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In commissioners' reports there ought to be a discount taken from the report of
Newport News: The number of American able seamen is decreasing.
Boston: Should say that not over 6 American able seamen are usually available for service at this port. It is hard to state with any degree of accuracy the number of foreign able seamen usually available for service at this port. During the winter months, or from December 1 to April 1, seamen are always plenty; the streets and houses are full. During those months I think it safe to say that there are 200 to 400 seamen constantly available. During the balance of the year they are not so plenty and many times it is almost impossible to obtain them. I have seen days in the past few years, during June, July, and August, when there were no seamen in port, and vessels would be obliged to wait sometimes two or three days for arrivals. It has rot been so during the past year, no doubt owing to the general depression, and should say that a fair estimate of available foreign able seamen during the last fiscal year would be 100. From my observation the number of American able seamen is constantly decreasing at this port.
Astoria: Number of American able seamen is decreasing.
San Francisco: Decreasing.
Norfolk: There is a slight increase. The hard times on shore have driven men to the sea.
8. CAUSES OF DECREASE IN SEAMEN.
Following are causes assigned by commissioners for the decrease in numbers of American seamen. Attention is called particularly to the statements of the com
missioners at Bath and Boston:
Philadelphia: The decrease in American seamen is due to the small number of American vessels trading foreign; to the fact that many American vessels are officered by naturalized foreigners, American seamen showing a disinclination to ship under them. Americans, as a rule, are more ambitions than the other nationalities, and as the chance of promotion are comparatively few in seagoing life, they prefer a life on land.
Bath: Bath is the home of a large number of sea captains, chief officers, and mates of ships, but there are no young men to-day starting out to follow the sea as a profession. There will be no American captains here in the next generation. This decrease in able seamen has gone on with the decrease of American ships. There are not ships enough now to enable Bath captains to find employment in their profession, and the number of these ships available for service is decreasing every year. Looking forward to the future, there is no inducement for young men to go to sea. Formerly it was an honorable profession; the young men of the best families in the Kennebec Valley eagerly sought the privilege of a berth on a new ship. Now, for the small number of ships built here, it is difficult to find young Americans willing to go, because in return for their hard work they find nothing in prospect. I do not speak of sail coasters. Such vessels offer little attraction to young men of ambition. Those who are already qualified by service to take officers' positions on ships in foreign trade, but who can not obtain these positions because of the growing scarcity of American ships, prefer to take their chances on the American steamers sailing from the larger ports.
Port Townsend: The American has better opportunities on land.
New Bedford: The cause for the decrease is there are no inducements.
Wilmington, N. C.: The causes are the preference shown by masters for foreign
Newport News: Otherwise engaged.
Boston: The cause naturally seems to be that there is no inducement for American men to go to sea, foreign commerce has decreased so rapidly from this port, and the outlook for business in the coastwise trade offers no inducement for advancement. Astoria: The result of my observation is that the steady decrease of American seamen is chargeable to the competition of cheap foreigners. Upon arrival here intelligent, active Americans usually learn that they can procure far better wages ashore than afloat.
San Francisco: The dullness prevailing in the shipping business, low wages, and a disinclination on the part of the average American to subject himself to the discipline that is necessary on vessels.
9. REMEDIES SUGGESTED.
The following methods of increasing the numbers of American seamen are proposed by commissioners, the suggestion of the commissioner at Bath, "the first and most necessary thing to do would be to increase the number of American ships,"
and of the commissioner at Philadelphia, "an increase in the number of American vessels trading foreign," being especially noted as of obvious and direct value. Philadelphia: An increase in the number of American vessels trading foreign. An amendment to the shipping laws, requiring that all petty officers, such as quartermasters and boatswains, carpenters, engineers, stewards, cooks, and all capacities above the grade of seamen on steamships and sailing ships, must be filled by American citizens.
Baltimore: The most feasible method to increase the number and better the class and qualifications of American seamen is to have in all important or large ports a sailors' home, under the supervision and control of Federal officers, where morality and surrounding attractions would take the place of the barroom and gambling table, and connected with the home a training school for young men and boys, where they could be taught the fundamental and practical lessons of seamanship, under restraint that would meet the approbation of parents and friends, and keep them from the influence of the forecastle while so young. I am disposed to believe that if there was such a place of training many of our boys and young men would become aspirants to seamanship on our American vessels, and in ten years would very nearly supply our vessels with American seamen.
