Katharine Caroline Bushnell.

Heathen Slaves and Christian Rulers online

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"_Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them_."

[Illustration: A Chinatown Slave Market and Den of Vice. (Built and
owned by Americans.)]



- AND TO -



"Heathen slaves and Christian rulers." No injustice is done to
Christians in the title given this book. The word "Christian" is
capable of use in two senses, individual and political. We apply the
words "Hindoo" and "Mahommedan" in these two senses also. A man who
has been born and brought up in the environment of the Hindoo or
Mahommedan religions, and who has not avowed some other form of faith,
but has yielded at least an outward allegiance to these forms, we
declare to be a man of one or the other faith. Moreover, we judge of
his religion by the fruits of it in his moral character. Just so,
every European or American who has not openly disavowed the Christian
religion for some other faith is called a "Christian." Furthermore,
such men, when they mingle with those of other religions, as in the
Orient, call themselves "Christians," in distinction from those of
other faith about them. They claim the word "Christian" as by right
theirs in this political sense, and it is in this sense that we employ
the word "Christian" in the title of this book. The word is used thus
when reckoning the world's population according to religions.

As we treat the Hindoo or Mohammedan so he treats us. Our Christianity
is judged, and must ever be, in the Orient, by the moral character of
the men who are called Christian; and the distinguishing vices of
such men are regarded as characteristic of their religion. Official
representatives of a Christian nation have gone to Hong Kong and to
Singapore, and there, because of their social vices, elaborated a
system, first of all of brothel slavery; and domestic slavery has
sheltered itself under its wing, as it were; and lastly, at Singapore
coolie labor is managed by the same set of officials. What these
officials have done has been accepted by the Oriental people about
them as done by the Christian civilization. It cannot be said that the
evils mentioned above have been the outgrowth of Oriental conditions
and customs, principally. It has been rather the misfortune of
the Orient that there were brought to their borders by Western
civilization elements calculated to induce their criminal classes to
ally themselves with these aggressive and stronger "Christians" to
destroy safeguards which had been heretofore sufficient, for the most
part, to conserve Chinese social morality.

Christian people, even as far back as Sir John Bowring, Governor
of Hong Kong, and up to the present time, both at Hong Kong and
Singapore, have acquiesced in the false teaching that vice cannot be
put under check in the Orient, where, it is claimed, passion mounts
higher than in the Occident, and that morality is, to a certain
extent, a matter of climate; and in the presence of large numbers of
unmarried soldiers and sailors it is simply "impracticable" to attempt
repressive measures in dealing with social vice. These Christians
have listened to counsels of despair, - the arguments of gross
materialists, - and have shut their eyes to the plainly written THOU
SHALT NOT of the finger of God in His Book.

Had there been the same staunch standing true to principle in these
Oriental countries as in Great Britain the state of immorality
described in the pages of this book could never have developed to the
extent it did. But Christians yielded before what they considered at
least unavoidable, and, not abiding living protests, must take their
share of blame for the state of matters. A higher moral public opinion
_could_ have been created which would have made the existence of
actual slavery an impossibility, with the amount of legislation that
existed with which to put it down. There were a guilty silence and
a guilty ignorance on the part of the better elements of Christian
society at Singapore and Hong Kong, which could be played upon by
treacherous, corrupt officials by the flimsy device of calling the
ravishing of native women "protection," and the most brazen forms of
slavery "servitude." To this extent the individual Christians of these
colonies are in many cases guilty of compromise with slavery; and to
this extent the title of this book applies to them.

The vices of European and American men in the Orient have not been
the development of climate but of opportunity. It is not so easy in
Christian lands to stock immoral houses with slaves, for the reason
that the slaves are not present with which to do it. Women have
freedom and cannot be openly bought and sold even in marriage; women
have self-reliance and self-respect in a Christian country; they have
a clean, decent religion; women who worship the true God have His
protecting arm to defend themselves, and through them other women
who do not personally worship God share in the benefits. If free,
independent women of God were as scarce in America as in Hong Kong the
same moral conditions would prevail here, without regard to climate,
for, _if women could be bought and sold and reduced by force to
prostitution, there are libertines enough, and they have propensities
strong enough to enter at once upon the business, even in America_.
That which has elevated women above this slave condition is the
development of a self-respect and dignity born of the Christian faith.
But let us take warning. If the women of America have not the decent
self-respect to refuse to tolerate the Oriental slave-prostitute in
this country, the balance will be lost, libertines will have their own
way through the introduction into our social fabric of their slaves,
and Christian womanhood will fall before it. "Ye have not proclaimed
liberty every one to his fellow, therefore I proclaim liberty to you,
saith the Lord, to the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence."

