« AnteriorContinuar »
Hi : So desperate did the condition of the West Indian colonies become that the House of Commons appointed a select committee I to inquire into the state of the West Indian colonies in reference to the existing relations between employers and laborers. The report of this committee makes an analysis of the causes of the West Indian distress, and also foreshadows the policy by means of which alone extreme disaster could be averted, and which was, in fact, adopted by several of the colonies.”
The report of the British West Indian commission above referred to, presented in 1842, may be summarized as follows: First, that the emancipation act was productive of the most favorable and gratifying results regarding the character and condition of the negro population; second, that the negro had shown an increased desire for instruction and a growing disposition to assume the obligations of marriage and the responsibilities of domestic life, improved morals, a rapid advance in civilization, and an increased sense of the value of property and independent station; third, that simultaneous with this had come a great diminution in the staple productions of the West Indies, injurious and in some cases ruinous to the proprietors of estates; fourth, that this had resulted, in some of the larger colonies, in the abandonment of estates; fifth, that the principal cause of this diminished production was the difficulty of obtaining steady and continuous labor, and the high rates of remuneration required for broken and indifferent labor; sixth, that this diminution of the labor supply was due to the fact that the laborers had betaken themselves to other and more profitable occupations, and were able to live in comfort by only laboring for the planters three or four days in the week and from five to seven hours a day; seventh, that this was largely due to the fact that the negroes had been able to obtain land upon easy terms for their own occupation; eighth, that a very small area of land provides sufficient to yield ample food supply, and in many cases a considerable revenue independent of wages received from plantations; ninth, that this cheapness of land was due to the excess of fertile lands beyond the requirements of the existing population. The report closed by recommending the promotion of immigration of a fresh laboring population, subject to such regulations as would insure the full rights and comforts of the immigrants as freemen, and be conducted under the authority, inspection, and control of responsible public officers. The experiment of the importation of indentured labor, recommended in the above report, will be discussed in another section of this study, but the above summarization of the report itself, which resulted from a study of the conditions which followed the abolition of forced labor, is here presented in its proper sequence, especially with the purpose of calling attention to this statement made more than half a century ago regarding the disposition of native negro labor to divide itself into individual industries and establish homes upon small holdings, and by doing so contribute to the diversification of industries which has been already referred to as a possible solution of the labor question in the Tropics, especially the West Indies, with their proximity to great markets for products of a diversified character.
Another form of forced labor which has been adopted in a few cases, especially in the earlier history of colonization, was that supplied by transportation of convicts. Australia, as is well known, was originally a convict colony. The Russian Government for a time utilized portions of Siberia in this manner, and the French island of New Caledonia in the Pacific and French Guiana in South America are still the destination of certain classes of convicts from France. New Caledonia, in 1898, consisted of 7,477 convicts undergoing sentence, 2,515 liberated convicts, 1,714 soldiers, 1,762 officials, and 585 colonists. It is needless to say that convict labor or penal service in the colony for other than crimes there committed is no longer considered advisable or advantageous, and was been practically abandoned, except in small islands which can virtually be given up to this purpose and not considered in the life of the ordinary colony. “In 1845, and again in 1849,” says Dilke, “the inhabitants of Melbourne prevented by force the landing of British convicts, and much more violent language was used of that resistance by the English press than has recently been applied to the equally illegal prevention of the landing of Chinese. In the second of the two years named the legislature of New South Wales passed a law which imposed on all persons who might have been transported to or convicted in any British colony in the Southern Hemisphere, and who might arrive in New South Wales, the necessity of notifying the magistrates of all changes of residence on their part, and, if summoned by a justice of the peace, of accounting for their means of support in each case under a penalty of two years' imprisonment with hard labor. This act was disallowed by the home Government. The Australian League, which was started at Melbourne in 1851, was intended, among other objects, to support with money those who might suffer from being prominent in the cause of antitransportation' (of convicts). Victoria, in 1852, passed a ‘Convicts' prevention act,' which prevented ex-convicts who had received the Queen's pardon, or who were absolutely free, having completed their sentences, or who held tickets of leave, which gave them a legal right to go where they chose in Australia, from landing in Victoria.”
Merivale, in his course of lectures on colonization before the University of Oxford in 1839, 1840, and 1841, commenting upon the convict-labor experiment in Australia, said: “The penal colonies under the British Government are now four in number—New South Wales, Tasmania, Bermuda, and Norfolk Island. In Bermuda there are about 900 convicts only, working in gangs in the Government dockyards. Norfolk Island is used as a place of temporary punishment. The two Australian colonies (New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land) contain at this time (1840) more than 40,000 convicts, and of these it appears that about 26,000 are assigned or made over to settlers as servants to perform compulsory labor; the remainder are worked in the service of the Government in road gangs, chain gangs, or in the penal settlements. From 1787 to 1836, 75,250 convicts had been transported to New South Wales, and 27,757 to Van Diemen’s Land. The average of late years has been about 3,500 to the former colony and 2,000 to the latter. It becomes important to trace the effect produced on these colonies by the continued influx of convict labor, and the probable results of its discontinuance. In the first place, the effect of the extensive introduction of convicts on the progress of the population must be considered. The great disproportion between the sexes, which is unavoidable under such circumstances, necessarily prevents it from making a rapid advance. Accordingly the increase of number in Australia has been very slow. But a population which grows in this manner-by adult immigration must for some time la favorably constituted with respect to the productiveness of labor; there must be a smaller number of unproductive persons. But convicts in a healthy country like Australia soon grow old, and it may be doubted, therefore, whether, after a certain period, such a population is really more effective than one which grows by natural movement. The labor of convicts is probably the dearest of all labor; that is, it costs more to some portion or other of society. The master himself obtains it cheaper than the services of the free laborer, but this is only because the State has already expended a much greater sum then the difference on the maintenance and restraint of the convict; and, when obtained, it is not in the long run equally efficient or valuable. In our colonies the convicts are divided into two classes—those employed on public works and those assigned as servants to individuals. From the first of these classes it is probable that as much labor is obtained, for an equal expense, as would be procured from hired laborers at that high rate of wages which prevails in young communities. But with reference to the other class, that of assigned servants, the case is very different. The difficulty of employing them profitably, and at the same time rendering their condition one of punishment, is extreme. The ordinary laborer may be compelled, by dread of severe coercion, to perform a certain quantity of work-about two-thirds of what would be done by a free laborer. But severity will never compel the skilled mechanic to exert his powers. Their development can only be won by good treatment and indulgence, perhaps in his most pernicious habits; and thus with respect to those very criminals who are in general the most depraved there is a constant temptation to the master to treat them with the greatest lenity and favor, by which the object of punishment is entirely frustrated. * * * The state of public morals in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land is but too plainly evinced by the criminal returns from those countries. A large proportion of their community consists of men, restrained from the commission of every crime merely by the exercise of severe and constant watchfulness over them. It is notorious that almost every wickedness of luxurious and corrupt society is practiced there, amidst a scanty, laborious, and unrefined population. Nor is it possible to deny the extensive influence which the conduct of this vicious class exercises on the remainder of the community. The habit of entertaining convict seryants introduces crime and recklessness into families of respectable emigrants."
FORCED LABOR IN THE DUTCH EAST INDIES.
In the East Indies, especially Java, the labor problem was met in a different way by the Dutch Government, which has controlled that island for so many years, and while the system which it adopted has practically disappeared under the pressure of public opinion within a more recent period than that which witnessed the abolition of slavery, a somewhat detailed description of the method is interesting, especially as it was highly commended by Englishmen of long experience in the Orient long after public opinion compelled the abolition of slavery.
This commendation was strongly marked in the case of W. J. V. Money in his work Java, or How to Manage a Colony, published in 1861, after a careful personal study of conditions in Jaya, which followed a long official service in India. In the introduction to his work on Jaya, he says: "Poverty, crime, and dissatisfaction among the natives, failing means and general discontent among the Europeans, a large debt and yearly deficit in the income of the country, both trade and revenue at the same low figure per head of population, and absence of good feeling between European and native existed in Java until 1832. A new system was then inaugurated which in twenty-five years quadrupled the revenue, paid off the debt, changed the yearly deficit to a large yearly surplus, trebled the trade, improved the administration, diminished crime and litigation, gave peace, security, and affluence to the people, combined the interests of European and native, nearly doubled an Oriental population, and gave contentment with the rule of their foreign conquerors to 10,000,000 of the Mussulman race. The only English aim it did not attain was what the Dutch had no wish to secure—the religious and intellectual elevation of the native. But those benefits were all obtained by a means not only compatible with that object, but which have involuntarily operated in that direction, and have produced a firm basis for future improvement. These benefits are due to the culture system, established by General Van den Bosch in 1832.”
