Denied Admittance to the US Because He Loves Liberty

Socialist Voice/January 5, 1907

Lieut-Colonel Vlachishov Petrovsky has been refused landing on American soil by the immigration officials of San Francisco. He has been denied admittance to the United States because he loves freedom. Shorn of technical verbiage, that is the reason that the immigration officials of San Francisco refuse him admittance. Because Lieutenant-Colonel Petrovsky loves liberty, he cannot come into the United States.

Colonel Petrovsky is not a pauper. During his examination he showed a draft for $4,000 “and other money.” He also showed that he was not a bigamist and, furthermore, nailing any technical quibble that might arise concerning the bond between himself and his wife, he testified that their marriage was not a mere civil marriage, but was a religious marriage.

He did not threaten to become a burden to the United States, because he was an educated man, a civil engineer and an electrician. While in Vladivostok, incidentally, he was secretary of a geographical society.

For none of the foregoing attributes and efficiencies was he denied admittance. He was denied admittance to the United States because he loved liberty.

In the minds of the members of the Board of Inquiry, Colonel Petrovsky’s love of liberty, by some strange alchemy, is translated into moral turpitude. His love of freedom is by them characterized as felonious and political criminality. Colonel Petrovsky believed in organized government. His high political criminality consisted in writing articles in Vladivostok protesting against the slaughter of citizens by soldiers, and of making speeches wherein he advocated the acceptance by the people of the republican principles of government. That is to say, he advocated the making of benighted Russia into an advanced and highly civilized state such as our own United States. For this act he is denied admittance by the immigration officials of San Francisco. O Washington, Paul Jones and Abraham Lincoln, turn not over in thy graves!

I flame with shame for my American citizenship when I read the evidence and then the findings of the Board of Inquiry. Three men signed those findings, and of the three I wonder what alien lands gave birth to the two men who bear the names of A. de la Torre, Jr., and M. Lissak. I am glad that no Jack London, Jr.’s, name is appended to such findings. If it were, I should be constrained to give that son of my loins rough on rats, and then invoke the shades of my American forefathers, and say: “Did I not well?”

Colonel Petrovsky, in speech and writing, advocated republican principles of government. For this he was court martialed by his own despotic government, and hence his advocacy of republican principles is branded by the Board of Inquiry in San Francisco as an act of “moral turpitude.”

I read over the names of the three men who constituted that Board of Inquiry — Griffiths, de la Torre, Jr., and Lissak. Shame on their names! It was maggot-minded men like these that crucified the Christ, burned Bruno at the stake, and in our own day and country mobbed men like Phillips and Garrison. Griffiths, de la Torre, Jr., Lissak — if the measure of their minds becomes the measure of intellect and freedom in the United States, I, for one, shall get out. I’ll flee to Russia.

According to Section 38, no person can be admitted to the United States who is opposed to organized government or who believes in murdering the officials of government. Colonel Petrovsky stated repeatedly, in various ways, that he was a Socialist; that he did not believe in violence, and that he did believe in organized government. In fact, that is what all Socialists believe in, and they believe in a more rationally organized government than we even at present enjoy. There are a million men and women in the United States today holding these same political opinions that Colonel Petrovsky holds. They are Socialists, as he is a Socialist. And the definition of socialism can be found in all the dictionaries. And yet, that Board of Inquiry, in its findings, states: “There seems to be some doubts to his political views, being according to his own confession a political agitator and socialist, which might be construed to be a violation of Section 38.”

O wise, just and subtle judges! O wise pin-heads! I blush for my own citizenship with such as you.

The works of Jack London and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism.