Ambassador White to the Secretary of State.
Rome , August 31, 1905 .
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I recently had a conversation with the parliamentary under secretary for foreign affairs on the subject of Italian emigration from this country to the United States.
He said that the Italian Government is very anxious to do what it can to further our views as to the desirability and advantages of turning the tide of emigrants from the large cities to the rural districts of our country, and, in order to see what is possible toward the attainment of that end, the Italian consul at New Orleans, who is now at home on leave of absence, has been instructed upon returning to his post to proceed to Texas, which seems to this government on the whole the most favorable part of the United States in which to make a beginning, to investigate labor conditions in that state and to report whether Italian emigrants, if advised to go there, can be sure of finding employment, and, in fact, whether any arrangements can be made for furnishing them with work upon their arrival.
The under secretary added, however, that he fears very little can be done in the matter, in view of our statute prohibiting the entrance into the United States of foreign laborers under an engagement to do work upon their arrival, known as the “contract labor law,” [Page 569] unless our government can see their way to interpreting it favorably in respect to Italian emigrants bound to our rural districts.
I said to him in reply that as far as I remembered the act of Congress in question, of which I have no copy here, but I frequently had occasion to read it when at the London embassy, I thought its terms were very precise and that no such interpretation by our government as he suggested would be possible; but that I should not fail to report to you what he had said and I felt sure in any case that the President and you would be gratified to know that this government is giving the question of turning Italian emigration from our cities to the rural districts its serious attention.
I have, etc.,