Harper’s Weekly, August 31, 1867, pages 546-547 (Editorial)
During the week ending July 20 nearly eleven hundred coolies were landed in Cuba. Two thousand, whose terms of service have expired in Cuba, are to be introduced into Louisiana, and it is a matter to which public attention should be intelligently directed. Webster defines cooly as an East Indian porter or carrier. The name coolies is applied distinctively to the laborers of India and China. The former never emigrate spontaneously, as we learn from an elaborate article in the Tribune, but they are removed through the agency of emigration officers of the French and Danish Governments to the colonies of those Powers. Mauritius receives the larger number. In the year 1865 the British West Indies received about four thousand, which was less than an average supply. These coolies engage under a contract of five or ten years, and five-sixths of them usually return home at the end of their term. Their treatment in the colonies depends upon the local authorities. In Demerara the system has worked well. In Jamaica, where the planters seem to be the most impracticable of men, it has wholly failed.
The Chinese cooly emigration is much larger. Many go to Australia to dig gold, or to engage in trade. Many are drawn by the gold to California, and they are there monopolizing the railroad work. Thirty or forty thousand coolies are annually sent by agents to Peru and Cuba. These agents, as may be supposed, are not of good character. Only males are sent, and they generally contract for eight years. The passage is a kind of middle passage of the old African slave-trade, and there are frequent mutinies. A late writer describes the Indian cooly as mild and tractable and the Chinese as the reverse; but while the Chinese despises his white master as of an inferior race, the Indian hates him. The Indian is less bound to his native land than the Chinese, but he is less strong, and a more inefficient laborer. Their wants are few, they work steadily, and they are satisfied with small wages.
Is it desirable that the population of the Southern States of this country should be increased by such accessions? These people are the lowest and in every way the least desirable portion of nations the most alien to us and our civilization. They are not needed as laborers; and their introduction into a section of the country in which the traditions and habits of slavery are still fresh could result only in establishing a new form of slavery, and infinitely perplexing and delaying the natural and desirable consequences of emancipation. The acts of Congress of February 12, 1862, and July 4, 1864, were leveled at the trade in coolies by American vessels, and are plainly intended to prevent their wholesale importation into the country. It is ridiculous to treat the business of cooly emigration as the free and voluntary passage of foreigners into the country, and if the existing acts are not sufficient to prevent it new acts should be passed. No greater disadvantage to this country can well be conceived than the unnatural addition of hundreds of thousands of the worst kind of Hindoos and Chinese to the population of the Southern States, composed as at present half of newly emancipated slaves and half of a sullen, late slaveholding class, hostile to the Government, despising the freedmen, and the more willing to gratify their habits of absolute control over the laborer if it can be done in a way plainly perilous to the country.
Natural and legitimate immigration we would not, of course, repel. But a wholly artificial and unnecessary and pernicious increase of the population we would strenuously oppose. If it was an incalculable blunder as well as crime to allow the African slave-trade, it is not less so to tolerate the cooly importation.
Harper’s Weekly, August 31, 1867, pages 546-547 (Editorial)

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