The system thus so highly commended by Money is summarized by Ireland in his Tropical Colonies, 1899, as follows: "The general principles of the culture system were these: All land belonged to the Government, and was given out for cultivation on the condition that four-fifteenths of all produce should be paid to the Government. A class of Europeans, known as contractors, were encouraged by the Government, by means of loans, to build factories and storehouses for the gathering and handling of the crops chiefly sugar, coffee, and spices. Behind this system lay the corvée or liability of the people to render a certain amount of free service to the Government in each year. The amount of such service varied between fifty and seventy-five days a year. By utilizing this forced labor the Dutch covered the island with excellent roads and erected handsome public edifices. The effects of this system were most striking, a remarkable increase taking place in the production, revenue, and imports of the island, and a corresponding improvement in the material conditions of the peasantry. From 1871 onward the rigor of the system was relaxed, and in recent years taxes have been substituted for the corvée and land has been thrown open to private enterprise. During the past five years the island, which formerly yielded a handsome profit to Holland, has had to face a yearly deficit averaging about $5,000,000. The condition of the agricultural classes in Java compares very favorably with that of the same classes in India; and this has been attributed by writers to the fact that under the Dutch system there existed no landlords and middlemen to send up the rental of land." (The recent change from surplus revenue to a deficit, above referred to by Mr. Ireland, is attributed by Dutch statesmen and writers, in part at least, to the large expenses in the island due to the Achinese war, which has continued for several years, and to heavy reductions in the prices of sugar and coffee, the chief productions of the island.)
The above description of the forced-labor system in Java, like that which preceded it with reference to slavery, is presented not with the view that its adoption would by desirable, or is likely to be returned to by any nation, but its details are considered worthy of examination, chiefly by way of illustrating the permanent benefits to labor, industry, and commerce accruing from the opening of highways and means of communications which were created during the existence of the system here described.
The descriptions given on another page by Professor Day, an American; M. Le Clercq, a Frenchman, and Mr. Worsfold, an Englishman, together with the above brief statement by Mr. Ireland, a native of England but a resident of the United States, present from varied standpoints the views of students of the labor and culture system in Java, views drawn, in nearly all cases, from personal observation.
THE IMPORTATION OF LABOR UNDER CONTRACT.
Following the abolition of forced labor in the Tropics came the experiment of the importation of contract or "indentured” labor, and in some cases the importation of labor without a definite contract either as to wage or term of service. Both of these systems are still in use in a limited way, and while not looked upon as a satisfactory solution of the problem of the supply of labor for tropical territory, they may properly be described in this connection.
The chief scene of importation of labor under contract has been in the British tropical colonies, notably Trinidad, Jamaica, British Guiana, Mauritius, and the colonies on the eastern and southern coasts of Africa. Into all of these and some other of the British colonies coolies from India have been brought under contract or “indenture” for a certain term of years at fixed rates of wages and under protection of British officials appointed to assure their fair treatment and return them to their home at the end of the period, in case
they desire to return. In the British East Indies, notably Ceyion and the Malayan Peninsula, imported -abor has been and is now utilized in certain of the colonies, but without restrictions as to wages, time of employment, or return of the laborers to their homes, the sources from which they were drawn, India and China, being sufficiently near to enable them to terminate their service whenever it should prove unsatisfactory, and the industrious habits of the classes so employed, coupled with the large numbers to be drawn upon, assuring a satisfactory supply to those requiring their services. In Ceylon the labor supply, other than that furnished by the natives, is chiefly drawn from India, and in the Malayan Peninsula from China.
