Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the session of 1835-6, than the adoption of the following resolution by the Senate :

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to cause to be collected and laid before the Senate, at its next session, all such facts and information as can be obtained through the Custom House, or from other sources, respecting the deportation of paupers from Great Britain and other places; ascertained, as nearly as possible, to what countries such persons are sent, where landed, and what provision, if any, is made for their future support.

During the summer of 1837, the City Councils of Boston made some effort to arrest the growing evil, and, among other things, directed the then Mayor to confer with other municipal authorities on the subject, with a view of effecting their co-operation in memorializing Congress for some remedial legislation, which he did, as may be seen in Niles' Register, vol. lv. p. 46. In Baltimore, the same evil was experienced to an alarming extent at the same period. A ship load of Hessian convicts, 260 in number, were brought into port, with manacles and fetters remaining on their hands and feet until within the day of their arrival. General Smith, then Mayor, on discovering the character of the passengers, detained the vessel at Fort McHenry until he could communicate with the United States authorities at Washington, but he was informed, on inquiry, that there was no remedy, and so he had to permit the convicts to be landed, and turned loose to prey upon society. See Niles' Register, vol. lv. p. 44. At Newark, N. J., the City Councils also had their attention called to the subject. About this time, a gross violation of the Quarantine laws was perpetrated by the master of the British ship Lockwoods, who landed his pauper passengers at Amboy and went to sea; and still more of the same class were then about arriving or being landed, as appears from the following communications. See Niles' Register, vol. lii. pp. 250, 259, 265 :

Quarantine, June 2, 1837. DEAR SIR-I have just learned that the following British ships are now on their way here, with orders to land their passengers at Amboy, viz.: Phæbe, with 325 passengers; Sherbrook, with 202; Harriet, with 246: 773 paupers—to be sent into our city.

Yours respectfully,

WILLIAM ROCKWOOD,

Health Officer. AARON CLARK, Esq.

Mayor's Office, New York, June 5, 1837. GENTLEMEN OF THE Common Council-The laws of this. State require that the captain of every ship or vessel, landing passengers in this city from a foreign country, or from another State, shall report the name, last legal settlement, place of birth, age or occupation of such passenger, to the Mayor of the city, within twenty-four hours after arrival, under a penalty of $75 for each passenger so neglected to be reported: and that every person not being a citizen of the United States, coming to this city with the intention to reside, shall report himself to the Mayor within twenty-four hours after arrival, under a penalty of $100 for neglecting to do so.

The opinion is entertained that there is a settled arrangement in some parts of Europe to send their famishing hordes to our city. The operations of certain companies have been noticed. But contractors are becoming so covetous that they afflict this country with a pauper population in consideration of receiving from steerage passengers moro than $2 per head extra, for agreeing to land them in New York; instead of which these traders in foreign paupers secretly clear their vessels for Amboy, in New Jersey, there to land the said passengers, and thereafter send them to New York by other conveyance, or leave them to provide for themselves. Our city is generally the place to which they contract to be carried on leaving Liverpool.

This business is likely to be fiercely driven throughout the ensuing year. Hundreds of thousands of the population of portions of Europe are in a state of poverty, excitement and wretchedness—the prospect before them very discouraging. The old country has more people than it is convenient to support. And although many of them feel no particular anxiety to leave their native land, they see others depart—they read the mixture of truth and fiction, published by those employed to obtain passengers—they are assured they can easily return if they are not suited with the country—that certain employment, enormously high wages, and almost sure wealth await them. The times being more unpromising in other countries than in our own, they imagine they cannot change for the worse, and hither they come. They cannot fail to be an intolerable

. burthen to us. As soon as they arrive within our limits, many of them begin to suffer and to beg. Some of those by the “ Lockwoods” commenced as mendicants on the first day they saw our city, and some of them on the first night thereafter sought the watchhouse for a shelter ; others solicited aid at the Commissioners' office, and not a few at the Mayor's residence. Nearly 2,000 arrive each week, and it is not likely that many months will elapse before the number per week will be 3,000. In the Boreas, which came in on Saturday, there were about 150 steerage passengers. They were landed . from a lighter, near the foot of Rector street, at 10 A. M., on Sunday. Some of them declared they had not means to obtain one day's storage for a chest.

Our streets are filled with the wandering crowds of these passengers-clustering in our city—unacquainted with our climate-without money-without employmentwithout friends—many not speaking our language and without any dependence for food, or raiment, or fireside certain of nothing but hardship and a grave; and to be viewed, of course, with no very ardent sympathy by those native citizens whose immediate ancestors were the saviours of the country in its greatest peril. Besides, many of them scorn to hold opinions in harmony with the true spirit of our government. They drive our native workmen into exile, where they must war again with the savago of the wilderness—encounter again the tomahawk and scalping knife—and meet death beyond the regions of civilization and of home. It is apprehended they will bring disease among us; and if they have it not with them on arrival, they may generate a plague by collecting in crowds within small tenements and foul hovels. What is to become of them ? is a question of serious import. Our whole alms-house department is so full that no more can be received there without manifest hazard to the health of evcry inmate. Petitions signed by hundreds, asking for work, are presented in vain. Private associations for relief are almost wholly without funds. Thousands must therefore wander to and fro on the face of the earth—filling every part of our once happy land with squalid poverty and with profligacy.

