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Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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French Control in Madagascar. — The Bulletin de la Society de G6o-
graphie Commerciale, Paris, Vol. XIX, 1897 (received by the Department
in March, 1897), contains a letter from a member of the society from Mada-
gascar, dated November 24, 1896, which says:

I hope to be able to give you more accurate information than can be obtained from the
misleading newspaper accounts. It was published, for instance, that a state of siege was
announced at Tananarivo in July; the truth is, it took place September 27. The insurrection
caused a blockade during the months of July, August, and September. Every day the rebel-
lion grew, fostered by the Queen's advisers, who, under the guise of devotion to the French
cause, succeeded in deceiving General Laroche. This unfortunate officer, this impractical
dreamer, saw only through the eyes of our enemies. He concerned himself little for the
French colonists and planters; the English were the objects of his solicitude, and, thanks to
him, our rivals were regaining the moral influence over the population which the success of
our arms had to a certain extent diminished.

^ « * « « « «

Continually deluded by the Queen and her Government, he refused to admit as true the
proofs that were daily brought him of the complicity of the Court with the Fahavalos; he
liberated the principal authors of the insurrection, and allowed only insignificant participators
to be tried. His last act was to remove from military jurisdiction several persons of high po-
sition whom General Gallieni would certainly have had shot. He caused them to leave the
country, after pensioning them.

When the news of his recall arrived, the French residents and merchants were enthusiastic
with delight. The situation changed at once. The Hovas saw quickly that General Gallieni
would not be their tool. The Queen was obliged to pay the first visit to the general ; the
French flag replaced the native banner on the palace ; the Hovan Government was to a cer-
tain extent overthrown. Convicted of connivance with the rebels, an uncle of the Queen was
shot; one of her aunts was banished to St. Marie; the Minister of the Interior was shot; the
frightened and trembling Queen made many protestations of submission to the French Gov-

Until the departure of M. Laroche, the military commandant was unable to take energetic
measures. He saw the city surrounded by bands of rebels; communication in any direction
was practically impossible. Once freed, however, from the restraint of a blind administration,
bloody lessons were inflicted upon the natives. Many have submitted, others are driven into-
the mountains to die of hunger as an alternative. In .short, for a month the situation has been
much improved ; the rebellion is not trodden out, but its instigators have no further hope.
We can now give our attention to the commercial development of the country.

The first thing to do is to make roads; both from a military and a commercial stand-
]>oint, easy means of communication between the central plateau and the ports is indis|>en-
sable. A route that was designed in 1895 has been abandoned. Mule paths have been used
by the soldiers. Commerce is at present conducted only by means of native carriers. A
French transport company has recently imported six hundred mules from the Argentine Re-
public, but they are untrained. It seems, also, that the company has been unable to procure
native conductors and must rely on foreigners, and what is still more discouraging, the price
charged for transport is 1,300 francs ($250) per ton. Since the native carriers demand only
from 1,000 to 1,100 francs per ton, the company will hardly meet with success,


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On the other hand, the construction of a wagon road between Tananarivo and Tamalave
has been stopped. The bureau of public works had charge of the section between Tananarivo
and Moramunga; the engineering corps was to complete it The lirst part has been begun, and
the second will probably be in progress during the month of December, as soon as the engi-
neering corps, which is busy in making the mule path passable, can finish this more important
task. Under the direction of an energetic engineer, M. Viard, the bureau of public works ren-
dered efficient service to the colony, especially in Tananarivo, where wagon roads now replace
the paths which served for the natives, but on which a European goat would have found it diffi-
cult to maintain foothold. Unfortunately, in the desire to hasten the work, debts were in-
curred. M. I^aroche, as blind as ever, allowed the affiur to go on, and since his departure,
it has been found necessary, owing to pecuniary difficulties, to cease the construction. It is
to be regretted that M. Viard left the colony at the same time as M. Laroche; also, that
General Gallieni has not yet united the public works with the engineering corps. The latter
has certain credits at its disposal, and could have advanced the work several months.

