Chinese Bondage in Peru: A History of the Chinese Coolie in Peru, 1849-1874

By Watt Stewart | Go to book overview

II
THE "COOLIE TRADE" AT MACAO

PERU'S PLANTER CLASS bitterly opposed, and were never reconciled to, the abrogation of the "Chinese Law." Early in 1861 their continued insistence, combined with other motives, forced a reopening of the country to the importation of coolies. One of the additional motives arose from the fact that the Civil War in the United States was dearly approaching, and the prospective disruption of the trade in cotton of the Southern States offered the Peruvian cotton growers a wonderful opportunity for gain. An American who spent the years 1863-1865 in Peru in a diplomatic post wrote on this point:

During the American Civil War, when cotton commanded its highest price, the people of Peru rushed its cultivation as if the price of the staple would never fall. Cochineal and sugar plantations were ploughed up and put into cotton. Lands augmented in value; and in the vicinity of Arica the people, unable to obtain lands capable of irrigation from the few running streams, sunk wells near the sea, where fresh water from the mountains, having leached through the sands to the sea-level, was found in abundance.1

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1
Ephraim George Squier, Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas ( New York, 1877), pp. 219-220. See also Memoria del Ministro de Hacienda y Comercio, 1864, p. 35: "Las plantaciones de algodón que se propagan con rapidez asombrosa y que dan copiosas cosechas son otro manantial fecundo de riqueza social y de capitales." It would be helpful if specific data respecting production and export of cotton and sugar in these years could be given, but they cannot, for such figures simply do not exist. The Peruvian Minister of the Treasury and Commerce, in his report to Congress in 1868 (p. 39), reminded that body that the preceding

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Chinese Bondage in Peru: A History of the Chinese Coolie in Peru, 1849-1874
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