THE MIGRATIONS OF LABOUR.
Is the late Sir George Cayley's visions of ballooning had been realized, and we could survey the globe at pleasure from on high, one of the strangest spectacles now witnessed by aerial voyagers would be the perplexities and cross purposes, and the consequent waste, and voyaging and travelling, of the employers of labour resident in a broad zone of the globe. Any observer looking down upon the seas of the world, and seeing the cargoes of la- bourers passing to and fro, crossing and recrossing one another's path, landed on islands whose inhabitants were carried away to make room for them, or themselves deported to make room for expected strangers, might imagine mankind gone mad on the subject of tilling the land, or bent on playing a costly and awk- ward game, in which nobody unconcerned in it could see any fun. If we cannot mount above the clouds, to get a bird's-eye view of the migration of labourers in this year 1858, we can see, from our insular station, a good deal of what is going on. One can scarcely open a newspaper from any part of the world just now in 'which we do not light upon a paragraph about the transfer of labourers from one country to another. The movement is so nearly uni- versal, in regard to intertropical colonies, and countries in near relation with them, that the question which naturally occurs to all simple-minded people is, why do not all these labourers stay where they are, and work at home? What is the use of their turning one another out and running after or running away from each other, when each country has work to do and people living there to do it ? These simple questions appear to us perfectI rational ; and no answer, we are confident, can be made will will satisfy any reasonable and honest mind. This wasteful and laborious shifting of the labour-supply—this costly effort to counteract the great natural laws of society-.--25 consequence of the prior violation of Nature's laws, Which we cal slavery, and which slave-holders describe as the beneficiary send- sude of an inferior to the superior race. The institution has be- come so nearly impracticable in the American sense of it, in our time, that a critical struggle is going on, marked by many symp- toms, of which the wildest and strangest is this mutual race and owe of labour round the globe. The process is something like
this. The two slave-holding countries which keep up the institution
itself, and the trade which supplies it, are the United States and
Cuba. The American Piave-states actually contain nearly enough
poor whites to till the soil ; and no American products except sneer, (of which only a small quantity is grown on a limited ) require the labour of black men. Every year strengthens the proof that native whites and European immigrants can grow and prepare cotton and tobacco, from Virginia to Texas, better than negro slaves. But to the latest moment, the native whites were prevented working, and compelled to sink into poverty and destitution while negroes were doing their proper work. Negroes were brought in from Africa till fifty years ago ; and afterwards from States which took to breeding slaves when their agricultural capabilities were exhausted. Here were two sets of people where there was naturally scope for one. Thence arose the deportation scheme which thoughtless persons in Europe have been led to fancy a good thing, as tending to the abolition of American slavery. We were told, and were expected to believe, that the American marine was employed, and always would be employed, in bringing European labourers over to the Northern States of the Union, and, at the same time, carrying away American la- bourers to Africa, to equalize the numbers. Could a balloon- traveller see a more absurd spectacle than this ? Plenty of whites pining in idleness and poverty on the land which the descendants of imported Africans were reluctantly tilling : hundreds of thou- sands of Germans, Irish, Swedes, and Dutch, pouring in at the northern ports; and strenuous efforts making in the southern ports to drive out, or carry away, supernumerary blacks to the old Africa.
Look now at that African shore. There, in the Liberian state, are landed the few American negroes,—mostly slaves freed for the purpose of being so got rid of,—who are "to evangelize Africa." Here," says the slaveholder at Washington, "they are nui- sances: there they will be missionaries." A small group of them —two or three per cent, settle and prosper in trade near the coast ; a few more squat, and manage to live, somewhat further in : and the great majority—nine-tenths or more—disappear by death, or by being conveyed up the rivers. Then the French contractors appear on the scene. They want free negro labourers for French colonies ; and native chiefs, and some individuals more practised in business, supply them. Down come the helpless Americans from the interior, seduced on board, and then manacled, and carried off to Martinique or Gruadaloupe, to be "free American missionaries of civilization" among the plantation-hands.
