« PreviousContinue »
INDUSTRY AND TRADE
AM 1 tired of hearing Senators upon this floor, whenever they wish to put through a measure which they
advocate, talk to the American people about the fear of England. England is the most vulnerable nation upon the globe. Half of her wealth is afloat upon the waters of the earth, and if she entered into a contest with the United States we would sweep her commerce from the seas; and the wealth and genius and the enterprise of our people would do her such vast damage that she would never recover. There is no danger of war with England. Besides, if she should build the cable and engage in a combat with us, the first thing we would do would be to send our legions of men to overrun and capture Canada and capture the cable which she had built, and overrun and take control of her property.
Do we fear annexation by England ? If England should secure the Hawaiian Islands, I think they would be an element of weakness, for they would be hard to defend. The water is deep; there are fourteen islands in the group; the largest ships can sail close to their shores anywhere, and a swift cruiser could destroy this so-called Gibraltar of the Pacific in a day, destroying every village and every plantation; and dodging around through the deep channels between the islands, she would be hard to capture, thus requiring a large fleet for their defense.
This fear of England is absurd and ridiculous. The argument is one which has disgusted me often. It has been used when the Nicaraguan Canal project was before the Senate, and no matter what the scheme may be which may be advo1. Speech in the Senate March 2, 1895.
cated upon this floor, the fear of England is set up before our eyes—this bugaboo of sophomores, who are everlastingly “hoisting" the American flag, and dying before they will allow it to be pulled down! The season of this spread-eagle oratory has long passed away in the Congress of the United Stateswe listen patiently to it when it breaks out, and congratulate the orator who has secured applause by alluding to the flag.
If England should bombard New York to-day she would destroy as much English as American property. If England should destroy the banks and insurance companies, and, for that matter, some of the New York newspapers [laughter], she would only be destroying the property of those who are more in sympathy with the people of England than with the people of the United States; but, further, if she should destroy American property, we could recoup out of the vast sums which we owe England and leave her to settle with her own people. So, fear of England is the most absurd and ridiculous proposition ever presented upon this floor—it is mere ranting, rot, and roorback!
The chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations has presented the only argument besides the fear of England yet presented. He says it is very essential that we should have the Hawaiian Islands as a port from which to protect the seals in Bering Sea. In the first place, Honolulu is as far from Unalaska as San Francisco, and 800 miles further from Unalaska than the ports on Puget Sound. Unalaska, on Unalaska Island, is the chief harbor at the main entrance into the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean from the eastward, and it is already our property. That is a magnificent harbor, always free from ice, and capable of accommodating the commerce of the world. From that port, near to our own coal mines, our operations are carried on in Bering Sea. So that argument answers itself; but yet I am inclined to enter somewhat into that question.
In a speech a few days ago, the Senator from Alabama [Mr. Morgan] said:
Now, Mr. President, I do not wish to present any pictures of imagination here, for if I were to draw upon my weak and impoverished
imagination to the full extent of my capacity I should not by any means be capable of describing to the Senate the value and importance of the fisheries of the Bering Sea. I will just say this (and if any Senator desires me to prove it hereafter I will bring him the evidence of it in the most tangible form), that the fisheries of what we call the Bering Sea, as compared in value with the fisheries of the northeastern coast, are not less than five or six times greater than those ever were. The fisheries that we own there to-day are worth more for food and for other sea productions to the people of the United States by five times than the fisheries of the northeastern coast, including those around Newfoundland.
The Senator further said:
Notwithstanding some recent efforts to produce the impression upon the minds of the people of the United States that the fur-seal fisheries in Bering Sea are unprofitable and are actually destroyed, and without adverting at all to the methods by which they say the destruction has been wrought, I undertake to dispute that proposition out and out. We have there a nursery of fur seals protected by two lines of protection, which, if the Government of the United States will according to its plain powers and duties execute, the fur-seal fisheries of the Pribilof group of islands will be worth to us in the course of fifty years $300,000,000.
The representations which are made to alarm the American mind into a belief that those fisheries are not valuable, and that therefore some man may as well come in and pocket them, had better be looked at with a good deal of caution. I insist, Mr. President, that including the fur seals, or even without including the fur seals, we have not such an important fishery interest in the world, and no nation has one so important as we have in the Bering Sea. It will draw fleets of ships there.
