Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham

No. 1794.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of a communication received from the Tsung-li-Yamên, wherein I am requested to instruct the consuls at the various Chinese ports to prohibit vessels of the United States from transporting coolies to Brazil. I inclose, also, a copy of my reply thereto.

Formerly this subject was specifically treated in the Consular Regulations. (See Consular Regulations, 1881, p. 115, par. 347 et seq.) These sections were omitted from the Consular Regulations of 1888. On page 109 of these regulations it is stated that the provisions of the acts of Congress, Revised Statutes, sections 2158–2162, relating to the importation of coolies, are practically suspended by the act of July 5, 1884, and for that reason they are not reproduced.

This construction is rather narrow, and should not, in my opinion, find a place in any new edition of the regulations. It is true that sections 2158–2162, Revised Statutes, 1878, are superseded by the act of July 5, 1884, and later acts, so far as transportation of coolies to the United States is affected, but the said sections are not limited in their scope to the question of transportation to the United States alone. Section 2158 is applicable to the transportation of coolies “subjects of China or Japan or any other oriental country, from any port or place to any foreign port or place.”

The general subject of transporting coolies was discussed by this legation as early as 1871.

I have the honor, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Page 137]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 1794.]

The Tsung-li-Yamên to Mr. Denby.

The prince and ministers have the honor to state that they have recently received a communication from the governor-general of the two Kuang provinces to effect that the advertisement for coolies at Macao for foreign countries has for years been distinctly prohibited.

During the month of September last certain persons had posters put up on the streets inviting coolies to embark for Brazil, that the German steamer Tetartos had been chartered for the purpose of carrying them thither, and the governor-general requested the Yamên to investigate the matter and have instructions issued prohibiting this traffic.

The Yamên would observe that no rules have been arrived at between Brazil and the Chinese Government in the matter of the exportation of coolies to Brazil, and the Brazilians have no right to privately seek the employment of coolies at Macao. Furthermore, steamers of all nations have no right to be engaged in carrying coolies to Brazil. The Yamên has written to Baron Schenck, the German minister, requesting him to instruct the German consuls at the treaty ports to prohibit the carrying on (by German vessels) of this traffic.

The Yamên has further received a note from the inspector-general of customs stating that he has heard that there are one or two vessels at Macao for the purpose of transporting coolies abroad.

The Yamên now, besides having addressed his excellency the Portuguese minister on the subject, as in duty bound, addresses this communication to the minister of the United States, requesting him to instruct the U. S. consuls at the various ports to look into this matter and prohibit the vessels of the United States from engaging in the transportation of coolies to Brazil, thus consolidating the friendly relations between the two countries, which is a matter of importance.

A necessary communication addressed to His Excellency Charles Denby, U. S. minister.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 1794.]

Mr. Denby to the Tsung-li-Yamên.

The minister of the United States has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the communication of the prince and ministers of the 21st instant. The prince and ministers therein request the minister of the United States to instruct the U. S. consuls at the various ports to look into this matter and prohibit the vessels of the United States from engaging in the transportation of coolies to Brazil.

The minister of the United States, in reply, takes pleasure in stating that the laws of the United States prohibit, under heavy penalties, the use of American vessels for the transportation of coolies from China, or any other place, to be held to service or labor in any other country. Such transportation is permissible only when the emigration is voluntary, and the consuls must give certificates stating that fact. The attention of the consuls will be called to this law and they will be directed to enforce it strictly.

The minister of the United States avails, etc.

Charles Denby.