed his thanks, and various leading newspapers have spoken in most hearty terms regarding the American action in the premises.

Allow me, then, to tender to you and to your associates once more the thanks of all the persons above named, who are naturally deeply interested in the welfare of the country, and with them the thanks of a very large number of people who have been rescued from distress, and, indeed, of some who have certainly been saved from death by your noble efforts and gifts.

I am, etc.,

Andrew D. White.