Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward.
Sir: Referring to the circular of the department, dated January 17, 1867, relative to the Coolie trade, and calling the attention of the representatives abroad to the supposed abuses of this traffic, I have the honor to inclose herewith, for the information of the department, the translation of a decree of this government, granting an exclusive privilege to one [Page 930]Señor Poncio Darnaculleta to introduce here one thousand Chinese laborers within a period of four years. It will be seen that this decree provides for a voluntary engagement by these laborers in their own country, which fact must be certified by the authorities of the place where the contracts are made. It also provides that the transfers of these labor contracts in this country shall not extend beyond the term of the original agreement.
I have great doubts if these Chinese laborers can be successfully introduced here. Labor is yet, nominally at least, too cheap and abundant in this country, though it must be said, of such an indolent, uncertain, and indifferent character that it much needs the incentive example of a more industrious and patient class of workmen. In all mechanical branches the labor of the country (from the universal custom of weekly contracts, seldom renewed by the same laborer) is almost useless. The same laborer cannot be kept long enough to be taught the simplest matter of mechanical work.
For the successful working of the machinery which is now being extensively introduced, more constant and more skillful labor must be sought elsewhere—not, I think, however, among Coolie laborers.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.