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Imperial Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1271, p. 119.

July 30, 1864

...HOUSE OF COMMONS.--Thursday.

...Emigration (America).--Lord E. Howard called attention to the subject of emigration to the United States of America, in reference to the prolongation of the war now raging in that country. The noble Lord detailed a number of cases in which a great many mechanics had been decoyed over to America, under the inducement of good work and high wages in large firms in Canada. Instead of being conveyed to that place, they were landed in New York, and there, having been surfeited with whisky, deserted, without the means of subsistence; and ultimately many of them were compelled to enter the Federal army from sheer necessity to escape starvation. He looked with much concern on the great emigration at present going on, and he advised large manufacturers to do their utmost to stop the flow of skilled labour from their several districts. The noble Lord then referred to the circumstances that occurred a short time ago in Ireland, and afterwards read extracts from letters written by those who had unfortunately been deluded into quitting England for America, all of whom advised their fellow-workmen to look with the greatest suspicion upon all inducements to visit the United States at the present moment. It might be that the wages given there would be larger then those in England, yet the price of the necessaries of life were so enormous that the lesser sum earned in England went further than that to be obtained in America. If it were possible, he should like the Government to give some expression of opinion upon the subject; but he felt certain the Foreign Office would do all that was possible to protect those who had been kidnapped from their native land to take part in a dreadful war which was a disgrace to both contending parties. The noble Lord concluded by moving for certain papers relative to emigration.--Mr. Layard said the noble Lord had done good service in calling attention to the subject of emigration to America. He could not see how many of the difficulties mentioned by the noble Lord could be obviated, but he advised the greatest caution to be observed by all quitting their native land. The Government had directed the proper authorities to do all that was possible to protect English emigrants; but, at the same time, he hoped that all those parties who went to America--it was idle to suppose that emigration could be stopped--would exercise the greatest discretion. The emigration officers, the noble Lord might rest assured, would do all in their power to prevent unfair practices; but he felt certain that blame was not to be attached to the American Government. He would willingly give the noble Lord all the papers he desired.--Mr. P. Hennessy, seeing the Secretary for Ireland in his place, said the emigration from Cork to enlist in the American army was going on at the present time to the same extent as it was at the beginning of the year.--Mr. Lindsay said it was of the greatest importance that extreme caution should be exercised by emigrants. The present value of the American dollar was certainly not 4s. 2d. To show the extent of the horror of the present struggle and the sacrifice of human life, it was said that upwards of a million of lives must have been already sacrificed.--Sir R. Peel, in reply to the hon. and learned member, said a proclamation had been issued by the Lord Lieutenant, which he hoped would check the tide of emigration from Ireland. The greatest efforts were being used to make all persons well acquainted with the state of affairs in America.--After a few words from Mr. P. Taylor, Lord J. Manners thought that the Emigration Commissioners should issue a warning, stating that it was not safe for the humbler people of England to go to America to find a home.--The motion was agreed to.

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