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the skill required of them or the danger to which they are exposed. This is a suicidal policy, and I feel sure that it will be everywhere abandoned in the end by the workingmen themselves.
The gradual extension of "single-hand drilling," and the changes in administration which it frequently involves, have suggested in some quarters the employment of Chinese labor underground. It is not my purpose to enter upon the discussion of the so-called "Chinese question." Indeed, I feel that this subject is hardly in a condition to be properly discussed. Before argument can be made conclusive, it is necessary that a basis of ascertained and acknowledged facts shall be obtained; and this vitally essential preliminary has been thus far flagrantly neglected by the disputants upon the question named. Inflamed by political and other jealousies, each party has dealt in wholesale assertion, and each has endeavored to suppress the facts not favorable to its position. So long as there is a dead-lock of contradiction as to the num ber, character, habits, and capacities of the Chinese in this country, there can be nothing definitely settled as to our duty and policy toward them. I purpose at present merely to contribute some facts with regard to their employment as miners.
Since most of the Chinese in the United States are engaged in placermining on their own account, it is evident that they are well adapted for success in that branch. Indeed, it is universally acknowledged that they work with greater economy than the whites. In most cases, they buy up abandoned claims, and reopen them with profit.
But deep mining is quite a different matter, and requires a different kind of skill. A knowledge of the varying hardness, tenacity, and cleavage of rock and vein-stuff, and of the force of explosives and their effects, is required in this work, if the greatest result is to be obtained from a given expenditure of labor and material. Moreover, a considerable amount of muscular strength and endurance is demanded by the incessant and intense labor of wielding the sledge or hammer.
The experience of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, which employed Chinese in the construction of tunnels, first called attention to their qualifications in this direction. A number of attempts have since been made to introduce them into mines, and generally without permanent success. Sometimes the trouble has been the hostility of other miners, sometimes the difficulty of managing the Chinamen themselves. At Silver Peak, Nevada, the entire force in the Red Mountain mines is said to have been at one time Chinese; but I understand that a change has been made, and white miners are now employed for a part of the work.
The miners in Morey district, Nevada, were last year Chinese, under a white foreman; and the manager declares that they gave him perfect satisfaction, doing as well as an equal number of white men. But the foreman, during the absence of the manager, discharged the whole lot; and no more have been engaged up to this time.
In many quartz-mines and stamp-mills throughout the West, Chinese labor is employed for certain inferior purposes, such as dumping cars, surface excavation, etc. But in most cases there is little gained by it, as these positions could probably be filled as well and as cheaply by boys, old men, etc., from non-celestial climes. The best region for ascertaining the real qualities of this race as miners is, so far as I know, that of the southern mines of California. In Merced, Mariposa, and Tuolumne Counties, for instance, where the decadence of placer-mining has removed a great part of the skilled white labor, many Chinese have been employed for years in quartz-mining. Even before the construction of the Pacific Railroad, there were Chinese miners in the stopes of the Mariposa, Josephine, and Pine-Tree; and in these noted mines they are still employed to a greater or less extent. I have seen in the Mariposa whole shifts of brawny pig-tail wearers, some of whom had followed the business for ten, twelve, or fifteen years.
Putting together the results of experience in all quarters, I arrive at the following conclusions:
1. Neither praise nor condemnation can be sweepingly bestowed upon Chinese miners as a class. They show individual character, just as other people do. Calling them all "John," and treating them all alike, is a measure of ignorance, fatal to successful management. Even the characteristics which they appear to possess in common, whether good or bad, would, I think, disappear if they were less rigorously excluded from the rest of the world.
2. It is troublesome, on some accounts, to run a mine manned entirely by Chinese. They put little faith in the promises of employers, and are pretty certain to stop work if not promptly paid. Even after long experience of fair dealing, they do not seem to acquire confidence in this respect; and they remain to-day, as they always have been, the most reasonable in the matter of wages, and the most unreasonably exact in the matter of payment, of all our laborers. No doubt this distrust is due partly to the difference of race, partly to the injustice and dishonesty with which they have been treated; but, whatever be the cause, the fact is palpable, and not unfrequently seriously injurious to mining enterprises in remote districts, where the money does not always arrive just in time for pay-day, and where the miners, once lost, cannot be immediately replaced.
