Mr. Adee to Mr. Breckinridge.

No. 107.]

Sir: I have received your No. 116, of the 24th ultimo, giving the correspondence between yourself and the Russian foreign office on the subject of the viséing by Russian consuls in this country of passports issued to American citizens of Jewish faith. Your presentation of this Government’s view of that question meets with the approval of this Department.

Apart from the constitutional objections to the discrimination made by Russian consular officers against American Jews, this Government can never consent that a class embracing many of its most honored and valuable citizens shall within its own territory be subjected to invidious and disparaging distinctions of the character implied in refusing to visé their passports. For, notwithstanding Prince Lobanow’s suggestion that his Government’s consular regulation upon the subject under consideration does not apply to all Israelites and therefore can not be regarded as a discrimination against them on religious grounds, the fact remains that the interrogatories propounded to applicants for the consular visé relate to religious faith, and upon the response depends the consul’s actions.

Viewed in the light of an invidious discrimination tending to discredit and humiliate American Jews in the eyes of their fellow-citizens, it is plain that the action of Russian consular officers does produce its effect within American territory, and not exclusively in Russian jurisdiction.

But the Russian discrimination against American Jews is not confined simply to the matter of viséing passports. This Department was informed a few years since by the Russian minister here that Russian [Page 1068] consuls in this country would refuse authentication to legal documents for use in Russia when Jews are ascertained to be interested. This is not merely an unjust and invidious discrimination against Jews, but would seem to be plainly a violation of the spirit of Article X of the treaty of 1832 between this country and Russia in respect of the property rights of American citizens in that country.

Since you have received my instruction No. 92 of July 5, you may incorporate the substance of that, together with the views herein expressed, in your next note to the Russian Government upon this subject. The text of the Russian law, of which you have very properly requested a copy, is awaited with interest here, but it is not deemed probable that the question, viewed in the light in which I have just considered it, will be affected by any municipal legislation of the Empire.

I am, etc.,

Alyey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.