The system of imported contract labor which is in force in British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica, il Mauritius is described by Ireland as follows: “The laborers are recruited by voluntary enlistment in India. Each laborer is given a copy of his contract, and such terms as are contained in it are enforceable against the government of the colony. On arrival in the colony the immigrants are allotted to the different estates. The immigrants must work seven hours a day for five days a week. In return the employer must pay a minimum daily wage of 24 cents to men and 16 cents to women. He must supply free houses, free medical attendance, free hospital accommodation for all immigrants, and free education for the children of the immigrants. The immigrant department, sees to the enforcement of the law and generally watches the interests of the immigrants. To this department every employer must send periodical returns of the most minute description showing the condition of the immigrants, and in addition to this the law provides for the keeping on each plantation of a number of registers and permanent account books, which must be open at all times to the inspection of the immigration agent-general and his officers. All employers of indentured labor are prohibited, under a penalty of $100 for each offense, from selling goods of any kind to the laborers. Any person employed on an estate convicted of an offense against an indentured immigrant must be dismissed and not employed by any person having indentured laborers under his charge. Penal clauses are attached to the contract of indenture, both as against the planter and the immigrant, fine or imprisonment, or both, being provided according to the gravity of the breach of contract. No punishment can be inflicted on an indentured immigrant except by governmental authorities, after trial and conviction before a magistrate; and the immigrants have the right to leave an estate without permission in order to lay any complaint of ill-treatment or breach of contract before the nearest magistrate or immigration agent. Magistrates are empowered to issue all processes of law free of cost to any immigrant who shall furnish reasonable evidence of a just cause of complaint. Every immigrant who remains ten years in the colony (five of which must be spent under indenture) is entitled to passage back to his native place on payment of onefourth of the cost of transportation in the case of males and one-sixth in the case of females, but all immigrants who are destitute or disabled and all wives and children of indentured immigrants are entitled to free passage back to India at the expense of the British Guiana government."
VIEWS OF COLONISTS ON INDENTURED LABOR.
The following statement is condensed from testimony presented before the West India Royal Commission, which in 1897 visited the West Indian Islands and British Guiana and examined into the cause of depression there. In the testimony taken by this commission in British Guiana the question of indentured labor (the bringing in of coolies from India under a five-year contract) was discussed, and the class of labor thus obtained inquired into.
A committee representing the Planters' Association and Royal Agricultrual and Commercial Society of British Guiana, in its statement before the commission, expressed the opinion that the benefit from the result of indentured labor is in British Guiana very great, because the country is underpopulated. It is reckoned that every immigrant imported returns to the colony the cost of his introduction. At the end of their five years' indenture the immigrants become valuable laborers. The new railway which connects the Demerara and Essequibo rivers was built almost entirely by immigrant labor imported in the first instance for sugar estates. At the end of five years the indentured immigrants become acclimatized and are valuable as colonists. If the sugar industry is to continue and the colony is to continue, then immigration must continue. The estates are now mainly dependent on immigrants for their labor supply, but natives are largely employed as cane cutters, etc. For the conduct of planting operations in the proper season and for reaping the crop an absolutely reliable labor is necessary, and therefore it is necessary to replace the time-expired immigrants annually, as it has been found by experience that indentured labor alone fulfills these conditions. Native labor in the colony does not improve, especially for field operations. It is not reliable, and on sugar estates it is necessary to have an absolutely reliable force of men to put onto any part of the work at any time you want to do so. Without immigrants you could not do that. There is some work that native laborers will not do at any price. It is a very small portion of the total number of indentured immigrants that go back to India. Many of them would come back to the colony from India after returning if they could.
Mr. Gustav H. Richter, an importer and exporter of thirty-three years' experience in British Guiana, in his testimony said: “I consider the immigration system has been a complete failure from beginning to end. I believe it is anything but 'immigration. When an Englishman goes out to Australia, he becomes an Australian. When he goes to the Cape, he becomes a Cape colonist, and when he goes to Canada, he becomes a Canadian and helps the country he settles in. We have brought coolies here by the hundred thousand, and instead of creolizing them, we have sent part of them back, and instead of having a population of 500,000 we have only got one-half that number or, say, 280,000. I think the expense we have gone into has not been fruitful of proper results. There is no reason why our colony should not have a population of a half million. About one-third of the immigrants who come under indenture, return after their contract term expires. It should have been our policy from the beginning to settle them in the colony, and I favor the proposal which has been made to offer them a bonus at the end of their indenture to induce them to give up the right to return passage.”
Hon. A. H. Alexander, the immigration agent-general of the colony, in his testimony, stated that he had had twenty-seven years' experience in this line of service in British Guiana and Jamaica. In Jamaica three-fourths of the indentured immigrants remain in the colony after the expiration of their contract term. The mortality among them averaged about 2 per cent per annum. “My opinion," he said, "is that we will go on introducing indentured immigrants, and give the planter as many as will keep up his labor force to the same number as it is now.”