And all this for the purpose of showing the importance of a harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, from which we can gather this vast crop of wealth, a harbor which it requires 2,000 miles of extra sailing to reach, where there is no coal whatever, and which would be utterly useless; worse than that, those islands would be an element of weakness to us in every respect.
But let us see if we have such valuable property in Bering Sea that it is necessary to acquire the Hawaiian Islands. I refer to the official report made by the Secretary of the Treasury in relation to this subject, in which he says in obedience to a request made by the House of Representatives dated January 23, 1895:
The alarming increase in the number of seals killed by pelagic sealers and the further fact that in four or five weeks the vessels in Bering Sea, only about one-third of the total number, killed more seals than were taken in the four months' sealing on the American side of the North Pacific, emphasize the conclusion expressed in my annual report to Congress that long before the expiration of the five years, when the regulations enacted by the Tribunal of Arbitration are to be submitted to the respective Governments for re-examination, the fur seal will have been practically exterminated.
My answer to the first inquiry is, therefore, that the operation of the articles of the Bering Sea Tribunal for the regulation of the furseal industry of Alaska has not resulted in saving the fur-seal herd from that destruction which those articles were intended to prevent.
With reference to the present condition of the fur-seal herds on the Pribilof Islands, I have to report a dangerous decrease. Information on file in the Department indicates a falling off of at least one-half during the past four seasons. It thus appears that the condition of the Alaskan fur-seal herd is most critical. All facts point to its speedy extermination unless the present regulations, enacted in the award of the Paris Tribunal, are changed at an early date, so as to afford a greater measure of protection to the seal herd.
In reply to the inquiry concerning the revenue derived by the Government from the fur-seal herds during the past season, and the expenditures during the same period in executing the requirements of the Paris award, I have to state that 15,000 seals were taken on the Pribilof Islands in the year last past, and 1,031 remained on hand from last year. The amount to be paid by the lessees of the islands, according to the provisions of their contract, on or before April i next, will be $214,298.37, the items being as follows:
$60,000.00 Tax of $2 per skin on 16,031 skins...
32,062.00 Bonus of $7.625 per skin on 16,031 skins.
122,236.37 As to expenses, I have to state that the honorable the Secretary of the Navy reports that the expenditures incident to the presence of the United States naval vessels in Bering Sea during the past year was $158,188.25. The expenses attending the presence of the revenue steamers Bear, Corwin, and Rush aggregate $40,116.24. The amounts named do not include the pay of officers or men or the rations supplied to them. Of the $1,500 appropriated to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the necessary expenses of enforcing the provisions of section 4 of the act approved April 6, 1894, under which two experts were employed to examine and classify pelagic seal skins, the sum of $250 has been expended. The salaries and expenses of the agents of the seal islands, whose duties would require them to be present on said islands without regard to the Bering Sea controversy, have not been included in preparing this answer to the resolution. The aggregate expense would, therefore, seem to be $198,554.49.
To this must be added $150,000 for salaries of officers and men and rations; for salaries of seal-island agents and expenses, $20,000; for support of seal-island natives, $ 19,000, and for Fish Commission steamer, $15,000, making a total annual expense of $402,000 for the purpose of carrying out the regulations of the Paris Tribunal, and which returned to the Treasury but little over $200,000 last year, and which will not return $50,000 this coming season. Meanwhile, the Canadian hunters, under the license of these Paris regulations, will finish what we have left in two or three more seasons of this "protection" secured by the Bering Sea Tribunal, and for which the Senator from Alabama appears as the wise and Prophetic interpreter. He is the only man, however, who has the hardihood to still declare them worth the paper upon which they are written. His associates at Paris have retired from public view in silence and in shame.
Besides all this, it is clearly shown by the reports that over 20,000 pups starved upon the rookeries last year, their mothers having been butchered by the Canadian butchers in Bering Sea during the last season.
This certainly is a splendid "nursery” of fur seals! It is very important and very necessary that we should acquire the Hawaiian Islands in order to reap that enormous deficit of $200,000 a year alone upon this industry, which the report of the Secretary of the Treasury declares so emphatically to be the case.
In his speech of Friday, February 8, 1895, the Senator from Alabama says that there is a very valuable whaling industry in Bering Sea, and "getting more valuable every day." The whales have been run out of Bering Sea ever since 1866; there has been no whaling there to mention since that date.