"Will End Greek Slavery - Government to Put Stop to Padrone System" article - Chicago Daily Tribune, February 25, 1907

Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, February 25, 1907

Many Boys Brought to United States
to Work in Shoe Shining Shops and
Held in Virtual Bondage in Large
Cities - Athens Authorities Expected
to Lend Aid to Check Traffic,
Which Is Depopulating Country
of Its Youth.

Washington, D.C., Feb. 24.- (Special) - A determined effort is about to be made by the federal government to break up the operations of certain padrones who for several years have been engaged in the traffic of importing Greek boys, who are held for long periods in what amounts to absolute slavery.

The governors of several states, the mayors of many large cities, and other persons have filed complaints with the secretary of commerce and labor that has resulted in an order calling for a thorough investigation of the padrone system with special reference to the importation of Greek boys.

Social Agents at Work.

Special agents of the department are already at work in New York under the direction of Alchibiades Seraphic, a Greek inspector at ports in Florida where aliens are admitted.

In the movement just started by the federal authorities to break up this traffic the good offices of the Greek government have been enlisted and the foreign office at Athens has given assurances that everything will be done at that end to prevent the shipment of Greek children to the United States.  It is understood that the Greek government may even go further, in consequence of the steady inroads upon the population of the country by migration, and refuse to issue passports to subjects who give America as their destination.

Practically Held in Bondage.

Information has been in the hands of the commissioner general of immigration for a long time that Greek boys, many of them of tender age, employed in boot and shoe shining shops and in other places, were practically held in bondage.  Efforts have been made repeatedly to secure evidence to this effect, but officials heretofore have failed in the steps taken in this direction.  That padrones are engaged in the business of importing Greek boys and that boys come here under contracts generally made with their parents is known as a matter of fact, but it has been found to be almost impossible to secure positive evidence on this point.