Another obstacle to the exclusive employment of Chinese is the frequency of their religious festivals and holidays. On these occasions, according to the reports of employers in Mariposa County, they leave the mines en masse, and cannot be induced to work, for sometimes a week together.
3. Chinese skilled miners are quite equal to those of any other race. In some instances they surpass white men employed in the same mines. The number of those who have had sufficient experience to give them equal advantages in the comparison is of course small. Apparently,
the natural qualifications of the race for this class of work are very great; but it should be borne in mind that only those Chinese who have a fitness for it are likely to undertake it, while many white men pretend to be miners, though unskillful, on account of the high wages paid to that class. On the other hand, good Chinese miners command increased wages. Already they are paid in many localities nearly as much as whites; and there is no reason to doubt that in the course of time the equilibrium will be established, and the quantity and quality of labor, not the race of the laborer, will become the measure of wages. Chinese miners are now receiving $1 75 and $2 per day, where they formerly worked for $1 and $1 25.
4. In hard rock they do best with "single" drills, of small steel. So do all miners. The use of the small single drill is becoming quite general in our mines, and is found, where circumstances are favorable, to effect a large saving of cost. One objection to it is, that it is likely to involve underhand stoping, since the single-handed drill cannot conveniently be used in upward holes; and underhand stoping is expensive in mines where the "deads" are packed away in the stopes, and where much timbering is required to support the hanging wall. Generally, where small drills are used, the quicker explosives, such as rifle-powder, dynamite, Hercules powder, (a mixture of nitro-glycerine and common powder.) etc., are best.
5. The greatest superiority of good Chinese miners over European miners is their fidelity. Every mining captain knows that the latter, if working by the shift, need watching to prevent them from idling, and, if working by contract, have a hundred ways of getting the better in the bargain. Now, I do not believe this to be a national characteristic. It is simply professional. When Chinamen shall have worked underground for a generation or two, they also may have acquired these peculiarites. For the present, however, it is certainly true that they are far more earnest and faithful than any other miners. In every department they enjoy the universal reputation of conscientious fidelity. Apart from every other advantage or disadvantage attendant upon their employment, apart from the discrepancy in wages, even, this one attribute of fidelity to the interests of the employer will certainly carry the day for the almond-eyed laborers, if our white workmen do not recognize the danger in which they stand, and avert it by far more sensible means than they have hitherto employed. Good workmen, engaged in avocations which require skill or involve peril, must be allowed to receive higher wages than their comrades. Ambitious workmen must be free to work extra hours, to take odd jobs, to save money for the purposes of study, self-improvement, and advancement, and all workmen must maintain and manifest a desire to earn what they receive. These natural laws being defied, the disastrous result will be inevitable, no matter how long it is postponed; and the punishment will fall heaviest, as it always does, upon the poor. No country, where the common
laborer receives as much as the skilled laborer, can be said to have its industry placed on a secure basis; and no country in which every man cannot freely sell his labor in the market to the employer of his own choice is truly free or likely to be permanently prosperous.
Both political parties on this coast appear to be afraid to speak the truth on the Chinese question. They have settled on a convenient fiction, and they vigorously denounce the importation of "coolies." But the Chinese here are not coolies. They are quite ready to accept the best wages they can get. They even combine, like other folks, in unions, where that is possible. I am told that the Chinese washermen of San Francisco have a union and a fixed rate of prices; and it is even reported that when some traitorous wretch washed shirts below the market rate, they "went for him" and killed him at once.
