Mr. Adee to Mr. Peirce.

No. 92.]

Sir: I have received your No. 91, of the 13th ultimo, reporting your interviews at the Russian foreign office in the matter of the refusal of Russian consular officers in the United States to visé the passports issued by this Government to its citizens of Jewish faith.

Your conclusion that it is inexpedient to press the complaint to a formal answer at present appears to be discreet, but the Department must express its deep regret that you have encountered in the foreign office a reluctance to consider the matter in the light in which this Government has presented it. The Russian Government can not expect that its course in asserting inquisitorial authority in the United States over citizens of the United States as to their religious or civil status can ever be acceptable or even tolerable to such a Government as ours, [Page 1060] and continuance in such a course after our views have been clearly but considerately made known may trench upon the just limits of consideration.

I must, however, caution you against any suggestion of retaliatory or resentful action on our part. A due sense of national dignity constrains this Government to avoid all appearance of a minatory policy in its dealings with other powers. In this matter, especially, it is to be borne in mind that each Government is the judge, for itself, of the extent to which foreign consuls may be permitted to act under their own laws within its territories, and that such permission is determined by the corresponding exequatur.

The United States conspicuously illustrate their convictions on this subject in respect to their own consuls. The customs laws of the United States require the administration of a consular oath to exporters presenting manifests of goods for certification; but upon the representation of certain European Governments, among them Great Britain and Germany, that the administration of such oath by a foreign consul to a subject of the country is an invasion of the judicial independence thereof, our consuls have been enjoined to refrain from the act complained of in all cases affecting a subject of a sovereign of the country where they reside. It might, however, have been deemed entirely competent for the Governments of Great Britain and Germany to insert in the consular exequatur an express inhibition of the obnoxious act.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.