Harper’s Weekly, August 14, 1869, pages 514-515 (Editorial)
A coolie is a Chinese slave, bound for a longer or shorter time, and in February, 1862, Congress very properly forbade the importation of coolies from China. This was done because the coolie trade was already large and increasing; and one firm in California is understood to have imported more than 30,000 during the last eight years. This fact alone would go far to prove their value as laborers, which is, however, otherwise fully attested, the most interesting article upon the subject being one by Mr. Pumpelly in the Galaxy for July. The Chinese laborer, it appears by conclusive testimony, is industrious, docile, faithful, efficient, and works for small wages, as is to be expected of those who can live at home upon two dollars a year. In the Flowery Kingdom of more than 200,000,000 inhabitants, which it is supposed might be conquered by an army of 50,000 trained European soldiers skillfully led, there is, of course, an exhaustless supply of such laborers; and, as Mr. Adams well says, when we break down the Chinese wall to let ourselves in we let them out.
A person named Koopmanschaap, a Hollander by birth and a coolie contractor, was recently the lion of the day in New York, having previously been the hero of the Memphis Convention which assembled to devise means of supplying the Southern States with labor. The sentiment of the Convention seems to have been expressed by Mr. J.W. Clapp, who remarked that "the South" did not wish European laborers, as they wanted to own land, while, in his opinion, "the South" preferred labor that could be managed "as of old." In other words, he thought that "the South" wanted an ignorant, brutish, servile population of laborers, instead of intelligent, industrious, self-respecting workmen. Mr. Koopmanschaap was evidently the right man to gratify such a desire. In reply to the question of a report in New York, the coolie contractor said that in the Southern States "nothing but coerced labor will bring about prosperity." Mr. Koopmanschaap had apparently overlooked the law of which we spoke, and which forbids any citizen or foreign resident in this country to prepare any kind of vessel for the purpose of bringing coolies "to be disposed of, or sold, or transferred, for any term of years or for any time whatever, as servants or apprentices, or to be held to service or labor." Of course the law does not forbid free and voluntary emigration.
The inducements for honest emigration to this country are so palpable and persuasive, the flood is always sure to be so large, and the difficulties incident to a rapid increase of the resident foreign population in the present circumstances of the country are so evident, that nothing is more imperative than the prevention of this illicit emigration. America has an endless welcome for the industrious laborer who comes hither to secure larger opportunities for himself and his children, but no country welcomes an inundation of foreign barbarism. Nothing, indeed, can be more absurd or more characteristic than the resolutions of the Democratic Convention in California virtually denouncing the Chinese laborers who have been brought here; for they are innocent, and the resolutions merely stimulate a local hostility already enough inflamed. Besides, the Chinese movement has begun, and will not be stayed. The wise course is to restrain it within its natural limits by rigidly preventing the opening of a new slave-trade under the name of encouraging emigration.
Meanwhile any artificial and immense increase of a population in the Southern States which, as Mr. Koopmanschaap remarks, must supplant the colored laborers, with the probable annexation of Cuba and a million and a half of Spanish creoles and slaves, opens a prospect which need dismay no one, but which is not necessarily delightful. It is not the number of the population but its quality that makes a great nation; nor do abundant labor and cheap wages announce an imminent millennium. The power of assimilation of a nation like ours is indeed immense; and all that can be asked is that it be reasonably treated.
Harper’s Weekly, August 14, 1869, pages 514-515 (Editorial)

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