Debow's Review


In this excerpt from Debow's Review, the editors discuss the Southern need to import Chinese labor and the North's attempts to stop it. The editors feel this is a Northern plot to keep the South plagued by the troubles of the "dangerous", and voting, Freedmen. While the Southern desire to import manageable labor seems self-serving to us now, note the case they make against the labor system in the North.

3.--Coolies If there is one quality, over and above all others, on the possession of which the New England radical makes special boast, it is his far-reaching philanthropy. This being the case we are all adrift when we attempt to analyze the dismal howl of the Republican press over the arrival of twenty- three coolies at New Orleans from Havana. Now, the system of labor in Cuba is hard--very hard--in fact, nearly as severe as that imposed upon an English miner or a Lowell factory-girl; indeed, so hard, that many years ago, in a visit to that island, noting the rigor of the system, it made us feel--we a Southern slave-holder--very much like an abolitionist. It is a well-known fact that so harsh is the treatment in the plantations of Cuba-- especially under the contract or apprentice system--that the sensitive and uncomplaining but despairing Mongol not unfrequently sought rest from his toils in suicide. Now, the transition from the exhaustive labors exacted from the coolie in Cuba to the easy "tasks" of a Southern plantation, would seem to us, in our ignorance, a practical benefaction, which might engage the services of the purest philanthropy; the Republican press thinks otherwise, and we must be wrong. There is something dreadfully sinful in the importation of coolies--something mysteriously guileful--and we are not so ill-natured as to suppose that the true solution of the problem has been hit upon in the following extract. The deluded Picayune says:

With all their pretended dislike of caste, with all their flunkeyism over princely Japanese and Chinese, these Northern cousins of ours are deter- mined that the common and poor men of tawny hue shall not be permitted to come here to share our labor and its fruits, for we see that the United States Vice-Consul at Havana is taking measure to prevent the Chinese from coming thence here.

It is just so also in Republican California. They are very anxious that the negro, who does not live there, should be held to be a man and a brother among us, vote for loyal white trash, have homestead privileges in the public lands, but not outside the Southern States, and possibly they would generously take away the private property of other persons to give him in pay for his vote; but when it comes to the free and intelligent Mongol, who is ingenious, industrious, saving and quiet but will not vote, not even the right ticket, they strive, by all means--over-taxation, repression, orthodox hatred of idolatry, murder and robbery, and the other acts of a progressive Christianity--to drive him away. So here. They have heard how certain freemen who have outlived their contracts of seven years in Cuba, are disposed to come here and contract to labor for one year at a time. But as these men are more industrious than negroes, far more skillful and orderly, will not get up riots or muddy the stream, so that the wolf may have a pretext to indulge his appetite, and far worse, would not become naturalized and vote for publicans and sinners, they must be prohibited from entering these Southern States. Was ever hypocrisy covered by so thin a veil before? And yet these people expect the world to be deceived by their professions of humanity and universal fraternity of feeling, and to claim for their country that it its the home and refuge for the oppressed and employment- seeking poor man, wheresoever born. But it is such only for the European, who has a desire to vote and who will vote the Republican ticket. The poor Mongolian whose labor is unaccompanied by a desire to become a tool for the partisan, is not to have any part or lot in the matter, especially if his working with industry might interfere with the prospects of the facile voter and useful raiser of disturbances; whose services could hardly be commanded if he had to work faithfully and continuously to secure himself an engagement.


Source: Debow's Review, July/August, 1867, pages, 151-152. Emphasis added.

Negative Reactions
The New York Times (A)
The New York Times (B)
The New York Times (C)
Debow's Review on the Radicals
Debow's Review on Chinese Labor
Debow's Review on European Labor
William Finck (D-Ohio)
Mississippi "Black Code"
Congressman Mungan
Samuel Thomas
Colonel Whittlesey

History 122

HIST 122 Syllabus

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