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SAMANA, October 15, 1877. (Received November 20.) A report upon the climate, soil, products, and agriculture of San Domingo,
with some vieurs on its adaptability to American and European immigration.
PENINSULA OF SAMANA,
The luxuriant vegetation of the tropics is probably seen to unusual advantage on the peninsula of Samana, by reason of the peculiar configuration of the land, which, generally speaking, is so billy as to be, perhaps, better described as mountainous. Deep valleys divide the emi. nences in all directions, through which light and shade alternate with charming variety. Vegetable mold, washed from the surrounding heights by the heavy rains common to these regions, render these val. leys extremely prolific of spontaneous plant life, which approaching and, in many cases, terminating on the shores of the bay, mingles with the stately growth of the cocoa-nut groves planted in the sandy soil, in which they thrive so near the sea that the salt water often laves the roots of the trees. Thus from the highest peaks an unbroken line of verdure meets the eye until the green of the forest is lost in the silvery sheen of the placid waters of the bay.
Upon the heavily-timbered peaks of the peninsula much valuable wood is still to be found, principally mahogany and lignum-vitæ, which, from the impracticable nature of the country for road-making, is left in unbroken solitude and grandeur.
The rapidity of the growth of certain kinds of vegetation in this island is indeed wonderful, but it unfortunately happens that where a crop planted for the purpose of sustenance will grow an inch in a certain space of time, a dozen or more of pestiferous weeds will in the same length of time grow half a foot.
The small cultivated patches are called “conooks," a suitable location for one of which having been selected, the Dominican agriculturist assembles his neighbors and friends to a “ convite." A repast of roast pork, boiled rice, and plantains, with a due allowance of "tafin" (native rum), having been served, the work is commenced. They fell the trees, lop off the limbs, burn the brush (after it has lain a few days to dry in the sun), the stumps and trunks being left as they lie to rot. Immedi. ately after the first heavy shower of rain the ground is planted. The planter for a time watches his patch carefully, destroying the weeds as they appear. After the crop bas attained a height sufficient to insure its arrival at maturity before the weeds can overtop it, the proprietor
abandons it to its fate, and, lazily swinging in his hammock, calmly surveys the race between his food-crop and its enemies, many of which are parasitical, so that by the time the crop is matured it is generally reaped among a tangled growth of rank weeds almost impassable.
A new patch is usually cleared off each year, it being less laborious and more expeditious to fell trees and burn off the brush than to clean land which has been planted over. Timbered land, being sheltered from the sun by the branches of the trees overhead, is always found comparatively free from the tough matted grass and creepers, which require light and heat to foster their growth, and which overspread the cleared and open spaces. To “clean” (limpiar), as it is here termed, requires a stooping position and labor with the hoe, to the use of which the Dominican planter is strongly averse; clearing land is cheerfully undertaken, neighbors and friends assembling at the convite for this purpose. Cleaning land is a different kind of labor, difficult to accomplish. An ax, a machete, and a hoe is about all that is considered necessary for agricultural pursuits in Santo Domingo.
Rank and luxuriant vegetation, however pleasing to the eye, and however much it may add to the beauty of the landscape, if taken as an indication of extreme fertility of the soil in yielding useful crops, is sure to end in disappointment. As to the rapid growth of vegetation, it is a question if any thing that requires care and cultivation can be brought to maturity any quicker bere than in a more temperate climate. As to the quality of the produce, no vegetable grown in Santo Domingo can in any way compare with the same kind of vegetable grown in Europe or North America. The idea that I wish to convey is that any. thing produced from the soil of Santo Domingo, and which can be grown at all in the United States—can be and is brought to a greater state of perfection there than can ever be hoped for here. How far this assertion may be modified by a more intelligent cultivation of this soil remains to be seen. The Dominican race, too strongly wedded to old customs and habits, too ignorant and too idle to profit by example, cannot be looked to for a much more intelligent cultivation of the soil than they now exercise. If improvement in cultivation, which naturally enhances the value of the produce, is ever brought about in this republic, it must be done by immigration.
Favorable conditions.-An extent of territory capable of supporting a population of several millions, and which territory is inhabited by less than 200,000 people. A climate equable, and as healthy as can be found in the tropics. A soil diversified and at least of average productiveness. An almost continuous summer throughout the year. A geographical position decidedly advantageous.
Unfavorable conditions.-On the other hand, we live in a country the constitution of which, however liberal it may appear, is practically a dead letter, it being suspended on the outbreak of one of the ever-recurring revolutions, and martial law proclaimed.
The inhabitants, generally, are adverse to foreign residents among them ; jealousy and envy rankle in the heart of the average Dominican toward the stranger.
The courts of justice are corrupt to an extent probably unparalleled. No stranger can ever bope to get justice in any suit at law with a Dominican.
Titles to land are conflicting, making it extremely difficult to procure a title which is in every way clear.
The foregoing may be considered as the principal points pro and con, to the careful consideration of which intending emigrants from the United States should be especially directed.
A residence of nearly five years in Santo Domingo has given me facil. ities for acquiring a knowledge of the country which have not been entirely neglected. The causes which have led to success or failure in establishing colonies in other countries have also been carefully studied by me.
IMMIGRATION FROM THE UNITED STATES.
Should emigration of colored people from the Southern States on an extensive scale be deemed advisable, the movement should be made under the auspices of the United States Government, which should require certain guarantees from the Dominican Government, which it is probable would be acceded to in consideration of the advantages to be derived from an increase of the population of the republic.
