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Chinese industries at the approaching Columbian Exposition. I regard it as desirable that the Chinese exhibit be facilitated in every proper way.
A question has arisen with the Government of Spain touching the rights of American citizens in the Caroline Islands. Our citizens there, long prior to the confirmation of Spain's claim to the islands, had secured by settlement and purchase certain rights, to the recognition and maintenance of which the faith of Spain was pledged. I have had reason within the past year very strongly to protest against the failure to carry out this pledge on the part of His Majesty's ministers, which has resulted in great injustice and injury to the American residents.
The Government and people of Spain propose to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by holding an exposition at Madrid, which will open on the 12th of September and continue until the 31st of December, 1892. A cordial invitation has been extended to the United States to take part in this commemoration, and, as Spain was one of the first nations to express the intention to participate in the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, it would be very appropriate for this Government to give this invitation its friendly promotion.
Surveys for the connecting links of the projected Intercontinental Railway are in progress, not only in Mexico, but at various points along the course mapped out. Three surveying parties are now in the field under the direction of the Commission. Nearly 1,000 miles of the proposed road have been surveyed, including the most difficult part, that through Ecuador and the southern part of Colombia. The reports of the engineers are very satisfactory and show that no insurmountable obstacles have been met with.
On November 12, 1884, a treaty was concluded with Mexico reaffirming the boundary between the two countries as described in the treaties of February 2, 1848, and December 30, 1853. March 1, 1889, a further treaty was negotiated to facilitate the carrying out of the principles of the treaty of 1884 and to avoid the difficulties occasioned by reason of the changes and alterations that take place from natural causes in the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers in the portions thereof constituting the boundary line between the two Republics. The International Boundary Commission, provided for by the treaty of 1889, to have exclusive jurisdiction of any question that may arise, has been named by the Mexican Government. An appropriation is necessary to enable the United States to fulfill its treaty obligation in this respect.
The death of King Kalakaua in the United States afforded occasion to testify our friendship for Hawaii by conveying the King's body to his own land in a naval. vessel with all due honors. The Government of his successor, Queen Liliuokalani, is seeking to promote closer commercial relations with the United States. Surveys for the much-needed submarine cable from our Pacific Coast to Honolulu are in progress, and this enterprise should have the suitable promotion of the two Governments. I strongly recommend that provision be made for improving the harbor of Pearl River and equipping it as a naval station.
The arbitration treaty formulated by the International American Conference lapsed by reason of the failure to exchange ratifications fully within the limit of time provided; but several of the Governments concerned have expressed a desire to save this important result of the conference by an extension of the period. It is, in my judgment, incumbent upon the United States to conserve the influential initiative it has taken in this measure by ratifying the instrument and by advocating the proposed extension of the time for exchange. These views have been made known to the other signatories.
This Government has found occasion to express, in a friendly spirit, but with much ea, iestness, to the Government of the Czar, its serious concern because of the harsh measures now being enforced against the Hebrews in Russia. By the revival of antisemitic laws, long in abeyance, great numbers of those unfortunate people have been constrained to abandon their homes and leave the empire by reason of the impossibility of finding subsistence within the pale to which it is sought to confine them. The immigration of these people to the United States—many other countries being closed to them—is largely increasing and is likely to assume proportions which may make it difficult to find homes and employment for them here and to seriously affect the labor market. It is estimated that over one million will be forced from Russia within a few years. The Hebrew is never a beggar; he has always kept the law-life by toil-often under severe and oppressive civil restrictions. It is also true that no race, sect, or class has more fully cared for its own than the Hebrew race. But the sudden transfer of such a multitude, under conditions that tend to strip them of their small accumulations and to depress their energies and courage, is neither good for them nor for us.
The banishment, whether by direct decree or by not less certain indirect methods, of so large a number of men and women is not a local question. A decree to leave one country is, in the nature of things, an order to enter another-some other. This consideration, as well as the suggestions of humanity, furnishes ample ground for the remonstrances which we have presented to Russia, while our historic friendship for that Government can not fail to give the assurance that our representations are those of a sincere wellwisher.
The annual report of the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua shows that much costly and necessary preparatory work has been done during the year in the construction of shops, railroad tracks, and harbor piers and breakwaters, and that the work of canal construction has made some progress.
I deem it to be a matter of the highest concern to the United States that this canal, connecting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and giving to us a short water communication between our ports upon those two great seas, should be speedily constructed and at the smallest practicable limit of cost. The gain in freights to the people and the direct saving to the Government of the United States in the use of its naval vessels would pay the entire cost of this work within a short series of years. The report of the Secretary of the Navy shows the saving in our naval expenditures which would result.