Drs. Godfrey and Carter, of the medical service engaged in the sanitary service in behalf of the coolies, testified that as a rule proper care was given to the coolies on the estates where employed because the estate knows it is to its interest to keep the sanitary conditions good; in this particular there has been marked improvement in recent years. The coolies after the expiration of their term of indentured service divide their time between labor on the estates and the establishment of homes. 1 Mr. D. M. Hudson, a native of the colony and a sugar planter, in his testimony said: “I do not regard the cooly as a good colonist. Undoubtedly he is a splendid workman for the sugar industry, but as a colonist I think he fails in what we would expect of him. His wants are very few; he saves nearly all his money and when he goes away he takes it with him, thereby draining the colonv of his accumulations. From that point of view I regard him as an indifferent colonist. There is, however, a large proportion of them who remain, but their expenditures are small and I do not regard them on the same footing as I would a Chinese laborer. I think the general want of the colony might be met by introducing immigrants from Barbados and the other islands. If we could get any from Africa we should be doing a good turn to the colony by introducing them. We have remnants of Africans here now and they are fine, sturdy men. Their families spend more money than the coolies, who retain their oriental style of dressing, and their expenditures are very limited. I regard the Chinese as better spending colonists than the East Indian cooly."
The immigration agent-general for British Guiana in his statement showed the number of East Indian laborers on the sugar estates in 1896 to be 71,777, and those not residing on sugar estates 43,972. “Practically all these,” he stated, “have be labor on sugar plantations. Until lately the most efficient labor was that of blacks and Chinese. The negro is by far the best of our laborers when he is industrious and under good supervision, but he is averse to continuous labor, and seldom cares to labor more than three or four days a week. Even in the days of high prices and good wages this was a serious drawback. As regards the general arrangements made for the Indian immigrants, I have nothing but admiration to express. The system has passed through successive stages of improvement, until it now stands as a pattern to all the world of successful and liberal management. Raw and ignorant coolies quickly become skilled workmen, drawing wages at rates unknown in their own country, and after their five years' indenture has expired, every chance is given them of starting with the knowledge and experience calculated to make them successful and independent settlers, while the numbers of occupations available give a wide scope for following most profitably individual tastes. I do not think it would be safe to allow the force of indentured labor to run below its present strength, as the indentured gangs give a certain amount of control which enables employers to insure continuous work at crop time and in emergencies."
COOLY LABOR DISCUSSED.
J. M. Rohlehr, M. D., a practicing physician, in a statement furnished the commission, said: “I am convinced that it is unnecessary to import more coolies. If a portion of the money spent on the importation of immigrants, the upkeep of the immigration department, dwellings, medicine, return passage, etc., were used in paying the black people a fair price for their labor, there would be an abundant supply of black labor on the sugar estates, for the black man prefers remaining near home rather than going to the gold fields. I have never found in my experience as an overseer that the black people have refused to work where the price offered them has been reasonable. Managers and overseers have grown into the habit of driving the black people away whenever they ask for an advance in prices, and telling them that coolies will do the work; but, as a matter of fact, the coolies find the task so hard that they can not earn more than three or four shillings a week. A good deal of black labor is lost to the estates through the want of knowledge on the part of overseers. The black laborer has to house himself and family, pay his medical adviser, contribute to the support of his church and school, clothe himself decently, and feed himself much better than the cooly, while the cooly is supplied with a house, doctor, and medicine, school for his children, and has a protector in the immigration department. It is plain that the black laborer must require more to keep him than the cooly; moreover, one black laborer can do as much work as two or three coolies, and yet not infrequently he is given only such work as will prevent him earning any more than the cooly."
In the inquiry made by the commission in Jamaica the following statements were made in reierence to cooly labor in that island. Rev. Henry Clark, member of the legislative council, said: “Cooly immigration has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, which was raised from the food and clothing of the native laborers, and the object has avowedly been to prevent an increase of the laborer's wages. Anything more unjust I can not conceive. I can testify that for the last fifty years there has always been an ample labor supply,” Mr. Philip Cook, protector of immigrants, testified that from about one-fourth to one-third of the indentured immigrants take advantage of the contract for their return to India at the expiration of the ten years. After their indentures have expired about 80 per cent continue work on the properties where they were employed under indenture, while others take employment on other properties, and a small proportion settle down to work in shops or buy or rent patches of land for their own homes.
