No. 23.
Mr. Partridge to Mr. Fish.

No. 324.]

Sir: The remarkable falling off in the production of sugar in Brazil, and especially in the provinces to the north of Rio de Janeiro, has for [Page 27] some time occupied attention here, and has caused during the past year a large reduction in the receipts from the export-duties.

This diminution of production for export (which has become so prominent, within the last four years especially) has now almost reached the point of cessation.

In Bahia this is true particularly, as well as in the other provinces, and has caused anxiety to the government as well as to the planters.

These last have frequently declared that, with the burden of the export-duty (now reduced) of 9 per cent. ad valorem to the imperial treasury and 4 per cent. to the province, (6 per cent. in the province of Bahia,) making 13 per cent., (and 15 per cent.,) it was impossible for them to continue sugar-making in competition with the West Indies, especially the French islands, and the planters of Demerara—English, Dutch, and French—as well as with Cuba and Porto Rico. In all these colonies and countries the latest improvements in sugar-mills and machinery have been introduced, as well as improved agricultural implements; and they are under the system of free labor now established there, with the single exception of Cuba. And it is to be noted that in Brazil, where the system of slave labor still prevails, in the hitherto sugar-growing provinces especially, and where formerly sugar was produced, perhaps more cheaply than in any other country, and, with the exception of Cuba, more abundantly than elsewhere, now, under the improvements in its manufacture in free-labor countries, this culture here has become unprofitable, and is absolutely falling off to complete cessation for export.

In great measure, of course, this result is attributable to the heavy export-duty. But another cause is to be found in the slovenly mode of culture, in the habits always engendered and pursued in countries where slavery prevails, the want of enterprise in introducing the latest improvements, the neglect to properly renew the cuttings and to refresh the cane by new importations, in the want of capital for the introduction of machinery, and finally, in the last years, in the high price obtained for coffee. This has tempted many planters in the northern provinces to sell or bring their slaves into the coffee-growing region immediately north, south, and west of Rio, and, in many cases, in Bahia, Pernambuco, and Maranham, has caused the abandonment of sugar-culture in order to commence coffee-growing on the highlands and interior plateaus of those provinces.

One of the journals in Rio, in an article on the subject, prints the following words:

If there is any one who still doubts whether the sugar industry in Brazil has fallen into decay—that culture which was so flourishing in all times since the dominion of the house of Nassau until very recently—he has only to step into the national exposition of our industrial products now being holden in the capital, and there he will see what thing, in quality, is the article we call sugar, and which we export from this country to compete, in foreign markets, with the fine and beautiful product which comes forth from the co-operative sugar-mills and machinery of Egypt, Mauritius, and Martinique. He will soon be convinced that, in the English market, they have reason on their side when they reject with disdain the sugar that comes from Brazil.

It thus appears that the main cause of the falling off is to be found in the old fashioned and inferior quality of the sugar now produced in Brazil, while that grown in free-labor countries, and prepared by proper and improved machiuery, has, at even greater cost of production, (though free from export-duty,) nearly driven the Brazilian product from the market.

I am, &c.,