File No. 18253/18.
The Italian Chargé to the Secretary of State.
Washington, March 21, 1910.
Mr. Secretary of State: In compliance with your excellency’s request, made through Mr. Huntington Wilson, I have the honor to state herein below the proposals submitted by the King’s Government to that of the United States for the recognition of the rights of Italian victims of accidents in the State of Pennsylvania and of the heirs which, in the opinion of the King’s overnment, are undoubtedly conferred upon them by the Italo-American treaty of commerce [Page 663] and navigation of 1871, and have been denied by the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Maiorano v. the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
The laws of Pennsylvania of 1851 and 1855 do not include the family of a victim of an accident, even though it should reside outside of the State territory, from the right to bringing suits on account of the accident. This is a matter of true and actual right of inheritance. A denial of that right is not only repugnant to every principle of equity and humanity and would, to a certain extent, induce the industrial establishments to be less careful in protecting the lives of their Italian laborers, but it is contrary to the provisions of our treaty. Italy, where no distinction is made in cases of accident between claimants residing in the Kingdom and those residing abroad, has covenanted with the United States a treaty which guarantees to its citizens the fullest protection in their persons and property, and consequently the liberty of bringing before the courts the pleas and actions which flow from that title. Hence it can not recognize the right of local tribunals to distort and modify the meaning and import of the provisions contained in the treaty itself. The Department of State has itself admitted that it was really the intention of the two contracting parties in concluding the treaty to extend to Italians in the United States the rights enjoyed by American citizens (memorandum of the State Department of Nov. 4, 1909, and of Jan., 1910) in the same manner, anyway, as citizens of the United States have at all times and indiscriminately been accorded equal treatment with the nations of the Kingdom.
As a remedy to the condition of affairs resulting from the judgments rendered in the Maiorano case, which condition is contrary to the letter and spirit of the treaty, the King’s Government proposes: Either an additional agreement under which it will be made clear that according to the interpolation indisputably put upon article 3 of the treaty of 1871 by the King’s Government, action on account of accidents is open to the relatives of the deceased Italian, even though they may not reside within the territory of the United States, so that no doubt can any longer be entertained by the judicial authorities as to the scope of the said article.
Or an arbitration, as provided by the existing Italo-American convention, for an examination and solution of the controversy born of the Maiorano case.
Inasmuch as the Department of State has already declared in its memorandum of January 12 that it considered the first of these proposals as inadvisable, I would not revert to the subject did I not feel myself authorized by what Mr. Huntington Wilson told me to beg anew your excellency will with your habitual courtesy and well-known benevolence reconsider again the decision that has been reached in the matter.
I have the honor to have recourse to your excellency’s extreme courtesy and to pray that you will be pleased to acquaint me, as soon as it shall have been determined, with the Federal Government’s sentiment in regard to the two propositions above indicated, and I embrace this opportunity, etc.,