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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/500

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482
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pansion of this country. Discussion of the subject has been almost entirely along the line of the possible effects of the new policy on the political institutions and popular ideals of the United States, and little has been written which may be said to throw any light on the problem of tropical colonization per se.

A residence of ten years in the tropical colonies of France, Spain, Holland, and Great Britain—a period during which I devoted much time to the study of colonial affairs—leaves me of opinion that there are two points in regard to which discussion is peculiarly opportune: 1. The value of the Philippines and Puerto Rico as a field for the cultivation of those tropical products which are consumed in the temperate zones. 2. The value of the islands as a market for products and manufactures of the temperate zones.

It will at once be seen that only in so far as the islands are valuable in the former respect can they be important in the latter, for in the absence of production there can not be any considerable consumption of commodities.

The first point to be considered, and it is the one to which I shall confine myself in the present article, is by what means the productive possibilities of Puerto Rico and the Philippines can be developed.

Basing my calculation on official reports covering a number of years, I find that the average value per capita of the annual exports of native products from a number of tropical colonies selected by me for the purpose of this inquiry is as follows:

Trinidad $26.48 Dominica $7.28
British Guiana 34.26 St. Vincent 7.68
Martinique 23.48 Ceylon 7.24
Mauritius 20.28 Montserrat 7.89

An examination of these figures will serve to show that the value of the colonies in the first column, measured by the standard of their productiveness, is three times that of the colonies in the second column. Reference to the population returns of the colonies named discloses the fact that in the colonies in the first column the population contains a very large proportion of imported contract laborers and their descendants, while in the other colonies practically the whole population is home-born for at least two generations.

A moment's reflection will show the importance of the comparison instituted above, and if the space at my command permitted a more extensive analysis of the trade of tropical colonies, it could be demonstrated that the theory holds good, almost without exception, that of tropical countries those only are commercially valuable in which a system of imported contract labor is in force.

There are one or two colonies (Barbados is the most striking example) in which the pressure of population is so great that the labor