Having yielded before counsels of despair, those who should have stood
shoulder to shoulder with statesmen like Sir John Pope Hennessy and
Sir John Smale in their efforts to exterminate slavery, rather, by
their indifference and ignorance, greatly added to the obstacles put
in their way by unworthy officials.

The story we have to relate cannot in any fairness be used as an
arraignment of British Christianity excepting as we have already
indicated as to local conditions. The record that British Christian
philanthropists have made, under the leadership of the now sainted
Mrs. Josephine Butler, in their world-wide influence for purity, needs
no eulogy from our pen. It is known to the world. May Americans strive
with equal energy against conditions far more hopeful of amendment,
and we will be content to leave the issue with God.

It was our purpose when we undertook the task of writing a sketch
which would enable Americans to understand the social conditions that
are being introduced into our midst from the Orient, merely to make
a concise, brief statement of social conditions in Hong Kong out of
which these have grown, drawing our information from State Documents
of the British Government that we have had for some time in our
possession, and of which we have made a close study, as well as from
our own observations of the conditions themselves as they exist at
Hong Kong and Singapore. But almost at once we abandoned that attempt
as unwise because likely to prove injurious rather than helpful to the
object we have in view. The facts that we have to relate form one of
the blackest chapters in the history of human slavery, and slavery
brought up to the present time. Our statements if standing merely on
our own word would be met at once with incredulity and challenged, and
before we could defend them by producing the proof, a prejudice would
be created that might prove disastrous to our hopes of arousing our
country to the point of exterminating this horrible Oriental brothel
slavery by means of which even American men are enriching themselves
on the Pacific Coast.

Therefore we have felt obliged to produce our proof at once and at
first, and after that, if needed, we can write a more simple, concise
account, in less official and less cumbersome form, more suitable for
the general public to read, - not that the case could be stated in
purer or cleaner language than that used in the quotations from
official statements and letters, but the language might be more suited
to public taste. But worth cannot be sacrificed to taste, and, as we
have said, we feel compelled to publish the matter in its present form
first of all.

We send it forth, therefore, with the earnest prayer that, while
the book itself may have a limited circulation, yet, through the
providence of God, it may arouse some one to attempt that which seems
beyond our powers and opportunity, - some one who will feel the call of
God; who has the training and the ability; some one who has the spirit
of devotion and self-denial; some one of keen moral perceptions and
lofty faith in the ultimate triumph of justice, who will lead a
crusade that will never halt until Oriental slavery is banished from
our land, and it can no more be said, "The name of God is blasphemed
among the heathen because of you."

The documents from which we have quoted so extensively in this book
are the following:

"_Correspondence Relating to the Working of the Contagious Diseases
Ordinances of the Colony of Hongkong_." August 1881. C.-3093.

"_Copy of Report of the Commissioners Appointed by His Excellency,
John Pope Hennessy ... to inquire Into the Working of the Contagious
Diseases Ordinance, 1867_." March 11, 1880. H.C. 118.

"_Correspondence Respecting the Alleged Existence of Chinese Slavery
in Hongkong_." March, 1882. C.-3185.

"_Return of all the British Colonies and Dependencies in Which by
Ordinance or Otherwise Any System Involving the Principles of the Late
Contagious Diseases Acts, 1866 and 1869, is in force, with Copies of
Such Ordinances or Other Regulations_." June, 1886. H.C. 247.

"_Copies of Correspondence or Extracts Therefrom Relating to the
Repeal of Contagious Diseases Ordinances and Regulations in the Crown
Colonies_." September, 1887. H.C. 347

Same as above, in continuation, March, 1889. H.C. 59.

Same as above, in continuation, June, 1890. H.C. 242.

"_Copy of Correspondence which has taken place since that comprised
in the Paper presented to the House of Commons in 1890_ (H.C. 242),"
etc., June 4, 1894. H. C. 147.

"_Copy of Correspondence Relative to Proposed Introduction of
Contagious Diseases Regulations in Perak or Other Protected Malay
States_." June 4, 1894. H.C. 146.

May 1907









Time was when so-called Christian civilization seemed able to send its
vices abroad and keep its virtues at home. When men went by long
sea voyages to the far East in sailing vessels, in the interests of
conquest or commerce, and fell victims to their environments and weak
wills, far removed from the restraints of religious influences, and
from the possibility of exposure and disgrace in wrongdoing, they
lived with the prospect before them, not always unfulfilled, of
returning to home and to virtue to die.

