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America from Europe, has thus far scarcely attracted the attention of the general government. It has cared for their health on shipboard, but it makes no provision for them after their arrival. The decisions of its courts have even harassed, very considerably, the police and hospital provisions made for them by the maritime states. These states succeed, however, in taxing the emigrant on his arrival, that they may provide a fund for the care of the emigrant body. With this, the supervision of government ceases entirely; and those foreign emigrants who wish to go to the West—perhaps one half of the whole number— are left, scarcely protected by the public, to the rapacity of all unprincipled persons, frequently that of their own countrymen, who choose to prey on their ignorance of our geography, our customs, our language, and of their own rights and necessities. In the State of New York there is even a system of slang language in use by the various harpies who feed this emigration. So various are the forms of fraud that they require a dialect of their own. Even the humane legislation of New York has in vain attempted to break up this system. Through the summer of 1854 foreign emigrants have been hurried to the West, so closely and inhumanly packed away in trains of cars that they were the first victims of cholera, in the western cities to which they came, and have furnished to that disease a constant supply of victims.
EMIGRANT AID COMPANIES. 219
This condition of the foreign emigration westward also pointed to the necessity of an organization of emigration. The activity of the Northern States, at the present time, in the institution of “Emigrant Aid Companies,” and “leagues” and “associations' auxiliary to such companies, springs from one or both of these considerations. The number of persons in the Northern and North-western States who move to some home westward of that they occupy, is probably three hundred thousand a year, including the immense foreign contingent. Evidently, this movement is so large as to demand the most careful oversight of the travelling arrangements made for it; and as evidently, also, a small proportion of it only will be enough to give Ranzas the population requisite for her admission as a state into the Union. Influenced by both the considerations spoken of Mr. Eli Thayer, a member of the Massachusetts house of representatives, circulated a petition, in the month of March, 1854, for the incorporation, by the General Court of Massachusetts, of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company. The petition was at once granted by the Legislature, and a charter given, of which the first section follows: “SEC. 1. Benjamin C. Clark, Isaac Livermore, Charles Allen, Isaac Davis, William G. Bates, Stephen C. Phillips, Charles C. Hazewell, Alexander H. Bullock, Henry Wilson, James S. Whitney, Samuel E. Sewall, Samuel G. Howe, James Holland, Moses Kimball, James D. Green, Francis W. Bird, Otis Clapp, Anson Burlingame, Eli Thayer, and Otis Rich, their associates, successors and assigns, are hereby made a corporation, by the name of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, for the purpose of assisting emigrants to settle in the West; and, for this purpose, they have all the powers and privileges, and be subject to all the duties, restrictions, and liabilities, set forth in the thirty-eighth and forty-fourth chapters of the Revised Statutes.” The charter was signed by the Governor on the 26th day of April, and took effect immediately. The persons named in it, and others interested, met at the State House, in Boston, on the 4th of May, accepted the charter, and appointed a committee to report a plan of organization and system of operations. The committee consisted of Eli Thayer, Alexander H. Bullock, and E. E. Hale of Worcester, Richard Hildreth and Otis Clapp of Boston, who submitted the following report at an adjourned meeting:
“The objects of this corporation are apparent in its name. The immense emigration to America from Europe introduces into our ports a very large number of persons eager to pass westward. The fertility of our western regions, and the cheapness of the public lands, induce many of the native-born citizens of the old states also to emigrate thither.
EMIGRANT AID COMPANY. 221
At the present time, public and social considerations of the gravest character render it desirable to settle the territories west of Missouri and Iowa; and these considerations are largely increasing the amount of westward emigration.
“The foreign arrivals in America last year were four hundred thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven. In the same year, the emigration to western states, of Americans and foreigners, must have amounted to much more than two hundred thousand persons. The emigration thither this year will be larger still. And from the older western states large numbers are removing into new territory.
“Persons who are familiar with the course of movement of this large annual throng of emigrants know that under the arrangements now existing they suffer at every turn. The frauds practised upon them by ‘runners,’ and other agents of transporting lines in the state of New York, amount to a stupendous system of knavery, which has not been broken up even by the patient endeavors of the state officers, and by very stringent state legislation. The complete ignorance as to our customs in which the foreign emigrant finds himself, and, in more than half the foreign emigration, his complete ignorance of our language, subject him to every fraud, and to constant accident. It is in the face of every conceivable inconvenience that the country receives every year four hundred thousand foreigners into its seaports, and sends the larger portion of them to its western country.
“The inconveniences and dangers to health to which the pioneer is subject who goes out alone or with his family, only in making a new settlement, are familiar to every American. V “The Emigrant Aid Company has been incorporated to protect emigrants, as far as may be, from such inconveniences. Its duty is to organize emigration to the west and bring it into a system. This duty, which should have been attempted long ago, is particularly essential now, in the critical position of the western territories. “The legislature has granted a charter, with a capital sufficient for these purposes. This capital is not to exceed $5,000,000. In no single year are assessments to a larger amount than ten per cent. to be called for. The corporators believe that if the company be organized at once, as soon as the subscription to the stock amounts to $1,000,000, the annual income to be derived from that amount, and the subsequent subscriptions, may be so appropriated as to render most essential service to the emigrant, to plant a free state in Kanzas, to the lasting advantage of the country, and to return a very handsome profit to the stockholders upon their investment. o J “1. The emigrant suffers whenever he goes alone into his new home. He suffers from the frauds of others; from his own ignorance of the system of travel, and of the country where he settles; and, again, from his want of