But it is not only a wagon road that should be opened between Tananarivo and the sea;
a railway should be constructed. Various projects in this line have been presented, many
without reliability ; as, for instance, one from an Englishman who probably knows nothing
about railroads except that he has traveled on them. It is now good politics to combat in
every possible way the influence of the English in our new colony, and it is probable that the
permit will be granted a Frenchman, who seems to understand the matter, and who has
already surveyed the route. With a railroad, Madagascar would be perhaps the best of our
colonies. The Fahavalos will not much longer trouble our peace. The French can come in
large numbers, and remunerative fields will be opened to commerce and industry.

The country is not unhealthy. It must not be forgotten that in every land opened to human
activity there has been at first a certain amount of sickness. The first attempts at cultivation
and colonization are usually attended by serious mortality. Everything is to be done in
Madagascar, but she will yield an abundant harvest. I have faith in her future.

Agriculture iu Tonkin. — The Bulletin de la Soci^t^ de G^ographie Com-
merciale, Paris, Vol. XIX, 1897, contains a letter from M. Duchemin, dated
Phu-doan, November 12, 1896, as follows:

I have, on different occasions in the past, expressed my opinion as to the advisability of
treating our colonies as agricultural rather than as commercial. I have always insisted that
agriculture is at the base of prosperity of a colony; that it obtains from the soil materials to
foster commerce and industry, and in this way is the source of wealth; while at the same time,
by means of the salaries paid, it enables the natives to buy and so increases the consumption
of our products. This has been a theory of mine; I am now prepared to quote figures in
supiwrt of it.

In May, 1894, I succeeded in obtaining in Paris sufficient capital for the cultivation of
coflfee, etc., in the plantations of Tonkin. Since the first of the following August, I have
been developing the resources of the land. Below are the expenses incurred during two years:
Instruments of husbandry, ironware, glassware, cement, etc., 9,650 francs ($1,844); wages
of F^uropean laborers, 16,746 francs ($3,231) ; wages of native laborers employed in the fields,
on the roads, nurseries, stables, etc., in the making of bricks, lime, tiles, etc., and carpenters
and joiners, 51,963 francs ($10,028); cost of sending money by telegraph, letters, etc., 597
francs ($115). Deducting the amount expended in purchases, transportation, etc., in France,
there is left 76,338 francs ($14,733) spent in Tonkin. The French commerce received out
of the total amount nearly 23,000 francs in wages for European laborers, purchases of tools
and implements, as well as small purchases of the natives in the way of clothing, etc. Some
52,000 francs have been added to the local circulation, and the colony treasury has been

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enriched by means of taxes, etc., to the extent of over 4,000 francs. It must be noted, also,
that these expenditures have been made during a period of organization rather than of pro-
duction, and it is likely that the future will augment them. If a thousand other colonists
could have the same capital, in two years there would be an increase of 23,000,000 francs for
French commerce, 52,000,000 francs for native salaries, and 4,000,000 francs in the treasury
here. These are the reliable results of a carefully managed experiment. Later on, it is
probable that the gross receipts will amount to at least 100,000 francs a year. This amount,
taken from the soil with a capital imported from France, will be a veritable source of wealth
to Tonkin,

It is obvious from the foregoing that if a profitable commercial colony is desired, it is tirst
necessary to make it an agricultural colony.

Resources of Abyssinia. — The Bulletin de la Soci^t^ de Geographic Com-
merciale, Paris, Vol. XIX, 1897, has received the following:

Menelik 11, formerly King of Shoa, has been Emperor since 1889. Ethiopia is a moun-
tainous and very fertile country, the latter characteristic being especially true of the plateaus
of moderate altitude (2,000 to 3,000 meters). The products are barley, wheat, millet, maize,
sorghum, flax, various oil, tincture, and medicine bearing plants, potatoes, coffee, tobacco, sugar
cane, etc. There are vast forests; the sycamore, the mimosa, a sort of juniper tree, the tama-
rind, a variety of wild olive reaching 30 meters in height, the lemonj the orange, and the
coffee tree are among the principal species. The domestic animals are horses, donkeys,
cattle, sheep, and goats. Birds, civets, and bees abound. The latter contribute largely in
certain sections to the wealth of the country, their honey being used in the preparation of
" hydromel," the favorite native drink, and the wax serving for candles. The mountains
contain gold, copper, iron, rock salt, and earth flax. Potter's clay is common and in many
places very pure.

