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WHY THE RUSSIAN TREATY SHOULD BE

ABROGATED,

BY WILLIAM SULZER.

TREATIES between nations should be free from ambiguity regarding the rights of their respective citizens to visit and sojourn in the country of each other, and should admit of no discrimination in favor of some citizens and against other citizens of either of the high contracting parties; and it is customary among the nations of the world to recognize without discrimination the passports of each, when duly issued and authenticated, to their respective citizens who desire to sojourn in other countries.

The question now before the Congress of the United States, therefore, regarding the "Russian passport question" resolves itself into this: Has Russia by the treaty of 1832 agreed to recognize American passports without discrimination on account of race or religion?

To determine the question it is necessary to read the provision in the treaty of 1832 between the United States and Russia. Article 1 of that treaty reads as follows:

"There shall be between the territories of the high contracting parties a reciprocal liberty of commerce and navigation. The inhabitants of their respective States shall mutually have liberty to enter the ports, places and rivers of the territories of each party wherever foreign commerce is permitted. They shall be at liberty to sojourn and reside in all parts whatsoever of said territories, in order to attend to their affairs, and they shall enjoy, to that effect, the same security and protection as natives of the country wherein they reside."

This provision of the treaty seems to be plain and clear, and gives citizens of the United States

"the right to sojourn and reside in all parts of Russia in order to attend to their affairs, and they shall enjoy the same security and protection as natives of the country wherein they reside."

A treaty is the supreme law of the land, and Mr. Justice Field, of the United States Supreme Court, laid down the construction of treaties in Geofroy v. Riggs (133 U. S., 271), in which he said:

"It is a general principle of construction with respect to treaties that they shall be liberally construed, so as to carry out the apparent intent of the parties to secure equality and reciprocity between them. As they are contracts between independent nations, in their construction, words are to be taken in their ordinary meaning, as understood in the public law of nations, and not in any artificial or special sense impressed upon by local law, unless such restricted sense is clearly intended. And it has been held by this court that where a treaty admits of two constructions, one restrictive of rights that may be claimed under it and the other favorable to them, the latter is to be preferred."

In view of this it seems evident to me, and it must be to every sensible and fair-minded person, that when the treaty with Russia was concluded it was the intention of Russia and the United States that the rights granted by Article I of that treaty should extend equally to every citizen of this country without discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

This being so, it is apparent that Russia has for years continually violated the provisions of the treaty by refusing to recognize, on account of race or religion, passports granted to American citizens.

This is not a Jewish question. It is an American question. It involves a great principle. It affects the rights of all American citizens. Russia not only refuses to recognize American passports. held by Jews on account of their race or their religion, but she also refuses to recognize American passports held by Baptist missionaries, Catholic priests, and Presbyterian divines on account of their religious belief.

The Government of the United States declares as a fundamental principle that all men are equal before the law, regardless of race or religion, and it makes no distinction based on the creeds or the birthplaces of its citizens in this connection, nor can it consistently permit such distinctions to be made by a foreign power. We solemnly assert that the rights of our citizens at home or abroad shall not be impaired on account of race or religion.

Not the religion, nor the race of a person, but his American citizenship is the true test of the treatment he shall receive and the rights he shall enjoy under the law at home and abroad. This is fundamental. We must adhere to it tenaciously.

Freedom of religious belief-the right to worship our Maker according to the dictates of our conscience—is one of the corner stones of our broad institutions, and so jealous of this liberty were the fathers that they wrote in the Federal Constitution

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

We must maintain this great principle of religious freedom inviolate forever.

We declare that the Government of the United States has carefully lived up to its treaty obligations with Russia. We have granted to every Russian coming to this country all the rights stipulated in the treaty, irrespective of race or religion. That is our construction of the treaty of 1832 and in its conclusion demonstrates the intention of the United States Government.

The refusal of Russia to recogize American passports on account of race and religion is in my judgment, a clear violation of the treaty of 1832, and the remaining question is one of remedy only.

What action should the Congress of the United States take in this matter? I have given much thought to this inquiry and have finally concluded that the best action we can take to remedy this injustice to American citizens is to serve the usual official notice of twelve months on Russia that we desire to abrogate the treaty of 1832, and that at the expiration of the notice, given in accordance with the terms of the treaty, it shall be null and void.

We must be true to the great principles of justice and freedom and equality on which our Government is founded. We can not connive at discrimination of any American citizen on account of his race or his religion, nor admit any foreign power to ostracize him or discriminate against him for these reasons. To do so is an insult to every American.

Either Russia must recognize American passports, without discrimination on account of race or religion, or the Russian treaty must be abrogated. Our self-respect demands it; the memories of the past dictate it; our hope for the future commands it. No other course is open to the United States, and for this Government to submit longer to the violation by Russia of the treaty is a humiliation to our sense of justice and to our love for our fellow man that merits the condemnation of every patriotic American. The Russian treaty must be terminated. The people are

aroused about the matter as they never have been before over the question, and the time for action by the Congress has come. There can be no arbitration of this elemental principle of our Government; there must be no more delay; the matter must be settled now for all time, a new treaty must be arranged in which Russia can find no loophole to enable her to discriminate against any class of American citizens on account of race or religion.

We are a patient and long-suffering people where the question involved does not touch us on our tenderest spot-our pocketbooks; but the awakening has come, and with it a keen realization of the affronts we have suffered for years at the hands of a Government notorious for its lack of human sympathy.

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