By Chapter 56, Section 16, of the laws and ordinances of the city of New York, it is enacted, that in all cases where the Mayor shall deem it expedient to commute for alien passengers arriving at this port, instead of requiring indemnity bonds, he is authorized to receive such sum, in lieu of such bonds, as he shall deem adequate, not less than one dollar and not more than ten dollars, for each passenger. I deem it my duty to inform the Common Council, that it is my intention, hereafter, in all cases where it would not be unreasonable, to require and demand ten dollars for such commutation, from each alien passenger. And on advising with the Commissioners of the almshouse as to this intention, I am authorized to say that they approve and unite with me in it; and I am bound to believe that it will receive the sanction of the public. Our city should not, whenever it can be avoided, receive more persons likely to become chargeable. It will be a herculean task to employ and take care of those who are already within our jurisdiction. Our funds appropriated for 'charitable purposes promise no uverplus. Provisions, fuel, and clothing for the alms-house, are still very expensive.

Laborers are not sought after, and while we pity the griefs and sorrows of all our fellow-creatures, we cannot deny that a preference, in the distribution of charities, as well as place and employment, is due to the descendants of the soldiers of the Revolution, and to the heroes and sufferers of the second war of independence. It was asked by the fathers of American liberty. It has been promised to their sons. It cannot be conceded to aliens without great indignity to our native and adopted citizens; and if foreign paupers and vagrants come here for political purposes, it is proof irresistible " that our naturalization laws ought to be immediately revised,” and the term of residence greatly extended to qualify them to vote or hold office. Many are, I admit, orderly, well-disposed men-but many of them are of the opposite character. It is believed the action of the Common Council in the premises is particularly desirable. Our citizens had no serious turn-outs-no riotous parades-no conspiracies against the business and families of quiet, industrious and honest American operatives, until after officious interference by mischievous strangers, and it is melancholy to observe, that, in the mad career of some of these foreigners to destroy our happy system, they have lately recommended to a large meeting of our citizens that they should carry with them deadly weapons, of various kinds, to all our future public assemblages. These wild strangers should learn that to do so, is not a peaceably” to assemble, as provided by the Constitution. Indeed, a reason for taking proper measures to diminish the number of arrivals, is drawn from the fact that, in addition to the great and grievous expense they would add to the city, should they continue to be numerously thrown upon us, the Common Council will be called upon to provide an armed and a mounted police for both day and night time. Peace cannot be otherwise expected. Many of them come from places where nothing less secures tranquillity.

AARON CLARK.

[graphic]

The committee on laws, to whom was referred the message of his honor the Mayor, relative to the Quarantine laws and alien passengers, beg leave to report in part—That its members have felt a deep interest in the very important matters which the Mayor has so promptly, in the discharge of his official functions, brought before the notice of this board; that upon a proper and discreet settlement of the interesting questions submitted in the communication, depend the peace, prosperity, and good order of this city.

[graphic]

On the 30th of April, 1838, Mr. Russell, of New York, submitted the following in the House of Representatives of the United States, which was adopted :

Resolved, that the President of the United States be requested to communicate to this House copies of all correspondence and communications whicn have passed between this and any foreign governments, and the officers and agents thereof, relating to the introduction of foreign paupers into the United States ; also, what steps, if any, have been taken, to prevent the introduction of such paupers into the United States; provided such communication is not incompatible with the interests of the United States.

In reply to this request, President Van Buren forwarded the following among a number of other documents, to Congress. See Niles' Register vol. lv. p. 44:

MR. HARRISON TO MR. LIVINGSTON. (EXTRACTS.)

Consulate of the United States, Kingston, Jamaica, June 28th, 1831. SIR: I do myself the honor to inform you that I was called upon yesterday by most of the masters and supercargoes of American vessels now in this port, who complained of a law which obliges all foreign vessels under one hundred tons to take a pauper (or such other person that it may be desirable to get rid of) on board, and carry him or them off the island; and those above that size, one for every hundred tons burden, at the rate of $10 each, under a penalty of £100 currency or $300.

It appears when a pauper wishes to leave the island, it is only necessary to select the vessel he is desirous to go in; he then accompanies the officer charged with the execution of the law in question to the consignee, to whom the $10 is tendered for the men's passage, and, if refused, the fine is then inflicted. *

* I have no means, while I remain unauthorized to act in an official character, to ascertain the number of persons who have been thus clandestinely introduced into the United States; but I am infornied that there are now about one hundred in the hospital at Kingston alone, and as there are scarcely any other foreigners trading to the colony but Americans, the greater part of those people will find their way to the United States in the manner already described

to you

Consulate of the United States, District of Kingston-upon-Hull-Teeds, Aug 30, 1836.

SIR:—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the 7th of July, requesting information as to the deportation of paupers from Great Britain, &c.

I have in consequence been making particular inquiries on the subject throughout my consular district. I find that no list that can be relied on of passengers sailing from Hull, is kept at the custom house, which distinguishes the paupers from those of a better class. Regular muster rolls are kept, but the parties are merely described by their names, ages, and from whence they come, and occupation.

The officers of the customs are well aware that paupers do proceed both to the United States and Canada; and it has been admitted by the owners of several vessels sailing there, that their passengers are paid by the overseers of the parishes to which they belong. The mode of doing this varies according to the trustworthiness of the pauper: if good, he is trusted to make his own bargain, and generally has a trifle of money advanced to him for use when he quits the vessel, to enable him to get up the country. If the man is a bad character, he is generally the best off, as the overseers pay his passage money and procure for him the necessaries for his voyage; the man then turns restive, and oftentimes refuses to go, unless more money is given him, generally £5 or £10 more than was first agreed on. So that the worse the character, the better able the pauper is to make his way when he quits the vessel. One ship-owner, whose vessel sailed this year to the United States from Hull, and who has had several previously, says he believes that nearly all the passengers go to the back settlements, to their friends who had previously gone there, and had written for them; and that it very rarely happened that any family went out on a roving expedition, not having an object. It appears that the greatest immigration from Hull is to Canada, whither passage money is reduced, and many instances have been discovered where the overseers have agreed with the

« AnteriorContinuar »