That day has passed forever. With the invention of steam as a
locomotive power of great velocity, with the introduction of the
cable, and later, the wireless telegraphy; with the mastery of these
natural forces and their introduction in every part of the world, we
see the old world being drawn nearer and nearer to us by ten thousand
invisible cords of commercial interests, until shortly, probably
within the lifetime of you and me, the once worn out and almost
stranded wreck will be found quickened with new life and moored
alongside us. The Orient is already feeling the thrill of renewed
life. It is responding to the touch of the youth and vigor of the
West and becoming rejuvenated; it is drawing closer and closer in its
eagerness for the warmth of new interests. The West is no longer alone
in seeking a union; the East is coming to the West. And that part of
the East which first responds to the West is the old acquaintance; the
one that knows most about us, our ways and our resources; the element
with which the long sea-voyager mingled in the days when it seemed
more difficult for man to be virtuous, because separated so far from
family and friends and living in intense loneliness. The element which
now draws closest to us is that portion of the Orient with which the
adventurer warred and sinned long ago, and which bears the deep scars
of sin and battle.

As the old hulk is moored alongside, in order that the man of Western
enterprise may cross with greater facility the gangplank and develop
latent resources on the other side, the Easterner hurries across from
his side to ours with no less eagerness, to pick up gold in a land
where it seems so abundant to him. Almost unnoticed, the Orient is
telescoping its way into the very heart of the Occident, and with
fearful portent and peril, particularly to the Western woman.

This is not what is desired, but it will be inevitable. Exclusion
laws must finally give way before the pressure. Already the Orient is
knocking vigorously at the door of the Occident, and unless admission
is granted soon, measures of retaliation will be operated to force an
entrance. How to administer them the Orient already knows, for has
not the door to his domicile been already forced open by the Western
trader? The Orient is fast arming for the conflict.

The men of the days of sailing vessels, who went to the far East and
made sport of and trampled upon the virtue of the women of a weaker
nation, have not all died in peace, leaving their vices far off
and gathering virtues about them to crown their old age with
venerableness. Some have lived to see that whatsoever man soweth that
shall he also reap. They have lived to see the tide setting in in the
other direction, and the human wreckage of past vices swept by the
current of immigration close to their own domicile. Their own children
are in danger of being engulfed in the polluting flood of Oriental
life in our midst. After many days vices come home. Man sowed the
wind; the whirlwind must be reaped. The Oriental slave trader and the
Oriental slave promise to become a terrible menace and scourge to our
twentieth century civilization. Herein lies great peril to American
womanhood. Whether we wish it to be so or not, - whether we perceive
from the first that it is so or not, there is a solidarity of
womanhood that men and women must reckon with. The man who wrongs
another's daughter perceives afterwards that he wronged his own
daughter thereby. We cannot, without sin against humanity, ask the
scoffer's question, "Am I my sister's keeper?" - not even concerning
the poorest and meanest foreign woman, for the reason that _she is
our sister_. The conditions that surround the Hong Kong slave girl in
California are bound in time to have their influence upon the social,
legal and moral status of all California women, and later of all
American womanhood.

In considering the life history of the Chinese woman living in our
Chinatowns in America, therefore, we are studying matters of vital
importance to us. And in order to a clear understanding of the matter,
we must go back to the beginning of the slave-trade which has brought
these women to the West.

Four points on the south coast of China are of especial interest to
us, being the sources of supply of this slave-trade. These are Macao,
Canton, Kowloon and Hong Kong, and the women coming to the West from
this region all pass through Hong Kong, remaining there a longer or
shorter time, the latter place being the emporium and thoroughfare of
all the surrounding ports.

The south coast of China is split by a Y-shaped gap, at about its
middle, where the Canton river bursts the confines of its banks and
plunges into the sea. The lips of this mouth of the river are everted
like those of an aboriginal African, and like a pendant from the
eastern lip hangs the Island of Hong Kong, separated from the mainland
by water only one-fourth of a mile wide. From the opposite or western
lip hangs another pendant, a small island upon which is situated the
Portuguese city of Macao. The mainland adjoining Hong Kong is the
peninsula of Kowloon, ceded to the British with the island of Hong
Kong. Well up in the mouth of the river on its western bank, some
eighty miles from Hong Kong, is the city of Canton.

Let us imagine for a moment that the on-coming civilization of our
country pushed the American Indians not westward but southward toward
the Gulf of Mexico and along the banks of the Mississippi, and
compressed them on every side until at last they were obliged to take
to boats in the mouth of the Mississippi and live there perpetually,
seldom stepping foot on land.

Now we are the better able to understand exactly what took place with
an aboriginal tribe in China. These aborigines were, centuries ago,
pushed southward by an on-coming civilization until at last, by
imperial decree, they were forbidden to live anywhere except on boats
in the mouth of the Canton river, floating up and down that stream,
and sailing about Hong Kong and Macao in the more open sea.

