From all over the world a flood of evidence is now being presented showing the dependence on the tropics of every civilized people. Benjamin Kidd* clearly shows the fact that the English speaking world, though it cannot live in the tropics, is absolutely dependent upon tropical goods for its existence. England's trade alone, in 1895, amounted to *738,000,000 sterling, and of this, *138,000,000 was with tropical countries, *233,000,000 with the English speaking world, and *367,000,000 with the rest of the world. The tropical imports were valued as follows in millions of pounds sterling:
Drugs and Dyes............................. 5.3
Gum, Oils and Gutta-percha.................. 3.4
Tobacco.................................... 4.3 and an enormous list of other articles, such as hard woods, silk, hides, minerals, and foods.
O. P. Austin, Chief of Bureau of Statistics,* showed the growing consumption of tropical and subtropical goods in America, and proved that there is a bond between the tropics and the United States. From 1870 to 1901 the consumption of sugar increased from thirty-three pounds per capita to sixty-eight; coffee from six to twelve; cacao increased six times per capita, while silks, then a luxury, are now a necessity, and rubber, but little used then, is now essential. Fruits, nuts, spices, goat-skins, tobacco, cotton, gums, dyewoods and fibers are used in greater and greater quantities, the total value of importations mounting from $143,000,000 to $400,000,000. The prices are much less now than in 1870; imported sugar averaged two and three-tenths cents per pound, whereas it was five; coffee has dropped from eighteen to seven and three-tenths; tea from twenty-four to twelve and three-tenths; raw silk from five to three. The amounts of these importations increase much faster than the population. While our population increased 100%, the coffee imported increased 300%, sugar 300%, cacao 1,000%, fibers and tobacco four times, rubber five and one-half, silk twenty-four times, the greatest increase being in the raw materials needed in our factories. The actual value of these products did not increase to such an extent because the average prices were less; thus tea increased in quantity 50%, but the total value was 33% less than in 1870. We need not give more data from Austin's paper, as these are enough to answer his question. "Have we builded better and more wisely than we realized in our recent unsought tropical acquirements?" He shows that the $1,000,000 we daily send to other tropical countries to buy, should go to our own tropics, and thus enable them to buy from our manufacturers. "The capacity of the Philippines for the production of the fibers, tropical nuts and fruits, cacao, rice, spices, dye-woods, tobacco, sugar, and many other articles which we now import from the tropics is already assured; and if it should develop that they can also produce coffee, tea, silk and rubber, they may not only prove the great source of supply for our requirements of tropical products, but in so doing would surely grow extremely prosperous and thus become large consumers of our breadstuffs, provisions and manufacture." These Islands could produce enough hemp to drive out all substitutes now used in the world. Later statistics published by the Department of Commerce and Labor only emphasize this matter and show the enormous extent of our dependence upon the tropics. Even the list of imports is too large to quote here - and they are all valued in the millions. It is quite evident, then, that the Philippines are a valuable and necessary possession, although there are still thousands of able men who think them only a burden.
* "The Control of the Tropics".
* Forum, June, 1902.
Ignorance leads to ridiculous predictions, similar to that absurd speech by Senator White a century ago, in which he denounced the Louisiana purchase as a curse.* It is reported that Mr. Richardson, of Tennessee, made a similar speech in Congress relative to the Philippines. Webster wished to trade our Pacific Coast for some Newfoundland fishing privileges, and Wendell Phillips hoped that the Indians would prevent the construction of our trans-continental railroads. Alaska was called "Seward's Folly," and its cost of $7,000,000 was considered pure waste. We did not appreciate its value for a quarter of a century. It has yielded hundreds of millions of gold alone, and still bids fair to make fabulous returns. We even yet do not know the value of the Aleutian Islands. The fisheries are worth millions yearly, and besides the immense grazing lands fit for stock raising, they are rich in coal and metal and have abundant water power and good harbors. As they have the climate of Norway, they are bound to support a big population in time. As it was more than forty years before the people began to appreciate the Louisiana purchase, more than forty years before they saw the value of the Alaska purchase, it may be forty years before they appreciate the value of the Philippines.
The question constantly arises as to how we are to obtain the necessary labor to raise all these tropical products; the Northern man cannot do manual labor in the fields at all, and only for a few years in shops and sheds, and the native will not work. Mexico and Africa are solving the problem of labor for mines and plantations by importing Chinese, who are the most faithful laborers the world produces. Of course, the importation of Chinese into the Philippines is necessary for all those trades which the natives cannot carry on, and it would undoubtedly be to the advantage of the islands to import them in larger numbers to compete with the native employment. Very serious proposals are made to pass laws compelling the Filipino to work. But this, though temporarily successful in Java, is wholly impractical with us, and it has serious disadvantages in Java, where the native is practically a government slave, and is revolting against his bondage.
* "But as to Louisiana - this new, immense unbounded world - if it should ever be incorporated into this union, which I have no idea can be done but by altering the constitution, I believe it will be the greatest curse that would at present befall us; it will be productive of immense evils, and especially one that I fear even to look upon. Gentlemen on all sides, with but few exceptions, agree that the settlement of this country will be highly injurious and dangerous to the United States. We have already territory enough, and when I contemplate the evils that may arise to these states from this intended incorporation of Louisiana into the Union, I would rather see it given to France, to Spain, or to any other nation on earth upon the mere condition that no citizen of the United States should ever settle within its limits, than to see the territory sold for $100,000,000 and we retain the sovereignty." (See Republican Campaign Book, 1900).
It seems that the conditions in the Philippines will rectify themselves in due time. The peace and high civilization brought by the Americans reduces death rates and increases saturation. The population is sure to increase to the point where there will be a glut of labor. Even if a laborer will work hard but three days in a week, and this is the limit of his strength on his present food, it merely means that when the population is doubled (only a few years hence) there will be enough workmen. We must make haste slowly, and only introduce industries at the rate the labor increases. We need not worry over it, for no matter what we introduce, there will be laborers waiting to make our sugar, rubber, hemp, and whatever else our factories demand. But, of course, the government must stop feeding the starving, for as long as a native receives free food he will never work for it. Since the above paragraph was written, we have built and operated a trolley system in Manila, almost wholly by Malay labor - the white man furnishing the brains. The combination is perfectly satisfactory.