Mr. McCormick to Mr. Hay.

No. 146.]

Sir: I have the honor to call the Department’s attention to the inclosed application for a passport of one Michael Silberkasten, whose inability to give the name of the ship on which he sailed on March 25, 1904, led me to suspect the truth of his statement that he had lost his passport, which he claimed to have received in March in Boston, and either disposed of it to some Russian wishing to leave the country or had perhaps come by the certificate of naturalization on which his application was based through some fraudulent channel. On the strength of my suspicion I telegraphed the Department on May 9 and received reply which convinced me that Silberkasten had never had a passport and led me to write to Mr. Slocum instructing him to closely cross-question the applicant as to his residence in the United States and his naturalization as sworn to in his application. This cross-questioning resulted in Silberkasten’s breaking down and confessing that he had never had a passport and that he had purchased [Page 779] the certificate of naturalization, which I also inclose herewith, for the sum of $2, it having been offered to him originally for $7. He further stated that this transaction took place in the Boston City Hall. I also inclose a copy of Mr. Slocum’s letter giving details about Silberkasten, according to which he left Warsaw, the place of his birth, on October 10, 1900, without giving his new address and, according to the statement of the care taker of the house where Silberkasten lodged, it was at this time that the latter left for the United States, as the care taker had been told that Silberkasten had spent three years there. The investigation further developed the fact that on August 8, 1903, Silberkasten returned to Warsaw registering himself as a permanent resident and producing, to accomplish this registration, the usual local Russian passport, which is presumably now in his possession.

I inclose the certificate of naturalization with the above statement in order that the Department may cause an investigation to be made as to the issue of the certificate and whether or not it is genuine.

I have, etc.,

Robert S. McCormick.

Mr. Slocum to Mr. McCormick.

Sir: I have to acknowledge receipt of the embassy’s communications in the matter of Michael Silberkasten, dated May 11 and 14, respectively.

In this matter I have to report as follows, and incidentally to thank the embassy for preventing what would, it now appears, have been a clear case of fraud.

Upon advice from the embassy that no passport had been issued in the name of Michael Silberkasten within the last eighteen months, after some delay Mr. Silberkasten’s presence at the consulate was obtained.

After a good deal of bluster, he finally broke down and confessed that he had never had a passport.

It is superfluous to mention the various excuses the man gave for making the misstatement.

Urging upon him the necessity of at last speaking the truth in regard to the naturalization certificate, he proceeded to maintain that it is his property and was issued to him as stated, with, however, the additional information that it had first been offered to him for $7 but finally obtained for $2. This transaction took place in the Boston City Hall, so he alleges.

Being, of course, dissatisfied with this state of affairs, I had recourse to the books of the lodging at Twarda 12, where he resides with his father. The record stands as follows:

“Michael, son of Hersh Silberkasten, Twarda 12, apartment 42, living with his father, born 1878 at Warsaw, permanent residence. October 10, 1900, was reported to the police as having left Twarda 12 without giving his new address.”

The caretaker of the property (Uprawliajusxcozij) told me that it was at this time that he left for America, as he had been told that Silberkasten had spent three years there.

The book bears witness again to the fact that on August 8, 1903, Silberkasten again became registered as a permanent resident of Warsaw, offering for such purpose his usual local passport (Russian), which is presumably now in his possession. * * *

May I ask, is it the intention of the embassy to return the certificate to Mr. Silberkasten?

It seems to me this would only give him an opportunity to repeat the operation elsewhere, under perhaps more favorable conditions.

I have, etc.,

Clarence Rice Slocum.