They must have been always a hardy people, for the river population
about Canton numbers today nearly 200,000 souls. In 1730, the severity
of the laws regulating their lives was relaxed somewhat by imperial
decree, and since then some of them have dwelt in villages along the
river bank. But to the present day these people, known as the Tanka
Tribe, or the "saltwater" people, by the natives, may not inter-marry
with other Chinese, nor are they ever allowed to attain to official

Living always on boats near the river's mouth, these were the first
Chinese to come in contact with foreign sailing vessels which
approached China in the earliest days. They sold their wares to the
foreigners; they piloted their boats into port; they did the laundry
work for the ships. In many ways they showed friendliness to the
foreigners while as yet the landsman viewed the new-comers with
suspicion. Their women were grossly corrupted by contact with the
foreign voyagers and sailors.

Hong Kong was a long way off at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, when Great Britain began to send Government-manufactured
opium from India to China, and when China prohibited the trade the
drug was smuggled in. When Chinese officials at last rose up to check
this invasion by foreign trade, wars followed in which China was
worsted, and the island of Hong Kong, together with the Kowloon
peninsula, became a British possession as war indemnity. Hong Kong
is a "mere dot in the ocean less than twenty-seven miles in
circumference," and when Great Britain took possession its inhabitants
were limited to "a few fishermen and cottagers."

The Tankas helped the British in many ways in waging these wars, and
when peace was established went to live with them on the island. This
action on the part of these "river people" is significant as showing
as much or more attachment to the foreigner than to the other classes
of Chinese. There seems always to be less conscience in wronging
an alien people than in injuring a people to whom one is closely
attached, and this sense of estrangement from other Chinese may
account to some extent for the facility with which this aboriginal
people engaged, a little later, in the trade in women and girls
brought from the mainland to meet the demands of profligate

Sir Charles Elliott, Governor of Hong Kong, wishing to attract Chinese
immigration to the island, issued, on February 1st and 2nd, 1841, two
proclamations in the name of the Queen, to the effect that there would
be no interference with the free exercise on the part of the Chinese
of their religious rites, ceremonies and social customs, "pending Her
Majesty's pleasure."

Following the custom of all Oriental people, to whom marriage is a
trade in the persons of women, when the Tankas saw that the foreigners
had come to that distant part almost universally without wife or
family, they offered to sell them women and girls, and the British
seem to have purchased them at first, but afterwards they modified the
practice to merely paying a monthly stipend. All slavery throughout
British possessions had been prohibited only a few years before the
settlement of Hong Kong, in 1833, when 20,000,000 pounds had been
distributed by England as a boon to slave-holders.

Hong Kong's first Legislative Council was held in 1844, and its first
ordinance was an anti-slavery measure in the form of an attempt to
define the law relating to slavery. It was a long process in those
days for the Colony to get the Queen's approval of its legislative
measures, so that a year had elapsed before a dispatch was returned
from the Home Government disallowing the Ordinance as superfluous,
slavery being already forbidden, and slave-dealing indictable by law.
On the same day, January 24th, 1845, the following proclamation was
made: "Whereas, the Acts of the British Parliament for the abolition
of the slave trade, and for the abolition of slavery, extend by their
own proper force and authority to Hong Kong: This is to apprise all
persons of the same, and to give notice that these Acts will be
enforced by all Her Majesty's officers, civil and military, within
this Colony."

The "foreigners," by which name, according to a custom which prevails
to this day in the East, we shall call persons of British, European or
American birth, - called a native mistress a "protected woman," and her
"protector" set her up in an establishment by herself, apart from
his abode, and here children were born to the foreigner, some to be
educated in missionary schools and elsewhere by their illegitimate
fathers and afterwards become useful men and women, but probably the
majority, more neglected, to become useless and profligate, - if girls,
mistresses to foreigners, or, as the large number of half-castes in
the immoral houses at Hong Kong at the present time demonstrates, to
fall to the lowest depths of degradation.

These "protected women," enriched beyond anything they had even known
before the foreigner came to that part of the world, with the usual
thrift of the Chinese temperament, sought for a way to invest their
earnings, and quite naturally, could think of nothing so profitable
as securing women and girls to meet the demands of the foreigners.
Marriage having always been, to the Oriental mind, scarcely anything
beyond the mere trade in the persons of women, it was but a step from
that attitude of mind to the selling of girls to the foreigner, and
the rearing of them for that object. The "protected women," being of
the Tanka tribe, were well situated for this purpose, for they had
many relations of kindred and friendship all up and down the Canton
river, and the business of the preparation of slave girls for the
foreigners and for foreign markets (as the trade expanded) gradually
extended backwards up the Canton river, until many of its boats were
almost given over to it. "Flower-boats" were probably never unknown to
this river, but, besides their use as brothels, they became stocked
with little girls under training for vice, under the incitement of an
ever-growing slave trade. These little girls were bought, stolen or
enticed from the mainland by these river people, to swell the number

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Online LibraryKatharine Caroline BushnellHeathen Slaves and Christian Rulers → online text (page 1 of 18)