No. 390.
Mr. Comly to Mr. Evarts.

No. 148.]

Sir: By the courtesy of the Hawaiian Government in furnishing printed copies, and the steamer being already one day overdue, I am enabled to transmit copies of a note received from the Hawaiian minister of foreign affairs this morning, setting forth at great length the needs and difficulties of the Hawaiian Islands with regard to procuring immigrants, both for mere laborers and for increase of population, especially of females, the males being now largely in excess.

A commissioner of immigration (Attorney-General Armstrong) accompanies “Alii Kalakaua” on his tour around the world, under instructions to make inquiries in all lands in regard to possible immigrants for the Hawaiian Islands. As the commissioner will pass through the United States, and will probably make inquiries, more especially as to the possibility of procuring immigrants from the exodus of Southern colored laborers, I respectfully commend him to your good offices.

I have, &c.,

[Page 618]
[Inclosure in No. 148.]

Mr. Green to Mr. Comly.

No. 6.]

Sir: I have already informed you, under date of 15th instant, that His Majesty proposes to make a tour around the world, visiting first some of the principal countries of the East, en route for Europe.

I have now the honor to inform you that His Majesty will be accompanied on this journey by his excellency William Nevins Armstrong, who has been appointed royal commissioner of immigration.

One of the main objects of this appointment is to enable this government to obtain the best possible information, in the different countries through which the royal commissioner may pass, regarding the different races which inhabit them, in the hope that some one or more may be found that may prove, in all respects, a suitable people to introduce into this kingdom, to assist in replenishing the population, and I have to beg that you will kindly lend this government your valuable assistance in obtaining the information they desire.

In order to enable you to form some idea of the kind of information this government desires, it may be well if I state in as few words as possible some of our special needs, or, I may perhaps say, some of the special difficulties with which this subject is surrounded.

This group of islands contains a comparatively large area of productive land still unbroken by the plow, and it will perhaps give a better idea of its undeveloped capacities if I say, what I believe is within due limits, that if the group were peopled as thickly as, say, the volcanic island of Mauritius, estimating on the basis of arable land in each only, it could support a population of nearly a million souls, whilst the actual population of the group to-day is about 60,000 only, of which the pure native population is not over 44,000, and has been so far steadily decreasing.

The main and most profitable productions of the country are sugar and rice, and the demand for labor for cultivating these articles is large. This demand has been met to a large extent by the importation of the inhabitants of Madeira and the Azores, Polynesians from various islands in the South Pacific, and by Chinese. Unfortunately none of these quite meet all the requirements. The people from Madeira and the Azores are perhaps a little above the requirements in some respects—that is, as simple laborers—or at all events they seem more adapted for working small cattle-ranches or other enterprises on their own account than for working as laborers on plantations; still they are an excellent addition to our population and bring their families with them.

With regard to the Polynesians, we may be said to be in the stage of experiment. Some of those who have taken most interest in them and have had the most experience, doubt whether we can count upon this race to form a permanent and fruitful addition to our population. The circumstance which would seem to present itself as so desirable—viz, that they are the same race as our own people—may perhaps be the one which will prevent them from staying the heretofore excessive death-rate of this race in the Hawaiian Islands.

The Chinamen, of which we had 6,000 in 1878, and large numbers have arrived since, and indeed are now pouring in on their own account, are unexceptionable as laborers, whether on their own account or working for others, but unfortunately they do not bring their women with them, and it may be necessary soon to forbid the men pouring in upon us without their families, the disproportion of the sexes and deficiency of females being already too great in this group. It is also objected that the Chinese as a body never can become good citizens of any country but China, and that the franchise and right of citizenship, which by our laws are so easily acquired here, would not be a safe power to entrust them with, in view of the large numbers which now threaten to come amongst us.

A good many European immigrants are on the way to this kingdom, principally Norwegians and Germans, but it may perhaps be doubted whether this group of tropical islands will form an exception to the principal sugar-growing countries of the world, and be able to maintain a working peasantry of pure European blood. At any rate, some of the strong and industrious tropical races are likely to prove more economical as field hands.

In this dilemma the government have been referred to the Eastern Archipelago, where no doubt industrious and prolific tropical races exist, but whether it is a feasible project to transplant them at all, or whether if transplanted, they would, under the totally new circumstances and surroundings, continue to labor and to increase as they seem to do in their own islands, are problems which I do not profess to be able to solve, but I have some doubt about the success of such an attempt.

A considerable number of our planters and others have often called the attention of [Page 619] this government to British India, and to the introduction into this group of what is known as the British India cooly system. It is a matter of general knowledge that East India coolies under a system worked out with extreme care, and by the combined action of the British, the Indian, and the different colonial governments, have enabled British colonial planters to grow immense quantities of sugars at prices which can compete in the markets of the world with the produce of any other country.

It is natural that our planters should look upon a well-regulated supply of the cheapest class of labor with favorable eyes, especially as having the advantage of a reciprocity treaty with the United States, which gives them an enhanced price for their main productions over what they could obtain in the markets of the world, the two combined—that is, the highest price for their produce and the cheapest system of labor to be got—would be very profitable.

To obtain British Indian laborers, a special arrangement with Great Britain would be necessary. This government has already taken some steps in this direction, but the conclusion to which His Majesty’s present advisers have arrived is that it is not desirable to press this matter upon the attention of the British Government at present, or at least whilst the British regulations which the system seems to necessitate remain in force. Could this country obtain from British India a few thousand East Indians with their wives and families, such people as could be allowed to remain in the country, become Hawaiian subjects, and be part of our population, the government would consider it a great boon, and it is rather in this direction that our commissioner will be directed to make inquiries. There are no doubt many difficulties in the way, and perhaps none is more prominent than that even the British colonies which have availed themselves of East Indian labor have been unable to obtain the low proportion of 40 East Indian women to 140 people, and the island of Mauritius, which may be said to be almost a part of India, has a population, mainly composed of East Indian coolies, in which the proportion of males to females is extremely large, and such as it would not be right for this kingdom to contemplate as a permanent condition of affairs.

However, as I have already intimated, this government is of opinion that it is neither politic nor consistent with the general principles of a constitutional government to attempt to organize a system for the introduction of great numbers of mere laborers who could not well become part of the population, but would be governed by the few who possess the lands and the capital, but rather it should be their policy to encourage the introduction of people who, although they might be able to command a somewhat higher rate of wages, would become part of the people, with the franchise and other rights of citizens.

In fine, the policy of this government is to endeavor to supply this country with population rather than simply with laborers, and if you can kindly by correspondence, printed matter, or otherwise, assist our commissioner in his efforts to obtain information which may conduce to this end, you will add another favor to the many great, ones which the representatives of foreign nations have conferred upon this country.

I take this opportunity to renew the assurances of the high respect and consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

Minister of Foreign Affairs.