I repeat, the Chinese will maintain their hold in this country, if they maintain it at all, not by the cheapness, but by the excellence of their labor. Their wages are constantly rising. Before long they will receive everywhere, as they do now in many localities, as much as any man should receive, in view of the cost of provisions and clothing, for the same character of work. The wages question is temporary and will pass away; but the question of character, industry, and skill will remain and constitute the true and dangerous competition of the future. The sum of the whole matter appears to be, that good Chinese miners are highly desirable; that their number is small; that the employment and training of raw hands is attended with considerable inconvenience; that the best system, where it is practicable, is to include two or more nationalities in one mining force; and, finally, that the question of wages will probably settle itself by a rise in the demands of Chinamen and a fall in the price of Christians. This is the present aspect of the case; and it does not seem likely, under all the circumstances, that the Chinese will either be universally introduced or universally excluded as
Individuals will develop, as they should do in a free country, into whatever business suits them best, without reference to their birth or blood. If this seems Utopian, I point to an illustration in the Washington gold mine, near Hornitos, California, where a white superintendent, a black foreman, and a force of yellow miners seem to do very well together. Indeed, one might expect distinctions to disappear underground, since there is no difference of color in the dark.
An event of considerable importance to mining engineers and metallurgists has been the publication of the volume on Mining Industry, of the Report of the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel. The careful and comprehensive review of the mining and metallurgical processes of some of our principal districts, and the sketch of their geological features and vein-phenomena, possess the highest interest and value. Unfortunately the edition of this work authorized by Congress is too small to bring it into general circulation among the communities and classes most directly interested in its contents.
have, therefore, thought it best to extract from it some of the most practically useful portions, condensing them whenever I could do so without material injury to their sense, and adding foot-notes of my own whenever I desired to add to the text or express an opinion at variance with it.
At the request of General Francis A. Walker, Superintendent of the Census, I examined, with the assistance of Mr. A. Eilers, all the mining returns of the assistant marshals from the States and Territories covered by this report. As might have been expected from the imperfection of the law, which neither authorizes the employment of experts in the collection of the statistics of any manufacture for the census, nor provides blanks suitable for peculiar industries like that of the mining and reduction of ores, these returns were frequently both confused and incomplete. A careful revision and much correspondence with the assistant marshals has doubtless improved them, and it is believed that when published they will contain much information of value. That they do not represent fully the mining industry of the West may be inferred from the discrepancy between the aggregate number of miners accounted for on the "manufacturing" blanks and the number shown by the "occupation" blanks. This subject will be more explicitly discussed by the Superintendent of the Census in the volume devoted to it. Meanwhile I am indebted to the census returns for some items in corporated into the accompanying report, chiefly such as the average wages, product, &c., of certain districts, or rather, of the mines in those districts, which happened to be included in the assistant marshals' returns.
In this, as in every former report, I have occasion to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance which has been generously extended to me in many quarters. The most difficult and dangerous portion of the field-work, namely, a rapid reconnaissance of the mining districts of Arizona, was executed, and the chapter on that Territory was written, by Mr. A. Eilers, my deputy, to whom, likewise, I am indebted for intelligent and zealous coöperation in the arrangement of materials for other chapters of the report. Mr. W. A. Skidmore, of San Francisco, traveled for me as extensively as time and means would permit, among the placer, gravel, and cement mines of California, and assisted me greatly in the conduct of correspondence and other means of acquiring information from localities which it was impossible to visit personally. Messrs. Janin, Hodges, Wheeler, and many others in San Francisco; Messrs. Wolters, Von Schulze, Collier, Reichenecker, and others, of Colorado; Messrs. Alexis Janin, Luckhardt, McMurray, Gray, Boalt, Cartis, Hahn, Van Lennep, and others, of Nevada; Messrs. Atlee, Hurley, and Adams, of Idaho; Messrs. McCormick, Safford, Wasson, and Tyng, of Arizona; Messrs. Reed, Mills, Rinehart, Reynolds, Packwood, and others, of Oregon; Messrs. Roberts, Morrison, and others, of Wyoming-these are but a few names out of many which I do not