The Senator from Alabama (Mr. Morgan), in his argument upon this subject before the Senate at the last session, did not overestimate the importance of this work when he said that “the canal is the most important subject now connected with the commercial growth and progress of the United States."
If this work is to be promoted by the usual financial methods and without the aid of this Government, the expenditures, in its interest-bearing securities and stocks, will probably be twice the actual cost. This will necessitate higher tolls and constitute a heavy and altogether needless burden upon our commerce and that of the world. Every dollar of the bonds and stock of the company should represent a dollar expended in the legitimate and economical prosecution of the work. This is only possible by giving to the bonds the guaranty of the United States Government.
Such a guaranty would secure the ready sale at par of a 3 per cent bond, from time to time, as the money was needed. I do not doubt that, built upon these business methods, the canal would, when fully inaugurated, earn its fixed charges and operating expenses.
But if its bonds are to be marketed at heavy discounts and every bond sold is to be accompanied by a gift of stock, as has come to be expected by investors in such enterprises, the traffic will be seriously burdened to pay interest and dividends. I am quite willing to recommend Government promotion in the prosecution of a work which, if no other means offered for securing its completion, is of such transcendent interest that the Government should, in my opinion, secure it by direct appropriations from its Treasury.
A guaranty of the bonds of the Canal Company to an amount necessary to the completion of the canal could, I think, be so given as not to involve any serious risk of ultimate loss. The things to be carefully guarded are the completion of the work within the limits of the guaranty, the subrogation of the United States to the rights of the first-mortgage bondholders for any amounts it may have to pay, and in the meantime a control of the stock of the company as a security against mismanagement and loss. I most sincerely hope that neither party nor sectional lines will be drawn upon this great American project, so full of interest to the people of all our States and so influential in its effects upon the prestige and prosperity of our common country.
The Island of Navassa, in the West Indian group, has, under the provisions of Title 72 of the Revised Statutes, been recognized by the President as appertaining to the United States. It contains guano deposits, is owned by the Navassa Phosphate Company, and is occupied solely by its employees. In September, 1889, a revolt took place among these laborers, resulting in the killing of some of the agents of the company, caused, as the laborers claimed, by cruel treatment. These men were arrested and tried in the United States court at Baltimore, under section 5576 of the statute referred to, as if the offenses had been committed on board a merchant vessel of the United States on the high seas. There appeared on the trial, and otherwise came to me, such evidences of the bad treatment of the inen that, in consideration of this and of the fact that the men had no access to any public officer or tribunal for protection or the redress of their wrongs, I commuted the death sentences that had been passed by the court upon three of them. In April last my attention was again called to this island, and to the unregulated condition of things there, by a letter from a colored laborer, who complained that he was wrongfully detained upon the island by the phosphate company after the expiration of his contract of service. A naval vessel was sent to examine into the case of this man and generally into the condition of things on the island. It was found that the laborer referred to had been detained beyond the contract limit and that a condition of revolt again existed among the laborers. A board of naval officers reported, among other things, as follows:
“We would desire to state further that the discipline maintained on the island seems to be that of a convict establishment, without its comforts and cleanliness, and that, until more attention is paid to the shipping of laborers, by placing it under Government supervision to prevent misunderstanding and misrepresentation, and until some amelioration is shown in the treatment of the laborers, these disorders will be of constant occurrence.”
I recommend legislation that shall place labor contracts upon this and other islands having the relation that Navassa has to the United States under the supervision of a court commissioner, and that shall provide, at the expense of the owners, an officer to reside upon the islands with power to judge and adjust disputes and to enforce a just and humane treatment of the employees. It is inexcusable that American laborers should be left within our own jurisdiction without access to any Government officer or tribunal for their protection and the redress of their wrongs.
International copyright has been secured, in accordance with the conditions of the act of March 3, 1891, with Belgium, France, Great Britain and the British possessions, and Switzerland, the laws of those countries permitting to our citizens the benefit of copyright on substantially the same basis as to their own citizens or subjects. With Germany a special convention has been negotiated upon this subject, which will bring that country within the reciprocal benefits of our legislation.
The general interest in the operations of the Treasury Department has been much augmented during the last year by reason of the conflicting predictions, which accompanied and followed the tariff and other legislation of the last Congress affecting the revenues, as to the results of this legislation upon the Treasury and upon the country. On the one hand it was contended that imports would so fall off as to leave the Treasury bankrupt and that the prices of articles entering into the living of the people would be so enhanced as to disastrously affect their comfort and happiness, while on the other it was argued that the loss to the revenue, largely the result of placing sugar on the free iist, would be a direct gain to the people ; that the prices of the necessaries of life, in