Mr. Hay to Mr. McCormick.

No. 127.]

Sir: On the 21st of April last the House of Representatives of the United States adopted a resolution in the following words:

Resolved, That the President be requested to renew negotiations with the governments of countries where discrimination is made between American citizens on the ground of religious faith or belief to secure by treaty or otherwise uniformity of treatment and protection to American citizens holding passports duly issued by the authorities of the United States, in order that all American citizens shall have equal freedom of travel and sojourn in those countries, without regard to race, creed, or religious faith.

The subject to which this resolution relates has heretofore been the occasion of friendly but sincerely earnest representations to the Russian Government on the part of that of the United States. The instructions on file in your office, and the correspondence had by your predecessors with the Imperial foreign office leave no doubt as to the feeling of the Government of the United States in regard to what it has constantly believed to be a needlessly repressive treatment of many of the most reputable and honored citizens of the United States. Similar views have been expressed, by my predecessors as well as by myself, in conferences with the representatives of Russia at this capital. That these friendly representations have not hitherto produced the results so befitting the close intimacy of the relations of the two countries for more than a century and so much in harmony with their traditional amity and mutual regard is not, in the President’s judgment, ground for relaxing endeavors to bring about a better understanding, if only on the score of expediency and reciprocal convenience.

I have therefore to instruct you to inform Count Lamsdorff that the text of the foregoing resolution has been sent to you for your [Page 791] information and for your guidance in interpreting this expression of the feeling of the people of this country, through their direct representatives, as to the treatment of the citizens in question. You will make known to his excellency the views of this Government as to the expediency of putting an end to such discriminations between different classes of American citizens on account of their religious faith when seeking to avail themselves of the common privilege of civilized peoples to visit other friendly countries for business or travel.

That such discriminatory treatment is naturally a matter of much concern to this Government is a proposition which his excellency will readily comprehend without dissent. In no other country in the world is a class discrimination applied to our visiting citizens. That the benefits accruing to Russia are sufficient to counterbalance the inconveniences involved is open to question from the practical standpoint. In the view of the President it is not easy to discern the compensating advantage to the Russian Government in the exclusion of a class of tourists and men of business, whose character and position in life are such as to afford in most cases a guarantee against any abuse of the hospitality of Russia and whose intelligence and sterling moral qualities fit them to be typical representatives of our people and entitle them to win for themselves abroad no less degree of esteem than they enjoy in their own land.

I have, etc.,

John Hay.