GERMAN IMMIGRATION AND PROTECTORATE.
A scheme was projected some two years since for the introduction of a large colony of German immigrants into this island, and while nothing can herein be positively asserted as to the true cause of the failure of the scheme, I have been in such a position as to obtain information which would lead to the opinion that the decided hostility of Bismarck to the movement was all that prevented its taking place. Rumors have been in circulation for some time past that secret negotiations have been going on between the present administration of this republic and the court at Berlin tending to the establishment of a German protectorate over Santo Domingo. I am not prepared to assert or deny the truth of such rumors, but I believe that the company owning the Hamburgh. American line of steamers, and whose ships touch here regularly, are endeavoring to obtain a concession from the Bay Government for the purpose of establishing here a coaling station, with a view, probably, of making Samana the rendezvous or headquarters of their steamers in the West Indies. Such an establishment by a powerful foreign corporation from Germany, a country which so carefully guards and protects its commercial interests, would, without doubt, lead to complications between that country and Santo Domingo which, sooner or later, would require the grave consideration of the Government of the United States.
BENJAMIN F. CLARK.
BANGKOK, March 12, 1877. (Received June 7.) A report upon the trade and commerce of Siam for the year 1876. Accompanying this report will be found tables showing the commerce and navigation of Siam through the port of Bangkok for the year ending December 31, 1376.
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS.
From an analysis of these statements, accompanying this report, it will be seen that the value of the productions of this country exported during the year 1876 amounted to $8,315,683, or $112,000 less than that of the preceding year, while the imports amounted to $7,070,053, or $686,818 more than the preceding year. More than 68 per cent. of the entire tradeis carried on with Singapore, the direct trade with Europe and America being comparatively unimportant. Singapore has become one of the most extensive commercial ports in Southern India. Being a free port and centrally situated, it affords great facilities for the distribution of the products of other countries to all parts of the East, and hence it may be regarded as the most inportant distributing point in this section of the world. The bulk of foreign manufactures, however, such as cotton yarn, machinery, ship.chandlery, arms and ammunition, hardware, piece-goods, &c., brought to this port from Singapore, come indirectly from England and the Continent, and it may be safely stated tbat those nations enjoy a practical monopoly in furnishing the Siamese with almost every article of consumption furnished abroad, except liquors, matting, silks, and fire.crackers, which come principally from China.
One hundred and eighty-two British vessels, sail and steam, of 89,462 tons, the value of whose cargoes was $2,658,226, cleared from this port during 1876, against a clearance during the preceding year of 204 vessels, of 107,789 tous, the value of whose cargoes was $4,603,770. This large decrease in the carrying trade by British vessels is to be accounted for, in a measure, by the steady increase of German commerce in the East, as shown by the following:
Statement showing the clearance of German ressels from Bangkok for the past four years.
Previous to 1875 there were no German steamers cleared from this port; during that year there were 12, and during the year just closed 18. American shipping.-In 1871 eleven American vessels cleared from hence. The number has gradually decreased since then, but I am happy to be able to announce that there will be a larger number of our ships here this year than at any former period.
The export of rice during 1876 amounted to over 36,000,000 ponnds, or 9,000,000 pounds more than during the preceding year. I am not able to state whether this increased production is attributable to an enlarged area under cultivation or to a favorable season. This valuable product of this marvelously fertile country was exhausted earlier this year than usual, and commanded a much higher price at the close of the season than formerly, and the new garden rice is arriving so slowly that the natives are still enabled to maintain extreme prices. The bulk of the crop will come forward during the latter part of the present month. The crop is said to be much greater than usual.
A ready market is at hand for all the rice that Siam can produce, and, if a proper system of irrigation were adopted by the government, it is certain that two crops could be raised instead of one every year, without materially impairing the productive capacity of the soil.
COMMERCE WITH THE UNITED STATES.
It is to be regretted that our commercial relations with this country are not of a more intimate character. Our diplomatic intercourse is now more friendly than it has been at any former period since the rati. fication of the present treaty, and the respect entertained by the authorities of Siam for our government is profound and earnest.
Last year there were only 294,000 pounds of rice exported from Bangkok directly to the United States, and little of importance returned from our shores. I can see no reason why a good trade cannot be built op between the two countries. I have assurances from undoubted an. thority that orders will be sent to the United States during the present year for many articles heretofore purchased in the markets of Europe.
It is a matter of general surprise that there is not an American business house in this country. In fact, there is but one American here engaged in business, with the exception of a few mariners, who are endeavoring to gain a livelihood by the sale of inferior liquors.
There are few places in the East which offer better inducements for the establishment of a mercantile house under American management, and there are many reasons for believing that when the opportunities for remunerative trade become fully known in the United States some of our enterprising merchants having connections with the East will extend their business to this port.
PROGRESS OF SIAM.
Siam is slowly but steadily advancing. Twenty years ago only six foreign vessels visited this port daring a period of fifteen months. In 1872 the tonnage of foreign and Siamese vessels cleared at the customhouse amounted to 130,000 tons, and in 1876 exceeded 225,000 tons. In 1840 there was but one Siamese vessel ; in 1874 there were 129 ressels entered and 147 cleared at this port under that flag.
As a people, the Siamese are not as fond of trade and industrial pursuits as the Chinese, but they are very observing and anxious to learn