Mr. William Morrison, a member of the council of the Royal Jamaica Society of Agriculture, and of the Commerce and Merchant Exchange, stated that “if some twenty years ago an enlightened liberal scheme of cooly immigration had been sanctioned here as was the case in British Guiana, the sugar industry would now have been in a more flourishing condition. The system of cooly immigration has had its local opponents, but their number every year is becoming less. The charges that used to be brought against it were: (1) That it was unnecessary; (2) that it served to pauperize the so-called free labor class; (3) that the coolies exercised a demoralizing effect throughout the lower ranks of the native population. In reply to the first claim that such immigration was not necessary, it was easily shown that employers of labor were annually obliged to contribute to the fund for importing labor, because they were unable to get an adequate supply of continuous labor in the island. Regarding the second complaint, the reply is that the West Indian laborer finds in the cooly not a competitor but a customer, as in Jamaica only a small proportion of the working people care to be engaged in hard labor. The facilities for acquiring land were so great and the natural desire of becoming land owners so strong that a large number of people preferred making a living on their own farms or freeholds. This preference is very commendable and natural, but has the effect of diminishing the supply of steady continuous labor for the planters. The existence in the colony of a large and constantly growing class oi land owners is a subject for general congratulation inasmuch as it served to swell the ranks of an honest industrious peasantry, but it is also to the interest of the community to maintain at its highest possible degree of efficiency the staple product of the colonysugar--and experience has shown that this can not be done without a sufficient supply of reliable labor, to which cooly immigration has in the past greatly contributed. Regarding the third charge, that the coolies are a constant danger to the rest of the community and exercise a demoralizing effect, the reply is that the West Indian cooly is a peaceable, industrious, and exemplary citizen. He makes use of the sayings bank to a greater extent than the members of any other class of laborers in the community. In industry and thrift he sets an excellent example, and immigration statistics show that the majority of the cooly immigrants become permanent settlers.”
A committee of the Jamaica Sugar Planters' Association, in its statements before the commission said: “The sugar estates using cooly labor could not get on without a constant supply of new coolies, because of the capriciousness of the native labor. We can not get native labor when we want it. Just about the spring when we want to get in our crops they go to their own ground, and we could not get on at all unless we employed coolies. The cooly labor is more expensive than negro labor, because we give them their wages and when sick we have to maintain them; and we have maintained their children who are not capable of working, and we pay £17 10s. per head for their importation. The difficulty with reference to native labor is not that we have not enough native labor to do the work, but we can not get them when we want them, particularly in the springtime, because they go to their own grounds and cultivate them.”
LABOR IN THE BRITISH EAST INDIES.
In the British East Indies the labor supply, in territory where the native population does not prove sufficient for this purpose, is obtained from comparatively near by territory and without definite contracts as to term of service. In Ceylon, where a large force of workmen is required during certain seasons of the year in handling the crops, especially tea, the labor supply is drawn chiefly from India, and the tide ebbs and flows with the requirements of the local situation, large numbers of Indian laborers and coolies passing from India into Ceylon at the beginning of the busy season and returning at its termination. The “Sinhales," or native laborers, says Mr. L. B. Clarence in his description of Ceylon in the British Empire Series, 1899, “do not care to engage permanently in cooly work on the estates, and a cheap and efficient labor supply was ready to hand in southern India, whence Tamil coolies flocked in by thousands. Without this singularly valuable labor supply the enterprise of opening the country to cultivation could hardly have succeeded. A little coffee was grown in the Dutch times, and some lingered on to our times, and at last attracted the attention of Englishmen with capital to invest. In 1824 the first coffee estate under European management was opened, and the enterprise after 1840 advanced with rapid strides. Most of the estates were opened on steep mountain faces. Then the estate had to be roaded with a network of carefully traced paths at well-planned gradients, and drains were cut to carry off the heavy rains and save the soil from being washed away. Then the coffee had to be planted in the clearings, and there was the store to put up, and the machinery and the planters' bungalow. About 1873 coffee planting reached its zenith. The yield was generous, and prices ruled high. Then disease attacked the bushes, and the artificial inflation rendered the downfall more headlong. Estates were sold for a mere song. Mortgagees and owners alike lost their money, and even coolies lost long arrears of wages at 8 pence or 9 pence a day. Cinchona was tried, and at first prospered. Then that product was attacked simultaneously by disease and a decline in the price of quinine. Then the planters turned their attention to tea. They had to provide an entirely new description of expensive machinery, and they had to learn and teach their work people an entirely new industry. All this was successfully accomplished, and now for many years tea has been thriving and paying enormously. Of the money expended in the island the greater part goes to the immigrant coolies from southern India. The number of Indian coolies on the tea and coffee estates of Ceylon, according to the colonial office list of 1891, is about 200,000. They are under no indentures and are free to quit on giving a month's notice. The total number of plantation laborers, including coolies born and settling in Ceylon as well as other races, is estimated at 250,000, out of a population of about 3,000,000.”
