No. 422.
Mr. Gibbs to Mr. Evarts.

No. 275.]

Sir: I beg to refer to my dispatch No. 239, of April 11 last, in reference to Chinese emigration. Information has been received that the English Government has issued strict orders that no emigrants will be [Page 734] allowed to embark from Hong-Kong to Peru. It is also stated here that the influence of that government will prevent emigration from any part of China to this country. Telegrams have been received here stating that the Perusia, the steamer of the Olyphant line, had left Hong-Kong, as before, without emigrants, and had put into Yokohama in distress. This matter has caused some excitement here in the press, and it is acknowledged by all that if the restriction is not removed it will be a great injury to Peru.

I inclose an editorial article from El Correo de Peru, a daily paper of this capital; and a translation of it. The charges against the planters are terrible if true. In 1875, I visited two or three of the largest plantations, and as far as I could see or judge, the Chinamen were apparently contented.

I repeat what I have written in former dispatches: there are numbers of Chinese in this city and Callao, and they enjoy all the rights and immunities that other foreigners hold 5 shops and stores in every part, and increasing in numbers. On the plantations away from cities or towns it may be that the treatment said to have been given, in the above article, is true.

I have been assured by reliable persons that on many plantations over 50 per cent, of the Chinese laborers have recontracted after having finished their first term, and on terms advantageous to the laborers.

In my dispatches No. 107, of November 13, 1876, and No. 147, of May 11, 1877, I inclosed copies of the treaty between this country and China, and of the contract entered into with the house of Olyphant & Co., which I beg to refer to. According to these documents it was understood that immigration was to be free, the Chinamen to make their contracts here.

The press have discussed the affair freely, some writers accusing England of acting egotistically in the matter, but the opinion is that something may be done to overcome the obstacles placed by that government on free emigration to this country.

I inclose an article from the South Pacific Times of this date in relation to the affair.

If China had a representative here, either direct from Peking or through one of the foreign ministers, a great difference could be made in the status of the Chinaman, and charges of injustice or ill-treatment would be examined and inquired into.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 275.—Translation.]

Chinese immigration.

The spirit of speculation to which the world owes so much in its progress has with us two indelible stains: the traffic of negroes in colonial times, and -the yet more infamous traffic of the Chinese in the last 30 years. The negro and the Chinaman have sustained agriculture on this coast for nearly 200 years, notwithstanding the fate of one for a century and a half was slavery, and the other was, and is, worse than that. The negro, when torn from his country, nearly always passed from one state of slavery to another—from the savage life of Africa to the semi-civilized one of the colonies. The master—Spaniard or native—was a species of feudal lord, who looked upon the negro as a servant of himself and family; consequently he offered him protection and hound him to his lands and family, fed him well, made him a Christian, and gave him matrimony, and had an interest that he should increase and multiply. The descendants of the slave grew up with the sons of his master, took his name, and, although [Page 735] they wore the chains of slavery, there was somebody to care for them; they lived; and the type of masters like the Count of Vista-Florida—a planter of Huaca—were not rare, who said to his overseer, “The day that my plantation produces more than $6,000 a year I will discharge you, for I know what the work of my negroes should produce.”

The Chinaman, when shipped aboard of one of those cursed vessels that brought him to Peru, lost liberty, country, family, the chance of being a man of love, and ceased to exist only to suffer and vegetate on our plantations; more degraded than the negro because he was more intelligent; more of a slave because he was not one man’s slave, a feudal lord, but of money-seeking men who knew by virtue of the contract that at the end of eight years he would be free if he could; and we say if he could, because there are plantations where Chinamen have entered and have not yet left.

For 30 years, from 1846 to 1874, China has provided hands for our fields, and for 30 years these fields have been soaked daily with the blood of these unfortunates, who, hungry, half-naked, with torn flesh, and ulcerated hearts, might ask, is there a God? and for 30 years no one has heard their cries, with the exception of Mr. Manuel Pardo, who named, if we mistake-not, in 1874, a commission to investigate if the monstrous crimes of certain planters were true. The commission did little and revealed less.