Bath: The first and most necessary thing to do would be to increase the number of American ships. Unless this is done, some sort of Government aid will be needed if we are to have any American seamen. Since it is not possible to hold out, under present conditions, to young men the prospect of a captain's berth, it seems to me that by some system of apprenticeship the Government might, upon a certificate of service on board our ships, grant positions in its Navy or Revenue Marine which would operate as an inducement to enlist on our merchant ships.
New Orleans: I would suggest that a "school ship" be placed at this port, as I think there is quite a number of young men here who would willingly enroll themselves, in order that they would receive a proper and practical maritime education, to be able to fulfill such places which are now held by foreigners in our merchantmarine ships.
Port Townsend: Observation at this port suggests no feasible methods of inducing Americans to become seamen.
New Bedford: My idea is that stopping immigration will increase American able
Providence: If seamen could be assured of continuous service as is found in the various trades ashore the number of American seamen would increase, but the term of service in the coastwise trade is so short and the time lost between engagements is so great that a seaman following the coastwise trade makes very little money. Boston: I have no methods to suggest for increasing the number of our merchant
Astoria: A good method of increasing the number of merchant seamens in my opinion, would be the establishment of a training ship here. In this manner the calling might be rendered attractive to active youngsters of native birth, and thus each year a number of trained seamen would become available. Astoria is eminently a seaport town and the instincts and leanings of the younger male population are nothing if not aquatic. It also occurs to me that but a small proportion of the ships coming to this port are under the American flag. Until our merchant marine attains respectable proportions, it will be well nigh impossible to render the service attractive to the average boy of American birth.
San Francisco: Training ships where boys can be taught obedience as well as seamanship. A number of boys have applied at this office to be apprenticed within the past year, but the masters have declined to take them.
Norfolk: I think this desirable end would be reached if there were more certain and satisfactory methods of worthy seamen obtaining promotion.
The present law concerning apprentices on vessels has become a dead letter. At New York seven apprentices were indentured during the year, and San Francisco reports several applications, which masters were unwilling to accept. Other ports return no apprentices. As of value for comparison it is noted that apprentices in the British merchant marine have decreased thus:
At Hamburg the German Government report shows the total number of boys shipped on German vessels annually and those shipped on their first voyages as follows:
Following are replies of commissioners as to the operation of the laws concerning apprentices:
Baltimore: The law relating to apprentices is practically inoperative. There have been no applicants at this port in the history of the office. Masters do not care to assume the responsibility for six years when they have no certainty of profitable employment on the same or any other vessel during that period.
Bath: There are no apprentices going now in ships and no system of apprenticeship. The steel ship Dirigo, of Messrs. Arthur Sewall & Co., took five boys from the Boston training ship Enterprise, who applied for service. The Dirigo is now bound to Japan. Her captain wrote from Philadelphia, to which port she went from here, giving the boys high praise for their performance on the voyage out from here. The owners express hopes of getting future recruits from such sources. New Orleans: There are no apprentices sailing from this port or applications for such.
Port Townsend Laws concerning apprentices inoperative at this port.
Pascagoula: Never having had occasion to make out apprentice indentures to the sea service, nothing is left upon which to base an opinion as to the laws concerning or governing apprentices.
Providence: There are no apprentices shipped at this port.
Waldoboro: There has been no case of an apprentice here. Minors ship same as those of age.
Wilmington, N. C.: Concerning apprentices, no transactions.
Boston: The operations of the law relative to apprentices at this port have had no opportunity of being tested, for boys have almost entirely given up the idea of going to sea, and when they do go it is only for one trip, and they ship as the rest of the crew ship. We very rarely have applications now from boys, whereas in former days boys were constantly making application to this office for chances to go to sea. Astoria: As no apprentices have been indentured before me, I am unable to express an opinion as to the operation of the laws relative thereto.
San Francisco: Masters say they do not care to assume the responsibility of apprenticing boys. They ship a boy for the voyage just as they ship a seaman. Norfolk: We have no apprentices, and no applications for them at this port.