The principal articles exported are coffee, gold, ivory, civet, skins, gums, wax, and me-
dicinal plants. The imports consist of cottons, silks, cloths, carpets, firearms, cutlery, hard-
ware, provisions, and tools. The French colony at Obock has opened a route for commerce
to Harrar and various provinces of the Empire. A postal service has been established be-
tween Djibouti, Ilarrar, Addis Ababa, etc., and there is telegraph communication between
the two latter places. In the interior, the service is by horse ; from Djibouti, by boat. The
monetary unit is the " hour," bearing the effigy of Menelik. Its weight and value are the same
as the Maria Theresa thaler, which is current in this part of Africa.

Addis Ababa, the capital, has a permanent population of some 50,000; the floating pop-
ulation is more than half as much. The total number of inhabitants of the country is 15,000,-
000. Addis Ababa is an important center of commerce, all products converging here. Harrar
is the residence of Ras Makonen ; it has a population of 42,000. This is the point of transit
of all the commerce from the southern provinces. The goods are brought to the city from
the interior by mules, and carried thence to the ports by camels. The annual commerce of
Harrar amounts to over $5,000,000, and is growing steadily.

Railways in Russia. — The Bulletin de la Soci^te de Geographie Com-
merciale, Paris, Vol. XIX, says:

According to official statistics, the following was the condition of the railway service in
Russia on December 31, 1896: On the above date, 38,848 versts (i verst=3,50i feet) were
in regular use, of which 7,593 versts were double tracks. During the year 1896, 2,300 versts
were built, against 2,000 versts in 1895. There h^s been a steady progress since 1891. This

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total of 2,300 versts comprises 1,555 vcrsts of Transsiberian Railway, namely the section
known as £katerinburg-Tscheliabinsk-Ob. Besides, roads are in process of construction
which will add some 5,200 versts more ; this is Government work. Private companies are
building 3,150 versts, principally between Moscow, Briansk, and Krassny, on the Archangel
line, and from Pstow to Bologoe. New lines are constantly being planned and permits are
regularly issued.

Economic Conditions in Holland. — The Journal des Debats, of Paris, Feb-
ruary 20, 1897, says a correspondent writes from Holland:

V'aluable statistics have recently been published in regard to the economic condition of the
country, the national wealth, the division of labor, etc. The total population in 1S89 was
4,511,415 in number; 2,228487 of this total were males, and 1,104,680 had attained their
majority. In 1895, the number of men subject to the tax on capital was 55,807; those who
paid the tax on professional revenue amounted to 205,785; the number of those paying per-
sonal taxes was 561,469; while 408,324 paid the land tax. There were 22,000 women who
paid the lax on capital, 22,000 who paid the tax on professions, and 127,000 subjected to the
personal tax. It should not be forgotten that incomes or salaries less than 5260 enjoy immu-
nity from taxation.

In 1894, the national wealth was distributed as follows: One hundred and fifteen per-
sons possessed $800,000 or over; 287 persons possessed from $400,000 to $800,000; 905
persons, from $200,000 to $400,000; 3,326 possessed from $80,000 to $200,000; 6,274 pos-
sessed from $40,000 to $80,000; 12,005 possessed from $20,000 to $40,000; and 54,658
possessed from $5,200 to $20,000. This gives a total of 77,672 persons, the total value of
whose property amounts to $2,163,200,000.

No less interesting is the account of the social situation of the individuals. In 1889, cer-
tain statistics were published, which show that the population is divided into four classes —
(i) heads of industrial enterprises, (2) managers of business interests which l)elong to others,
(3) employees, (4) workingmen. In the first class, are 439,000 persons, of which number
69,000 are women and 47,000 married women. The second class comprises 17,000 individ-
uals, of which 1,300 are women and 900 married women. In the third class, are 36,000
persons, of which number 5,200 are women and 200 married women. The number of work-
ingmen who have reached their majority is 523,000; the number who have not yet attained
their twenty-third year is 186,000.

