The Acting Secretary of State to the Italian Chargé.

No. 381.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 5th instant, referring further to the wrongs alleged to have been inflicted on certain Italian laborers by their employing company in North Carolina.

In reply I have the honor to say that the department will transmit to your embassy any information in regard to the steps which may be taken in the premises looking toward the abatement of the alleged evils in question, and any new information it receives in regard to the treatment of Italian laborers. In this connection, and in further reply to your notes of June 20 and June 26 last, I forward a copy of a letter from the governor of Virginia in regard to alleged occurrences at Marion, Va.

Accept, etc.,

Robert Bacon.

The Governor of Virginia to the Secretary of State.

Sir: Replying further to your communication of June 30 in regard to the two notes from the Italian chargé d’affaires at Washington, complaining of the treatment of Italian laborers by the Spruce Pine Carolina Company, etc., I beg leave to inform you that I communicated at once with Hon. F. B. Hutton, judge of the circuit in which Marion, Va., is located, and I herewith inclose you a copy of Judge Hutton’s letter to me. Possibly the matter complained of may have occurred at Marion, N. C, instead of Marion, Va. If such is the case, then it is a matter for consideration by the authorities of the State of North Carolina and not by the authorities of the State of Virginia. With consideration of high esteem, I am, respectfully, yours,

Claude A. Swanson,
Governor of Virginia.

Mr. Hutton to the Governor of Virginia.

My Dear Governor: Yours inclosing a letter from the Secretary of State, Hon. Elihu Root, with two notes from the Italian chargé d’affaires at Washington, requesting that I investigate and report to you an alleged killing of [Page 928] two Italians, the wounding of five others at or near Marion, Smyth County, Va., and the imprisonment in jail at Marion of nine more Italians, has been received.

I was greatly surprised to learn from the inclosure that a bloody row had occurred at Marion on the 14th day of last May, in which two Italians were killed, five wounded, and nine additional ones imprisoned. I held a special term of court in Marion on June 11, and while there asked the commonwealth’s attorney if he desired a special grand jury for any purpose, to which he replied that he did not, as there was no one in jail in that county at that time; that all persons who were charged with any offense were on bail. I therefore was of the opinion that no such occurrence as is described in the notes of the Italian chargé d’affaires took place; but upon the receipt of your letter, I immediately phoned the sheriff of Smyth County, W. M. McGee, esq., and asked him in reference to it, and he replied that there was no person in jail at all in Smyth County, except one negro, who had been recently committed by a magistrate to await the action of the grand jury on a charge of larceny, and that no Italians had ever been killed, wounded, or imprisoned in his county since he had been sheriff. I therefore am pleased to report to you that no such transaction took place in Smyth County, or at any other point in my circuit. The whole thing seems to be a mistake as to locality.

There is no such company as the Spruce Pine Carolina Company constructing a railroad at any point within my circuit. The South and Western Railroad does not touch the county of Smyth at any point, and there was no bloody row at or near Marion, Va., of any kind, much less of the character described in the notes inclosed me by you.

The South and Western Railroad comes into Virginia west of my circuit, and the Clinchport section is in Scott County, now in the circuit of Judge William E. Burns, of Lebanon, Va. I have, however, heard nothing of any killing of Italians at that point. There certainly has been none in my circuit, either on the 14th day of May or at any other time since I have been on the bench.

I assure you that I am as anxious as you are that “the laws of Virginia should be fully respected, both of Americans and Italians, and each accorded justice and their rights respected.”

I phoned the sheriff, as stated, with the view of calling a special grand jury at once to investigate the matter, had there been any foundation in fact for the allegations in the communications inclosed by you. It may be Marion, N. C, instead of Marion, Va., to which the notes refer. I herewith return to you the letter of the Secretary of State and the notes of the Italian chargé d’affaires at Washington.

Yours, respectfully,

F. B. Hutton
Judge of the Twenty-third Circuit.