Irate Italians Over New Orleans Lynching Discussed in N.Y. 1891

The Italian consulate in the Chesebrough building, 24 State street, New York, had more visitors today than for a month past. All the morning files of men and women of all grades in society, from the merchant tot he just landed immigrant, were crowding the little ante room, chattering volubly in their native tongue and waiting impatiently to be heard. Consul General Riva was late in arriving, and when he came he retired for a consultation with his vice consul, over the cards of half a dozen reporters. The consultation lasted half an hour and the crowd of reporters in the hall grew. At last the vice consul's office was thrown open and that official explained as politely as his limited command of English would allow that General Riva did not wish to be interviewed; that the consulate had nothing to say about the New Orleans lynching further than to express the hope that the New York colony would preserve order in their protests. "Of course," the vice consul added, "telegrams between the consulate and the Italian government were confidential."

"And what will the Italian government do?" asked one of the newspaper delegation.

"The Italian government know best; ask them," with a shrug.

"And are there no precedents?" persisted another reporter.

"I think not," the official replied with dignity. "I never heard of such a case in any country."

Mitchel Lemmi, secretary of the Italian chamber of commerce at 4 Pearl street was by no means so discreet as the vice consul. He is a Tuscan who talks volubly with much emphasis of gesticulation. He declared that there would be a mass meeting in New York on Wednesday night of 50,000 Italians to protest against the brutal murder of their countrymen in New Orleans. He was sure the whole power of the Italian government would be invoked to protect Italian citizens in this country. As for New Orleans, "the end is not yet," exclaimed Mr. Lemmi, with a fine pose. "The Italians of that city will not rest till the blood of their country-men is avenged. You will see more trouble great trouble for these mob murders."
The three Italian newspapers of New York are taking charge of the arrangements for Wednesday night's mass meeting and expect speeches of protest from some of the leading Italians in the City. Carolo Barsotti, editor of the Progresso Italo Americano has sent the following dispatch to the Italian government:

                                                                                                                         New York, March 14, 1891.

Rudini, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rome:

Italian press of New York unanimous in representing the colony, notifying massacre at New Orleans by rage of populace of six Italians already acquitted by an American jury, demand intervention from home government.

                                                                                                                                 ITALIAN PRESS

The following reply was promptly received:

                                                                                                                           Rome, March 15, 1891_6:30 P.M.

Carlo Barsotti, Editor of the Progresso Italo Americano, New York:

Your cablegram received. I have already demanded from the federal government energetic and prompt measures.


The New Orleans Affair Is Not Within The Federal Government's Jurisdiction.

                                                                                                                                        Washington, D.C., March 16.

If the Italian government persists in a demand for indemnity for the lynching of the Sicilians at New Orleans there promise to be some interesting developments of a political nature touching the very foundation of this government and recalling a question which some people thought was settled by the war. Secretary Blaine has determined that he will go very slowly in the matter of the lynching, so slow, in fact, that he will take no official action whatever. He has decided definitely that the affair is one wholly of state law and that the United States have nothing whatever to do with it except as a transmitter of communications between the state of Louisiana and the kingdom of Italy. He has advised the President that the crime of the Italians was wholly against state law and that the United States would have had no right to interfere if the state courts had hung the murderers of Hennessy, whether they were naturalized or not. For the same reason the actions of mobs are a matter exclusively of state jurisdiction. it is understood that the President agreed with Secretary Blaine and that the Italian minister will be notified that the matter is not under federal jurisdiction. it is expected that Governor Nichols will reply to Mr. Blaine's note and then the department will transmit the reply to Baron Fava, with an explanation of state rights which will open the eyes of all foreign governments in a way that will radically modify all future treaty making conventions in which this country begs for extradition clauses or for stipulations as to the rights of American citizens abroad. This stand of the government of course applies solely to the right of punishment. In the matter of indemnity, the United States recognize their responsibility as a federal power. If indemnity is demanded, and it has not been as yet, it will remain entirely with congress whether it will make the necessary appropriation. No indemnity can be paid without a specific appropriation for that purpose. There has been nothing new in the Italian matter as far as the state department is concerned, since Secretary Blaine sent his letter to Governor Nichols. The Italian minister has made no further request for the protection of his countrymen and advice from New Orleans indicate that there is no need for alarm, as no one else will be harmed, the citizens apparently being fully satisfied to take no other steps. The state department will investigate the allegation that several of the lynched assassins were unnaturalized, but even if that should be proved the officials fail to see what satisfaction they can give the Italian government. The rumor that one of the naval vessels now at Tampa would be sent to New Orleans simply as an evidence of good faith on the part of this government to insure protection to the king of Italy's subjects is without foundation and has not been thought of by the President. While Mr. Harrison deplores the resort to mob law, he is not disposed to interfere in the affairs of Louisiana until convinced that the state authorities are either unable or unwilling to preserve order. If there is continued recurrence of lawlessness he will act promptly.

Comments by the London Press Upon the Resort to Lynch Law.

                                                                                                                                                London, March 16.

The Star this evening is of the opinion that "the impressive feature of the New Orleans affair was the perfect orderliness maintained throughout the proceedings. Here, champions of law and order stand aghast at such proceedings. The American democracy has sounder notions as to what law and order really mean."

Mr. Moreton Frewen, a son in law of the late Mr. Leonard Jerome, has written a letter, which is published in the Pall Mall Gazette today, defending the action of the citizens of new Orleans as a "straightening out of the Italian question once for all," and he adds that he "leaves the old women of both sexes to moralize over the so called excesses of the blood stained populace," etc. He also commends the action of "the men of Mississippi who are not spoiled by the spirit of submission to the letter of the law, which has done so much to emasculate the human race."

The Pall Mall Gazette, in reply, generally criticizes Mr. Morton Frewen's letter, but holds that the English people ought not to hold up their hands in righteous horror, adding "one branch of the Anglo-Saxon race does not differ from another in this matter. The citizens of New Orleans, finding that the jury did not do its duty, said, "We must by one means or by another p at crime down."

The St. James Gazette, referring to the same subject, ways: "The incident shows that native Americans have not lost the quality of stern resolution which is sometimes dissolved by a life of comfort and luxury in modern society. The men who organized this defiance of formal justice are not ashamed of what they have done. They have defeated a society of foreign ruffians who were trying to terrorize a whole city. It is doubtful if John fall has enough grit left in him to protest in as an emphatic a manner as the citizens of new Orleans have protested."

                                                                                                                                               Rome, March 16.

The Capitan Fracassa today says: "The weak in America are at the mercy of a ferocious, bloody populace and are tortured and murdered in daylight."

The Don Crisciotte Della Mancia remarks that: "Italy ought to demand that instant measures be taken to protect the Italian colony in New Orleans," adding, however: "It is just also to recognize the fact that similar incidents would not occur if the towns on the Atlantic literal were not infested with the ex-galley slave of Europe.


Website: The History
Article Name: Irate Italians Over New Orleans Lynching Discussed in N.Y. 1891
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle March 16, 1891
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