Outside of this humane intention the Chinaman up to the present has not had the least protection. The only protest of these unfortunates, who should have risen en masse, has been two or three outbreaks which has made their condition worse. There is nothing exaggerated in all we say. No drawing of the most somber colors could be sufficient to describe the condition of the Chinaman in Peru, and with the exception of the plantations of the Puente and of Mr. Urianne and two or three others it could be said that they are prisoners, compared with which the seat of the galley slave is a paradise.

The Chinaman is made to work from four in the morning until six in the evening, as it cannot be considered as rest the two hours from eleven till one of the day given them to prepare their food under the burning sun of our coast. They receive a ration of rice insufficient to restore their strength. They are paid one sol in paper per week when they are paid; they are discounted one real per day when sickness impedes them from work; they are whipped when not completing their task; they are chained when they seek liberty; they are killed, they are burned alive and dead. Exaggeration? Nothing of the kind. Aboard of the vessels the purchasers of the Chinese have marked their “cattle” with blue stone so that they would not get mixed, as they all looked alike. Was it the dead only that were burned? Let the town of San Pedro answer for us. And who are these executioners? They are the rich, industrious planters whom the government has respected as useful men, producers and workmen, gentlemen who wear gloves, who in the city are agitated if it is asked to kill mad dogs, and who on their plantations lash open the flesh of an unfortunate while they smoke their cigarettes. And for what? Because he would or could not work more than his strength permitted.

As there is no iniquity that is everlasting nor crimes that do not cover distances, the iniquities committed with the Chinaman has awakened the indignation of the world, and England, who, if she is mercantile and speculative, is philanthropic and just, after destroying the African slave-trade, stops that of the Chinese, and now the home office, Count Carnavon, has given this order to Governor Hennessy of Hong-Kong: “Concede no license for emigration to Peru.” A just resolution, which is a reproach to anterior governments and a punishment of our faults toward the Chinaman, who, until lately, accused us daily under the garb of mendicity.

This measure which impedes Asiatic emigration will give trouble to our agriculturists, increasing the price of products, reducing return shipments, in a word will do great damage to the country; withal we deserve it.

What will result from it? A change in the system of the treatment of the laborer, and also in cultivation, for if things remain as they are the land cannot be held in few hands; it will have to be divided and subdivided among small proprietors, colonists, and tenants who will cultivate with their families, which will be an economical and social progress, because these small farmers, these colonists, these tenants will increase the production and will be interested in the peace and stability of the government.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 275.]

Chinese immigration.

We learn that Messrs. Olyphant & Co.’s steamship Perusia, announced by us last week as having left China, may shortly be expected here from the Japanese port of Yokahama, into which she had to put in distress. We regret, however, that she has no emigrants on board, as it was expected she would have, owing to certain local influence [Page 736] brought to hear in the matter; hut we have reason to hope that these objections, whatever they may be, will shortly be overcome through the exertions of Dr. Elmore, the Peruvian envoy.

The present check to the expected immigration of free Chinese laborers, although very unfortunate for Peru, does not by any means warrant the views expressed by some of our Lima contemporaries, that such immigration is impossible. It is necessary to concede that owing to the former ill treatment of Chinese laborers, Peru has much evil prestige to conquer in Asia; and this was clearly the reason why no emigrants were allowed to leave Hong-Kong, the port first tried. A second trial at a Chinese port, Canton, appears to have been unsuccessful through adverse influences which were, as far as it appears, of a local, and, therefore, it is to be presumed, of a temproary nature.

Appeal to the central government of China is now being made through the duly accredited Peruvian minister at Peking, and it would seem a simple thing to decide whether the Chinese government will maintain the solemn treaty entered into with Peru or whether this important instrument will be set aside. The plea that Chinese have been maltreated in Peru is only valid so far as it affects the coolie system; free immigration has not been tried, and it is unjust to this country to judge the issue before it arises, unfair to assume that laborers coming here under protection of special treaty will be treated as were those who were brought from their homes in defiance of law and of humanity. The question touches too vitally Peru’s agricultural future to he set aside until all honest means have been exhausted, and those now being proved, the demands for enforcement of the treaty permitting free emigration, may, and we trust will, remove the only present existing obstacle to such a volume of immigration as will vastly aid the resources of this country.

We shall, when the times arrives, express our views on the subject of how simple and efficient safeguards may be provided against any malicious abuse of these laborers.