Minister Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 114.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the department’s circular dispatch of August 11 ultimo, instructing me to inform the Belgian Government of the appointment of Mr. E. J. Watson as immigration agent of the State of South Carolina and to request for him such courteous facilitation of the purpose of his mission as may be in accordance with the laws of Belgium and due to the official agent of a constituent State of the American Union.

About the date of the receipt of the department’s dispatch I received a telegram from Mr. Watson requesting me to obtain for him an interview with the Belgian minister of foreign affairs. As he failed, however, to state the purpose for which the interview was requested, I did not think it incumbent upon me to take the step without express instructions from the department.

After his arrival here Mr. Watson informed me that he had requested permission from the Belgian Government to be permitted to advance the steamship fares to selected Belgian emigrants to the United States, and that he desired me in my capacity as diplomatic representative of the United States to support his request, stating that the purpose of his mission had the approval of Mr. Sargent, Commissioner of Immigration, and the sympathy of the Government. As, however, I did not construe the department’s circular instruction as authorizing me to lend diplomatic aid in furtherance of the plans of the bureaus of immigration, I declined to identify the legation with the request of Mr. Watson without express instruction from the department. I agreed, however, to ask instructions by cablegram, and on September 8 sent the department the following cablegram:

Watson, commissioner of immigration, South Carolina, has made formal application Belgian Government to be permitted to advance passage money Belgian emigrants. Advances made by State to be repaid by emigrants. Watson states in application that this method has approval of Sargent and Government and has asked me to exert influence with foreign office here. This have refused to do without express instructions from the department. A hurry answer is rquested as 500 emigrants are ready to sail.

To this the department replied September 11 as follows:

Yours of the 8th. Commerce and Labor makes the following reply: “In reply to your letter 9th instant inclosing copy cablegram from minister at Brussels, payment passage of aliens by State agent will not necessarily operate to bring about their rejection, but will place on them the burden of establishing that they are not likely to become public charges. They will be examined, of course, upon arriving at a port of this country under all provisions of law applicable.

As in my cablegram I had suggested the desirability of sending me express instructions on the premises, and as the department’s reply contained simply an interpretation of the immigration law and no express instructions, I felt reluctant to go farther with the affair. I however, promised Mr. Watson to go with him to the department of foreign affairs and request an early decision in the matter which he had submitted for its consideration. I accordingly visited the [Page 67] foreign office yesterday, and he has since informed me that everything has been arranged to his entire satisfaction.

I have, etc.,

Henry Lane Wilson.