to Mr. Bayard.
St. Petersburg, July 13, 1888. (Received August 1.)
Sir: Referring to Mr. Lothrop’s dispatch No. 176 of the 30th of last May, on the subject of the opening of the railway to Samarcand, I have the honor to transmit to you, herewith inclosed, a copy and translation of an article from the Journal de St. Pétersbourg of the 11th instant, giving further information about the construction, advantage, and prospects of this new line of commerce, and touching upon points of interest to a branch of our own trade, the exportation of cotton.
In Mr. Lothrop’s dispatch above mentioned reference is made to the construction of a railway through Siberia to the Pacific Ocean. In connection with this subject I had, a few days ago, a conversation with General Annenkoff, the distinguished officer to whose extraordinary energy this country owes the rapid completion of the line to Samarcand. He was very enthusiastic about this Siberian line, and said that the Emperor was highly favorable to the project and to its execution with the utmost speed. The general wishes to extend this channel of communication even further, and to effect a connection, through the Aleutian Islands, with a line on the American side of the Pacific coast; and I have reason to believe that it is his intention to endeavor to interest American capitalists in this enterprise. The general is a man of great determination of character and he will, doubtless, before a very distant day, accomplish the first part of his scheme.
The chief importance of the road through Siberia, in the eye of a [Page 1408] military government, is that it shall enable Russia to throw a body of troops into her possessions on the Pacific to serve as an offset to the line from the Atlantic to the Pacific on British territory. But this road also can not fail to have considerable commercial advantages. Many products of China and of other Asiatic countries would take that direction instead of following the old beaten tracks by sea to the markets of the west. For the colonization of Siberia, the southern portion of which is rich in its soil and in minerals and only requiring people there to develop its resources, this road would give valuable assistance to the Imperial Government in its efforts to divert its surplus population from seeking fortune abroad.
At present the number of emigrants who yearly go from European Russia to settle in Siberia is about 40,000, but there has been a sensible increase in this number since the completion of the railway to Orenburg on the Siberian frontier; and this new line will draw with it at its different stages towards the end thousands of settlers to the fertile valleys and plains near the Chinese border.
I am, etc.,