Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Blaine.
Sir: I have the honor to call your attention to the following case: On the 16th instant seven British subjects who arrived at the port of New York on the steamship Obdam of the Netherlands line were detained on board by the United States authorities as contract laborers. It seems that these men were furnished with letters to some one in Texas who, they were assured by the London agents of the steam-ship company, would endeavor to find them employment. These letters were taken by the United States authorities as contracts for labor, but it does not appear that they can reasonably be regarded as such.
The men are, moreover, respectable and desirable emigrants; they paid their own passage money, they are provided with railroad tickets to take them to their destination, they have some money, and are under obligations to no one.
Her Majesty’s consul-general at New York wrote on the 20th instant to the collector of the port of New York on their behalf, but he was informed in reply that they could not be allowed to land.
The steamship Obdam leaves New York early to-morrow (Thursday), and I should esteem it a great favor if you would move the proper authorities to cause instructions to be sent to the collector by telegraph to hold the men until the matter can be investigated.
I have, etc.,