LABOR IN THE MALAYAN PENINSULA.
The labor supply of the Malayan peninsula, beyond that which is furnished by the natives, is chiefly drawn from China. Sir Andrew Clark, under whose direction as governor-general of the Straits Settlements British control was extended over the then disorganized and warring states of the Malayan peninsula, in a description of that work and of conditions in the Malayan peninsula, published in the British Empire Series 1899, says of the present labor supply: “The Malay States need population, the opening up of communications, and capital. Hitherto the labor market has been supplied almost solely by Chinese, and the experiment of colonization from India remains to be tried. There is no objection whatever to the experiment. Portions of India are becoming overpopulated by people who are ready and willing workers, such as the Malay States need for their full development. Under proper supervision, the excess labor of one country could be made to supply the wants of the other. I confess, however, that I am not sanguine of seeing this system of natural compensation going on within the limits the empire, and for many years at least it is from China that the Federated Malay States must obtain their labor. The Chinese secret society is a bugbear to some minds, and I may be pardoned for a brief reference to it. Secret societies are the natural and inevitable outcome of an arbitrary and oppressive government such as exists in China, and the Chinaman, having acquired the hereditary habit of creating such organizations, carries it with him to the country of his adoption. In China the secret society is doubtless almost entirely political, constituting a danger to the state. Transplanted to another country, it entails no necessary political dangers and becomes practically a species of guild for mutual protection, or the nature of a benefit or burial club. Try to suppress them altogether and you will drive them deeper below the surface and render them really dangerous. On the other hand, recognize them as long as they keep within the confines of the law, insist as far as possible upon open meetings and publicity of accounts and you will find them a powerful lever ready to your hand. You will be able to hold the leaders responsible for illegality; you may even manipulate the secret society to your own ends. This was the course pursued with success in the Malay States, and I am indebted to the chiefs of Chinese secret societies for support readily accorded as soon as they understood the principles upon which my action was based.”
VIEWS OF AMERICAN OFFICERS ON LABOR IN PORTO RICO AND THE PHILIPPINES. While the British have thus found it necessary to import labor into certain of their East and West Indian possessions, American officers in Porto Rico and the Philippines have expressed the belief that such importation is not necessary in those islands. General Davis, in a report made to the Government in 1899, and from which quotations are made elsewhere, expresses the belief that the native people of Porto Rico would, with proper encouragement, through the opening of roads and supply of communications with the Americans of the United States, supply most of the labor required, and that the remaining labor supply could readily be drawn from the adjacent islands, which are densely populated and whose population show a disposition to accept employment at reasonable rates of compensation if opportunity offers. In the Philippines. General MacArthur, in his recent report, expresses the belief that the Filipino natives will prove sufficient for the labor required in the islands. “Reiterated assertions that native labor in the Philippines is unreliable,” says General MacArthur in his report, "must be accepted as coming almost exclusively from Europeans who primarily are exploiters, pure and simple, and as such have absolutely no interest in the islands beyond the immediate realization of enormous profits. It has been found that when properly paid, the Filipino is precisely like any other man, and holds on to a good place by reason of fidelity and faithful service. In view of the foregoing premises, the military administration has rigidly enforced regulations excluding Chinese immigration from the islands, and further action is recommended looking to a gradual decrease of the Chinese now in the islands, by prohibiting the return of all individuals who have been absent for six months or who hereafter may absent themselves from the islands six months.”
Chief Quartermaster Swobe confirms General MacArthur's view, saying, “It has been my experience that any labor which can be performed by the Chinese can be performed equally well by the Filipinos, and the latter have marked advantages over the Chinese as they are more amenable to discipline, more active in their methods, more enthusiastic in their work, and more easily assimilated by the American workmen.”