11. AMERICAN SEAMEN ON FOREIGN VESSELS.
Recognizing the dwindling numbers of American seamen, this Bureau has endeavored to ascertain whether American sailors, to any extent, have entered foreign service. Replies to inquiries addressed to the governments of Great Britain, Germany, and France, through the proper official channels, show that only citizens of those countries are allowed to serve in their respective navies, so that American sailors are not serving on foreign war vessels. The British Board of Trade states that it can not give the number of Americans in the British merchant marine, but that the number does not exceed 2,000. The American consul at Liverpool reports that 971 Americans shipped there on British vessels during the fiscal year, but it is to be presumed that these shipments to a considerable extent were on vessels owned by American capital, but, under the registry law, wearing foreign colors. He reports only 25 American shipments ou German vessels at that port. The consul at Southampton reports that Americans ship on foreign vessels there only to work their way home. Less than 75 Americans shipped on foreign vessels at Hamburg, according to the report of the American consul.
The observations of shipping commissioners on this subject follow, notice being directed especially to the remarks of the commissioners at San Francisco and Norfolk.
San Francisco: It is very difficult to ascertain the number of Americans who ship on foreign vessels, for the reason that the German consul is the only one of the foreign representatives at this port who preserves the records in detail as regards the shipment of crews. Upon questioning this official I learned that during the year ending June 30, 1894, only 10 American seamen were shipped through his office. It 7325 NAV- -2
may be remarked that the crews of foreign vessels ship for the round voyage and oftentimes for a period of two years. Formerly desertions were numerous, but now that wages are comparatively the same very few occur.
Philadelphia: British vessels ship a very few Americans. We have heard seamen express a preference for British vessels, as they claimed to have received better treatment, and their interests are better looked after by the English board of trade. German vessels ship their own countrymen almost exclusively. French vessels ship their own countrymen, with exception of a few colored seamen to fill deserters' places. Norwegian vessels ship their own countrymen almost exclusively. Italian vessels ship their own countrymen, with exception of a few colored seamen shipped in deserters' places.
Boston: There are no American seamen at this port who ship on foreign vessels. Baltimore: There are but very few American seamen that ship in foreign vessels from this port. I think it safe to say less than 1 per cent, and then only when there is no American vessel available.
New Orleans: To the best of my belief there are none.
Mobile: About 100. Reason: Scarcity of American vessels.
New Bedford: There are no American sailors shipped in foreign vessels at this port. Port Townsend: So far as can be observed, no American seaman has shipped from this port on a foreign vessel.
Providence: There may be 20.
Pascagoula: No American sailors have shipped on foreign vessels at this port. Wilmington, N. C.: Very few American seamen ship here on foreign vessels, and then only for want of employment elsewhere.
Norfolk: There are very few men shipped on foreign vessels at this port, except on those sailing under the British flag, and I am informed by the British consul that not over 5 per cent of these gave their nationality as American. The fact that all transatlantic shipments from this port are made in foreign bottoms probably accounts for even this small number of Americans shipping under the British flag. Savannah: Very few, if any, American sailors ship on foreign vessels from this port.
12. PREFERENCES IN NATIONALITY.
To ascertain if there is any reason in national characteristics for the large percentage of foreigners in our merchant marine, and, if so, whether it is so marked as to lead to any difference in wages, the Bureau requested shipping commissioners to report any notable differences in the qualifications of seamen, leading to a preference by owners or masters, and differences in wages, if any, based on this preference. The following replies indicate no differences in wages, but a general preference for seamen of Scandinavian birth, who are also, it may be added, serving in considerable numbers in the British and German merchant marines, and who constitute a heavy percentage of the crews on our Great Lakes, I am informed unofficially. Following are replies of shipping commissioners:
San Francisco: To arrive at an answer to this question, as well as others in this report, I have inquired of shipping masters, owners of vessels, masters, and other persons connected with the shipping interests at this port. As a general thing Norwegians and Scandinavians are preferable, because they are of a hardy race, of a submissive temperament and less liable to insubordination. It is claimed that European seamen serving in American vessels are better seamen than native Americans who sail before the mast, for the reason that European maritime nations usually have laws requiring boys to serve a certain number of years as apprentices before they can ship as able scamen. This system of apprenticeship insures competency. In all European vessels more attention is paid to the discharges received by seamen. These discharges must be shown when inen desire to ship. In American vessels these discharges, which mean certificates of good or bad conduct, competency or incompetency, are rarely asked for, and the result is that many men ship as able seamen who are not sailors at all.
