Ambassador Storer to the Secretary of State.
Vienna, July 30, 1905.
Sir: I have the honor to report that I have received from the I. and R. foreign office a communication giving the views and decision of the Hungarian Government on the subject of its control of emigration from that country, as well as its explanations of sundry of the frequent complaints of the rigorous and arbitrary treatment accorded by the functionaries of that government to persons seeking to emigrate. This communication seems of such importance that I beg to inclose a copy and a translation for the careful perusal and subsequent instructions of the Department.[Page 55]
As will be seen, this letter discusses on principle the right or the Hungarian Government to carry out its own internal laws and regulations with regard to its own citizens—both those who leave the country for the first time, and that numerous class who have already in the past gone to America, have come back for a longer or shorter period to their native country without having acquired legal American citizenship, and who wish to go to America a second time.
The laws and governmental decrees and regulations of Hungary on this subject have been long since transmitted to the Department by me, and afford in complete detail the basis of the present attitude of the government of that country toward its own citizens.
It will be observed that, so far as all emigrants of Hungarian nationality are concerned, the Hungarian Government will not allow its right as an independent country to make such arrangements as will necessarily and avowedly give rise to a complete monopoly of this traffic to be called into question, and will, with all the official and police influence in its power, enforce that monopoly. The fusion of interests between the Hungarian Government and the Cunard company to the exclusion of all competing vessels, to which I have so often referred, remains complete, and, to judge from the instructions of the Department at the instance of the American Line and Red Star Line, is becoming effective.
It will also be observed that the Hungarian Government asserts that it has repeatedly and in the strongest terms instructed all its officers and all the magistracy of that Kingdom to maintain the utmost care not to molest or interfere with persons desiring to emigrate who are not Hungarian citizens, and to pay the utmost respect to treaty rights.
This is undoubtedly the fact, but it is to be presumed, for reasons already given the Department at different times—for instance, in my No. 186 of the 29th of November, 1904a—that such instructions are largely disregarded; at least that if there be the slightest question in any case, it will always by the officials and police be resolved in favor of the government and the Cunard company.
The remarks of the Hungarian Government tending to explain the difficulty of investigation and identification by its officers of persons who display documentary evidence tending to show rights of American citizenship, arising from manifold differences of language, have a substantial basis of truth. A large proportion of cases arising on applications for passports, or on complaint and demand for protection, show inaccuracies and differences in name and spelling most liable to mislead and often giving rise to grave suspicion. It has occurred that a former passport contained the alleged name of the bearer spelled in one way, his naturalization paper spelling it in another, while the new application spells and writes it still in a third. Quite often these signatures are in quite dissimilar handwriting, and the names otherwise distorted.
Attention, it will be seen, is also called by the Hungarian Government to the variety in form and wording of the various official documents relied on to prove American citizenship. The Department will remember the various changes in minor details in the form and decoration of passports in past years. From what I have had submitted [Page 56] on applications for passports made to me during the last eight years, it is my opinion that no two States of the Union have any identical form of certificate of citizenship, and in many cases the same form is not used in all counties in the same State, or even all courts of the same county. The substance and effect of the law may be there expressed, but the varieties of wording and expression, of general appearance, of armorial decoration, and seals are often enough to cast a doubt as to the genuineness of the certificate even in the mind of an English-speaking official. I have no doubt that this excuse for misunderstanding and delay in many cases is a sincere and justifiable one, and in such cases the penalty must be borne by the person who seeks to prove his American citizenship.
Taking up the individual cases alluded to by the Hungarian Government, I beg to say that the letters of complaint of the embassy spoken of as addressed to the foreign office “as my letters Nos. 128, 131, and 149” were written in January, 1905, under the instructions of the Department. * * *
I have, etc.,