If a further division of the population should be made according to the class of employ-
ment, it would be found that in 1889, of 1,000 persons, 117 were occupied in the industries,
116 in agriculture, 59 in commerce, 36 in domestic service, 6 in liberal professions, and 632
are classed without professions. It should be noted that in 1859, in every 1,000 persons there
were 50 domestics, while in 1889, there are only 36, which is a sign that the prosperous
classes have not increased in number. On the other hand, there are to-day 632 persons who
have no profession, while in 1849, there were 588, and in 1859, 619, which shows a slow but
steady progress among the working classes.

The statistics in regard to the condition of women will be found of special significance and
interest. A comparison of the present state of affairs with that which existed in 1849 shows
remarkable changes. In the latter year, in 100 domestics, there were 84 women; in 1889,
there were 94; in dressmaking, 62 in 1849, 58 in 1889; in medicine, 18 out of 100 in 1849,
43 in 1889; in religious services, 28 in 1849, 38 in 1889; in teaching, ig in 1849, 35 >"
1889; in manufacture of foot wear, i in 1849, 15 in 1889; in employment in the fields, 29
in 1849, 13 in 1889; in chemistry, 2 in 1849, 12 in 1889; without profession, 65 in 1849,
69 in 1889.

The above figures are worthy of comment. The number of male domestics, which was
lowered from 16 to 6 per cent in forty years, is a confirmation of what we have just said

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about the situation of the prosperous classes. Women are preferably employed in the do-
mestic service, because their rate of wages is less and because the tax on their employers is
not so heavy. On the other hand, the tendency to place instruction in the hands of women
is noticeable in Holland ; in the period mentioned, the number of woman teachers has nearly
doubled. It must also be admitted that, here as elsewhere, the fields are deserted and
those who occupy themselves exclusively with agriculture are less frequently found. In
forty years, the work of the fields has been abandoned by 16 women in 29. In 1849, they
supplied almost three-tenths of the workers in the rural districts; to-day, they hardly consti-
tute the seventh part. They are turning their attention to the various industries. It would
take too long to discuss the causes of the change ; but the figures are thought to be of suffi-
cient importance to warrant their presentation.

An English Company in Morocco. — The Jouraal des Debats, Paris, February
21, 1897, ^^ ^^^ following:

Our Madrid correspondent writes: "The press is much interested in the formation of a
society called the Globe Venture Syndicate, Limited, of London, which has acquired the
monopoly of trade in a certain territory of Morocco * * * to the exclusion of all other
strangers. The society has, it seems, concluded a treaty with the council of those chieftains
who have declared themselves independent of the authortiy of the Sultan. It comprises the
immense tract of land situated between the Atlas Mountains and the Noun River. Permission
is given the syndicate 10 establish on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, on the coasts of rivers,
and in the interior commercial stations which may in time become fortified points. The
products of the country are cochineal, ivory, gold-bearing sands, ostrich feathers, mica, amber,
wool, skins, wood, oil, wax, etc. The Sultan, it is said, protested against this concession of a
territory which he claims as part of his own. The Minister of State has made inquiries in
regard to the matter of the English Government, and has received the answer that the com-
pany was assuming the responsibility of the situation and had no official protection."

English Administration in Egypt. — Our London correspondent, says the
Journal des Debats, Paris, February 21, 1897, writes:

The report of Lord Cromer on the finances and administration of Egypt has just been
published. The English are pleased at the prosperous condition of Egyptian finances, and,
from the industrial and agricultural point of view, think that the cultivation of sugar cane can
be largely developed. If this be true, it is an additional reason for the English wishing to
retain their control of the affairs of Egypt.

Comparative Commerce of England, Germany, and France. — A letter to
the Gaceta de los Ferrocarriles, of Habana, February 28, 1897, says:

M. Charles Roux has been making some important investigations in regard to the com-
mercial condition of France. To discover if the country has made progress from an indus-
trial point of view, he has made a special study of the situation of competitive nations, and
he declares that France is far from being on equal standing, not only with England, but with
Germany and other countries; that is, she occupies an inferior rank among the principal
commercial nations of Europe and America.