Philadelphia: There is a preference shown by many masters of vessels for Scandinavian and German crews, which is probably due to their being handled aboard a vessel with less trouble and friction than the other nationalities. It is claimed that the Scandinavian races make the best seamen, which, no doubt, is true, as they do little else than follow the sea. Masters of vessels carrying colored crews as a rule object to negroes hailing from West Indies or tropical ports; this objection being variously stated as due to their slowness in acquiring the English language and their slow method of working. There is no discrimination in the matter of wages on account of nationality, with exception of colored seamen, who receive $2 per month less than white seamen.
Boston: The national differences in qualifications of seamen, leading to a preference in employment by masters, are largely in favor of the Swedes, Germans, and Norwegians, the Swedes and Norwegians leading, masters being of the opinion
that Swedes, Germans, and Norwegians are better sailors, steadier and more reliable men, and less given to complaining than other foreigners.
Baltimore: There is no national difference in the qualification of seamen that leads to any preference in employment by masters or owners, nor is there any difference in wages paid on American vessels on account of nationality of members of the crew at this port.
New Orleans: There is no difference at all, either in regards to nationality or
Mobile: No difference in wages on account of nationality.
New Bedford: Swedes and Portuguese are preferred, on account of their temperate habits and frugality, but there is no discrimination in wages on account of nationality.
Port Townsend: Scandinavian seamen seem to have the preference of masters over other nationalities, but no difference in wages by reason of ability.
Providence: There is only one class of seamen at this port for which there is any preference shown by masters of vessels, and this preference does not lead to any difference in wages paid to the seamen. The colored seamen, natives of Cape de Verde Islands, are selected many times by masters of vessels on account of their sobriety and faithfulness in performing their contracts. They give no trouble to masters by leaving their vessels when away from a home port.
Pascagoula: There seems to be a preference for Norwegian, Swedish, and German sailors by masters and owners of vessels on account of disposition, willingness to work, and obedience to orders.
Wilmington, N. C.: The Scandinavian seamen are preferred by most of the American shipmasters. They are the best of seamen generally; obedient, and get better wages.
Waldoboro: Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes are preferred on account of their dispositions, and because generally they are better sailors, but no discriminations on account of nationality have been made in wages.
Norfolk: As a rule the better class of Americans get such good wages on shore that they will only ship as masters or mates of vessels. Germans, Scandinavians, Danes, and Russian Finns are generally preferred as sailors to other nationalities, but the more intelligent of these are fast becoming "Americanized." This preference has little or no effect on the amount of wages paid to the seamen.
Sarannah: Masters express no preference for American seamen over foreigners who have learned to speak English, and the wages paid are the same.
13. ADVANTAGES OF AMERICAN VESSELS.
The following advantages of shipment on American vessels are noted by commissioners:
San Francisco: None that I am aware of, accommodations, wages, the supply of food and water being about the same.
Philadelphia: The advantages in favor of American vessels are: (1) wages are higher, no matter how plentiful seamen may be; (2) the protection guaranteed by signing before the U. S. shipping commissioner, and the ease with which they can appeal to him in cases where they are being wronged in matter of pay, slop-chest charges, bad treatment, or other abuses. The only disadvantage we learn of against American vessels is the claim made by some men of better treatment on British vessels.
Boston: The seamen shipped at this port prefer American vessels; the advantages, they claim, are many. Wages are always somewhat higher, the discipline not quite so severe, and the food on American vessels far superior to that of other nations, and the sailors' quarters, or forecastle, is larger, more comfortable, and more desirable in all its appointments.
Baltimore: Seamen prefer American vessels with a view to the protection given them by the shipping act, requiring them to be discharged in the United States, while in foreign service they may be discharged in foreign ports, as they generally
New Orleans: There is an advantage to American seamen, as their wages are larger than foreign seamen.
Mobile: American vessels, as a whole, are better supplied with provisions and pay better wages, and sailors have advantages of the protection of the shipping commissioner.
New Bedford: There are but two foreign vessels that sail or arrive at this port-from Cape Verde Islands. They pay the seamen about $6 per month and their mates about $15 per month. Their crews are all Portuguese from captain down.
Port Townsend: No advantages or disadvantages accrue to seaman on American vessels compared with foreign vessels.
Providence: Very few foreign vessels other than from British North America come