But why will not those plantation-hands on the spot serve the purposes of the colony ? Certain escaped Africans, who have made their way over to -Dominica, have informed us. The im- ported Africans are paid nothing, and are made slaves of. No promises about wages, and about returning home, are observed ; whereas the emancipated negroes on the spot must have wages, and the enjoyments of certain rights before the law. " Still,— free labour as cheaper and better than slave-labour under any form." True : let us get an explanation by looking in upon the British colonies, in the same seas. What do we see in the least prosperous of them,—Jamaica ? We find here a continuation of the series of mad freaks in sporting with labour. We find a population of 75,000 able-bodied labouring men, and the same number of stout women ready for that sugar production, which at present employs only 15,000 labourers alto- gether. These labourers are not hired : and not being hired, they settle on land which their industry has. acquired ; so that, ten years since, there were at least, 50,000 freeholders in Ja- maica; and the number has increased largely since. Any or all of these tens of thousands of labourers would work on the planta- tions, on the easy terms of ls. 6d. a day, punctually paid. The planters will pay only ed. or, at most, is.; and they or their agents leave the wages unpaid for weeks and months together, lodge the labourers like cattle, or allow them to be charged rent three or four times over, and when the independent labourers de-. cline such terms, and prefer to earn an easy competence at home, their baffled employers call them lazy, clamour for governmental aid ; obtain grants for purposes of labour-supply; tax the negro population for means to bring Chinamen, coolies from India, na- tive negroes from Africa ; and, after all, find the new supply a great expense,—every coolie costing his employer 2s. a day, ex- clusive of lodging, over and above the cost of the many thousands who have died, and the thousands more who hate turned pedlars, or mere vagabonds. Here is a new element introduced. The balloon voyager may look for transports laden with coolies such aS are now swarming in the Eastern seas. They are too often a
miserable spectacle. Not always ; for, if these shrewd mammon- worshippers know where they are going, and can make and enforce their own terms, as in the case of those who are thriving in the Mauritius, and making Mauritius thrive, the compact may be mutually advantageous. But such instances are rare : and the importation of Asiatics into European colonies where they are not Wanted is a supreme cruelty. The fate of the coolies in the West Indies, and the proclamation of the American Ambassador in China, exposing the vile character of the traffic, illustrate the
wicked folly of thrusting them into the place of the labourem born and bred in Jamaica. This is not all yet. There are two more scenes exciting wonder about Jamaica. While ship-loads of coolies have been poured out upon the shore, the vessels have been refilled by the negro labourers of the island. More going to and fro ! And why ? In Central America, where transit routes are making, wages o.re what the Jamaica employers will give to, or spend upon Chinamen, but not the native labourers : so, while the labourers and masters together are taxed to bring in coolies who will cost above 2s. per day, the labourers are sailing away who would gladly remain for 2s. per day. Even this is not all. The Jamaica planters and their agents have just been treat- ing with a furor of hospitality an American emissary, named Dal- . ton, who has landed among them to otter an unlimited supply of free negroes from the United States, on the terms of ascription to the soil for three years in consideration of a grant of crown land afterwards. Many questions arise here. Why should Jamaica have more negro freeholders, when she had 50,000 ten. years ago ? Why not use those she has ? Because they will not be attached to the soil, for even three years ? Then who can. answer for the American negroes, that they will consent to it? Can Mr. Dalton produce credentials, to show that he is their agent? So far from it that the free negroes of the American Union have just been repeating, with all possible emphasis, their determination not to emigrate on any pretence whatever. Again, we discover something, in recent Southern newspapers, which casts a clear light on the true nature of Mr. Dalton 's commission.
We observe that in North Carolina, a Grand e has presented the free negroes as nuisances who must be got rid of, in order to the security of slavery ; and it is recommended that they be deported beyond seas, or sold away into other States,—the proceeds of this sale of free American citizens being appropriated to the fabrica- tion of a new literature suitable to Southern institutions,—the literature of Europe, and of New England being hostile to the in- terests of slaveholders. It is to be hoped. that both the British and American governments are observing this course of events, to prevent mischief. Free negroes must not be illegally expatriated for the benefit of slave-holders ; nor may slaves be sold away when too cheap to answer at home, under pretence of Jamaica immi- gration: and again, our Government, which disallowed the Ja- maica Immigration Bill of last year, must remain on the watch, to prevent the reestablishment of slavery under the name of a contract with persons incompetent to form such engagements.
We might go on through many columns with our illustrations ; but we have said enough. It is only necessary to point out that, amidst all this fetching and carrying, the right kind and amount of labour is, as far as we know, every whers on the spot,—placed. at our disposal by those natural laws of society which work better for us than any devices which would counteract them. In the American States, there are (as prices now show) more labourers than the work of the hour demands. If they were paid wages, and employed in a businesslike way, they would all be needed, all who deserve it would be happy and satisfied, the planters would begin to rise in the world, and their lands would emerge from their present desolation. The African coast would be civil- ized in a better way than by having exhausted and degraded slaves, or reluctant exiles poured out upon it; for legitimate trade and cheerful industry spring up, and now flourish bravely, wherever the slave-trade is precluded. The English and French colonies would find labourers enough at command to educe more wealth than coolies and barbaric Africans ever create, at any cost ; and, as for eastern countries, the Chinese and the Indian coolies would find their way where their own interests led them, —to gold-fields or sugar islands,—to California or Sydney, te; Sarawak or the Mauritius, as they pleased. What can be so simple as to use the means under every man's hand, and let af- fairs take their course ? What so easy ? But therein lies the mystery ; a mystery to the balloon-observer, perhaps ; but not to eye-witnesses of slavery and its results. "Men hate those whom they have injured " ; and slave-holders cannot endure to treat as free men the very individuals, families, or race of those whom they once oppressed. Hence the race and chase, the absurd and abominable game of hide and seek, now going on like a dismal joke, all round the world. It is no joke to the victims deported ; no joke to the impoverished employers ; no joke (though they suffer least) to the insulted resident population of labourers ; no .joke to the peoples whose rulers are telling lies in council, and breaking treaties on the sly, and striving °to undo in a day the noblest work of reform ever achieved, after the labours and sacri- fices of sixty years. How can the despots on thrones and in plantation mansions be brought to their senses, and their supple agents under the shock of the world's contempt ? By an exposure of the facts, in the first place ; and next, by vigilance in enfor- cing laws and treaties, and vigour in working under these natu- ral laws which it is our present business to assert, and which it will always be madness to defy.