The general movement of English commerce, says M. Roux, is three times as large as
that of the French, exceeding in 1895 the imposing figures of 17,500,000,000 francs ($3,861,-
No. 199 10.

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400,000). Nevertheless, England is seriously preoccupied with the efforts that Germany is
making to rival her ; the commercial transactions of the latter Empire during the past year
reached 10,000,000,000 francs (^1,930,000,000).

It is undeniable that English commerce is steadily growing; it is also true that the pro-
gress becomes daily less rapid. England has in her favor her increasing populaticm and her
capital. She stands to-day at the head of the financial powers of the earth; but there are
signs of decay. M. Roux thinks that the insular position that has enabled England for so
long to serve as an open market for the products of all countries will soon cease to be an ad-
vantage, on account of the progress in the construction of railways, telegraph services, etc.
Countries can now trade directly with each other, instead of being obliged to seek a common
market, and the ports of the Continent are better adapted for rapid maritime communication.
The cities of northern Europe have developed in a way that gives the United Kingdom cause
for serious alarm. Bremen, whose commercial movement in 1880 was in the neighborhood
of 1,169,000 tons, now has over 2,000,000 tons. Hamburg, in spite of a situation that would
seem to condemn it to limited commerce, promises* to become shortly the most important
port of Europe. In 1 880, 2,800,000 tons was the total of its commercial movement; it
reached 6,000,000 tons in 1894, and in 1895, 6,256,000 tons, thus surpassing Liverpool, the
principal port of England.

Why has Hamburg secured a position that would seem to have been designed for Havre?
The answer is, Germany has shown, in the development of her commerce, a methodical sphit
of persistence that is totally lacking in France. M. Roux says that the amount appropriated
by the Government to improve commerce has been diverted from its true object. The money
has been distributed in eighty-six provinces; every district, every township has tried to obtain
part of it, and in their endeavor to satisfy these demands the attention of the French has
been drawn from more important affairs. They are now confronted by the following situa-
tion: For ten years the amount of German exports has exceeded that of the French; in 1895,
the excess was over $148,530,000. France now actually finds herself, in regard to maritime
exports, in the fifth place.

Italian Exposition in 1898. — Baron Fava, Italian ambassador to the United
States, in a note addressed to the Secretary of State under date of March 14,
1897, calls attention to the Sesquicentennial Exposition to be held at Turin
in 1898. He says that the exposition will include an international section
of electricity and a section for "Italians abroad.'* His Government desires
that United States exhibitors participate in the former, and hopes that all
facilities in the matter of transportation and custom-house requirements will
be accorded them. The following is a copy of the circular issued by the
commission in charge:


On the occasion of the national exhibition, which will be held in Turin in 1898, to cele-
brate the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Italian constitution, exhibitors from
all countries will be admitted to the special department of electricity.

The electrical exhibition will be divided into the following classes: (i) Electric and
magnetic school apparatus; (2) materials and fittings for electrical mains and distributions ;
(3) electrical and magnetic testing apparatus; (4) teleg^raphs and telephones; (5) railway
signaling and block apparatus, application of electricity to train lighting and heating ; (6)
dynamo-electrical machines and electric motors ; (7) mechanical applications of electricity,
electric traction; (8) electric lighting; (9) electro-chemistry and electro- metallui^; (10)
other applications of electricity; (ii) historical apparatus.

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In issuing invitations to participate in the Turin Exhibition of 189810 the electrical firms
of all countries, the promoters are moved by the desire of presenting to visitors a complete
display of exhibits from the best-known Italian and foreign works, including the latest and
most interesting inventions and improvements. The promoters are convinced that, so far as
electricity is concerned, nothing but a show where makers and specialists of all countries are
represented will prove efficient in assuring progress both in science and industry.

Italy, where unemployed hydraulic power is still abundant, affords a large field to the
enterprising spirit of electrical engineers.

The success which crowned the international electricity exhibition held in Turin in 1884,
where, besides many other practical results, the advantages of transformers were first brought

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 80 of 82)