Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 2, 1878
to Mr. Evarts.
Lima, Peru, February 11, 1878.
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my dispatch No. 194, of September 10, and No. 203 of October 19 last, relative to intentions of inducing Chinese immigration from San Francisco to Peru.
I inclose an advertisement from one of the papers of this capital, signed by the Peruvian consul-general at San Francisco, who offers to act as agent or contractor. I inclose an article from the South Pacific Times on the subject, which embodies a translation of the advertisement except the last part, which I append in writing.
I am, &c.,
Chinese immigration from San Francisco.
[From the South Pacific Times, Saturday, February 9, 1878.]
The Lima papers have recently published the basis of a contract for the immigration of Chinese laborers from San Francisco to this country, signed and forwarded by [Page 722] Señor La Fuente, the Peruvian consul-general in San Francisco. We presume it to be an evidence that the gentlemen who proceeded to California a few months ago for the purpose of seeing what could be done in this matter, have now a prospect of satisfactorily accomplishing the purpose of their mission.
The contract in question apparently offers no objectionable features, while the Chinaman is thereby placed on a much better footing than has hitherto been the case with his class.
It is to be hoped this will result in a large influx of labor, of which the plantations are at present in such urgent need, but the permanent success of the scheme undoubtedly rests with the planters themselves, who, if many accounts be true, do not invariably treat their coolies with that consideration to which, as hired laborers and fellow-men, they are entitled.
Slavery is no longer an institution of this country, although many of the wretched plantation hands are or have been treated as little better than slaves, in innumerable instances. It has invariably been the case, however, where such has been the policy of the planter, that he has incurred great loss and inconvenience through the desertion and self-destruction of his laborers, goaded to desperation by the brutality of their cruel task-masters. On the other hand, where the Chinamen have been humanely treated, they have amply repaid it, and on the expiration of their contracts, have willingly renewed them, or at least continued to labor on the plantations in return for moderate remuneration.
If the stipulations of the new contracts be strictly adhered to and enforced by the legislature, we see no reason why the Chinaman should be dissatisfied with his lot in this country, and why the labor question should continue to preoccupy the mind of the agriculturist, who, as we said before, clearly holds the remedy in his own hands.
The following are the particulars of the contract it is proposed to establish:
The Chinamen will be employed in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service, but not in the guano deposits.
They will work ten hours per day, save on Sundays, on the three days when the Chinese new year is celebrated, and Good Friday. In case it should be absolutely necessary for him to work beyond the ten hours, he will be paid ten cents silver for every hour in excess, be it night or day; the same will be paid him on feast-days if he wishes to work.
The Chinaman agrees to work for his master during three years (this is what they propose now, but it will most probably be extended to five), and if he is dissatisfied he may leave his service, but he will give two months’ notice of such intention and will pay him $80 in American gold, in addition to the 24 soles hereafter mentioned, and the master may transfer the contract if dissatisfied with the Chinaman or for any other cause.
Señor La Fuente or his representative will provide the Chinaman with a free passage to Peru, and will give him in San Francisco a month’s wages in advance, to be deducted from his wages in Lima in two equal monthly proportions. Señor La Fuente may transfer this contract to any person in Peru.
The employer will pay to the Chinamen at the end of every month 18 soles in Peruvian silver money, and will provide him with a free habitation, food, tools, water, and fuel daily, during the existence of his contract; he will also find medical attendance and supply him with two pairs of trowsers and two blouses a year for his work.
The food of the Chinaman will consist of a pound and a half of rice and vegetables and fish every day, and meat twice a week. If the Chinaman prefers to feed himself, his master will give him the equivalent in silver.
If a Chinaman, through his own fault or sickness, should miss a day’s work, or more, those days will be deducted from his wages.
If a Chinaman runs away and is subsequently recaptured, the time he has been, absent from work will be added to that specified in the contract.
The Chinaman will refund to his master 24 soles in Peruvian silver soles, the cost of his voyage, at the rate of one sole per month, or more if he wishes.
The master will pay any taxes which may be levied on the Chinaman in conformity with the laws of the country.
The Chinaman will not be whipped or degraded, and he compromises himself to do his work faithfully and diligently. It is understood that the payment for extra work, the exemption from work on the feast-days specified, and the gift of clothes does not refer to Chinamen in domestic service.
The consul estimates the cost of transport from California to Peru at s60.20, American gold, per head, but this would be cheaper if the passage were made by sailing-vessel.
Those persons desirous of securing labor on the foregoing conditions may do so by remittance of funds and application by telegraph or otherwise to Señor La Fuente.
|Commission to Señor La Fuent as agent||s15.00|
|Extra charges, including $1 for consul certificate||2.00|
|For advance of one month’s salary||s13.60|
|For passage to Panama per steamer||30.00|
|For passage to Callao from Panama per steamer||20.00|
|Deduct amount repaid by Chinaman||20.40|
By this calculation the sol is valued at 85 cents, American money. Price of passage from San Francisco to Panama may be less; that from Panama to Callao is, I believe; no one can supply this demand cheaper than myself.
By sailing-vessel, passage-money would be one-half less. The Chinese principals of the houses with whom I am in relations prefer to make the contract with a person who represents an official character, taking that as a greater guarantee that the contract will be carried out.
Planters or persons who wish to send me their orders may do so by telegraph and remit money with the conditions and instructions they may deem necessary, through some of the commercial houses of Lima.
Allow me to recommend Messrs. Graham, Rowe & Co., whose correspondent in San Francisco is the respectable house of Hellman Bros. & Co.
Consul-General of Peru.