Mr. Uhl to Mr. Denby, chargé.

No. 884.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of the minister’s dispatch No. 1794, of January 24, 1894, by which it appears that the Tsung-li-Yamên has requested him to instruct the U. S. consuls at the various ports in China to prohibit United States vessels from transporting coolies to Brazil. Mr. Denby’s reply states that the laws of this country prohibit, under heavy penalties, the use of American vessels (except where the emigration is voluntary, and the consul must so certify) for the transportation of coolies from China or any other other place, to be held to service or labor in any other country. Mr. Denby added that the attention of the consuls would be called to the law and they directed to enforce it.

The minister’s dispatch has been examined with care. Sections 2158 to 2102 of the Revised Statutes, taken in conjunction with subsequent legislation restricting Chinese immigration to the United States, clearly support the opinion that the subsequent legislation does not affect the operation of the sections named upon the coolie trade, carried on by American citizens or in American vessels between China and other foreign countries.

Mr. Denby’s note to the Chinese foreign office of January 23, 1894, is accordingly approved.

A copy of Mr. Denby’s dispatch was transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, with this Department’s opinion substantially as herein set forth, for an expression of its views; but a reply from the Acting Secretary of the 17th instant only forwarded one from the Attorney-General, whose conclusion is as follows:

As it does not appear that any question has arisen in the administration of the Department of the Treasury involving the legal validity or invalidity of the result reached by the Department of State as above set forth, I [Mr. Olney] am not at liberty to give an opinion on the subject.

The misleading note on page 109 of the Consular Regulations of 1888, to which Mr. Denby refers, will be omitted in the future editions of that volume and specific instructions on the subject given to the consuls, as was done in the edition of 1881.

I am, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl,
Acting Secretary.