to Mr. Fish.
Lima, Peru, December 13, 1873. (Received December 30.)
Sir: A few days since a committee of seven respectable Chinese residents of this city called upon me, to ask my assistance in opening for them communication with the government of China. In reply to my inquiry as to the objects they had in view, I was informed that the committee represented a Chinese society of this city, and desired to acquaint the Chinese government of the true condition and treatment [Page 796] of the coolies who are residing in Peru. This information was to be furnished to counteract attempts which have been made, and were to be continued, to inculcate the belief in China that the coolie trade ought to be encouraged, and to induce the Chinese government to make the diplomatic representative of Portugal, near the government of Peru, the medium of communication between the Chinese government and its subjects in Peru.
In reply, I turned the attention of the deputation to the nature of my relations to the Peruvian government, which forbids my interference with the internal regulations of this republic wherein citizens of the United States are not concerned. I was not at liberty to discuss or find fault myself with the policy of Peru on this subject, and could not with propriety become instrumental in opening and conducting a discussion as to the wisdom or policy of Peruvian laws concerning a portion of the laboring population of that country, and advised the committee to send any communication they desired to make to the Chinese government through the mail.
I saw no impropriety in addressing their communications to the care of the United States legation in China.
At the conclusion of the interview the committee asked me to make known to the Secretary of State their visit to me and its object, which I promised to do. This interview prompts me to say to the Secretary of State that I have confidence in the repugnance repeatedly declared by the minister of foreign affairs and the President of Peru for the coolie trade. It is not, however, easy to arrest this inhuman traffic. Labor is much needed by the agriculturists and railroad contractors, and these classes combined can exercise control on the Congress of Peru.
The coolie trade will be arrested if the mission recently sent from Peru to China is successful in their undertaking, which has for its object an emigration from China to Peru of laborers, with their wives and children, protected by treaty stipulations between the two governments; and looking to the crowded condition of the population of China, and the need of labor for the development of the immense latent values of Peru, it seems that the cause of humanity and civilization would be promoted if the Peruvian mission to China results in au understanding on this subject of emigration between the governments of the two nations.
I am, &c,