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Night schools.- In the matter of the request that the plantations provide night schools, it is the sense of the trustees that the plantations can not undertake to educate laborers other than through the facilities afforded by the territorial government.
The Russians arrived in heavy Siberian clothing and with the habits of diet and living of a cold country. They clung to the things to which they were accustomed with a peasant conservatism. . This very greatly interfered with their ability to work and lessened their general comfort.
These conditions, coupled with the irritability usually attending a severe process of acclimatization and of adjustment to the changed environment of an entirely foreign country, soon bred dissatisfaction. There was no well-grounded complaint that the wages and hours of work upon the plantations were not as represented by the government agent in Siberia; but the price of food and clothing was said to be much more than the Russians expected. The cost of living of an oriental or Hawaiian laborer, or possibly of an American workman, allowing for lessened expense for fuel and clothing in the Tropics, is not much more in Hawaii than it would be upon the mainland, or than it probably is in eastern Siberia. But it costs more to live like a Russian in Hawaii than it does in Harbin or Vladivostok. Therefore, the 44 rubles ($22.66) a month did not go so far as was anticipated, and doubtless many of the families that went to the plantations from Siberia had little surplus after settling their bills at pay day.
Among the Russians were some men of education who were entirely out of place as unskilled manual laborers in any capacity, and who could have found a useful vocation only in some American city like New York, having a large Russian colony. These people soon drifted back to Honolulu and mingled with the arriving immigrants, picturing to them work on the plantations as a life of slavery. The conditions they described either were nonexistent, grossly exaggerated, or principally of their own making. Their real grievances were mostly due to the difficulties and misunderstandings that always arise when immigrants are adjusting themselves to new conditions in a strange country, and dealing with people speaking a different language. Some of their disillusionment was not unlikely caused by overcolored accounts of the advantages of Hawaii, spread among them by unscrupulous recruiters of their own nationality, who were employed by the Hawaiian government agent in Siberia to secure immigrants. In a nutshell, many of the immigrants thoroughly disliked the work they had come to do, and found themselves in the situation of having nothing else to turn to. From these discontented fellow countrymen newer arrivals got the idea that they would not like the plantation work, and with a vague and to them
real enough but in fact wholly unjustified suspicion that coercion would be used to make them work in the cane fields if they went to the plantations, remained idling in Honolulu. The situation was aggravated by the fact that contagious diseases appeared among them, causing several parties to be kept in quarantine for some weeks, at great expense to the territorial government. During this period of idleness the immigrants were played upon by influences of discontent. They were led to believe that in some way, through penalties enforced by the immigration law, each could get $1,000 and free passage back to Siberia. Some of the shrewder ones had already formed the project of going on to California, where they had fellow countrymen and knew wages to be higher, having had their fare paid by the Territory as far as Honolulu. Many were not destitute of funds, and those who desired to save steamship fare or lacked money shipped as sailors on the steamers or sailing vessels for San Francisco or around the Horn. A census agent enumerated 14 men, newly arrived from Siberia, who a few days after the date of census taking were thus bound for New York on a single ship.
All this time several hundred Russians were working to all appearances contentedly on the plantations, on the railways, in lumber camps and sawmills, and wherever elsewhere there was an opening for their services. Six hundred or more camped in the open fields in the outskirts of Honolulu, accessible to water and free fuel, and with true muzhik knack at pioneering, erected temporary, but for the season, fairly comfortable shelters. This camp became a show place for Honolulu, as lively at times as a country fair. The Russian men secured enough work on the wharves and through the city to support their families. A number were employed by local building and dam contractors. Some unmarried women found employment as household servants. There was no evidence of suffering among them, though this camp life would not be permanently satisfactory or desirable.
The Russians fraternized with the Chinese and Japanese and their intimacy with the latter gave rise to the suspicion and rumor that Japanese agents, desiring to prevent at the outset an inflow of labor likely to compete on the plantations with their own countrymen, were using personal influence and giving financial support to Russian agitators to prevent immigrants from going to the plantations. But when the new arrivals began to work on the wharves, taking jobs from the Hawaiians who had hitherto monopolized this kind of labor and who have a large longshoremen's union, they came into conflict with that nationality, and to a less extent with the Portuguese. As the Hawaiians are politically dominant and constitute the police force of Honolulu, there were the elements of possible trouble in this situation. It was accentuated when the arrest of some of the Russians for vagrancy and minor offenses caused a small riot at the police station. However, no very serious results followed, and except for this one incident no disturbance of the peace occurred.
. The Russians were physically as fine appearing people as ever came to Hawaii. They brought families, some provisions of money, clothing and household equipment, and were provided to make homes wherever they settled. Most of them were industrious and law abiding. As a class, however, they may be said to lack individual initiative, follow any fluent leader like a flock of sheep, are suspicious and credulous, and are perhaps naturally less quick to “catch on”,than are the Japa
But the difficulties which these first immigrants experienced in Hawaii are not novel. The Norwegians, the Germans, and even the first Japanese and Portuguese went through similar experiences.
The Russian-speaking agent of the board of immigration visited practically all the dependent and unemployed Russian families in the city, as well as a large number of those having regular employment. Those from whom information was not obtained were the exceptionally well-to-do who did not wish to be made the subjects of a social investigation, and a few employed single men who could not be readily found during the hours the agent was in the field.
There were interviewed 69 married men with their wives and children, 19 married women whose husbands were absent from the city, in some cases in California; 52 single men, and 9 single women, the total number of persons interviewed being 389. Of the 69 heads of families, 37 were regularly employed, 22 were irregularly employed as casual laborers, and 10 were unemployed. Of 52 single men, 30 were regularly employed, 11 were working irregularly, and 11 were unemployed. Two of the single women had regular positions, 2 worked irregularly, and 4 reported no employment. Two of the married women whose husbands were in the city worked regularly, and 7 of those whose husbands were out of the city had constant employment. Of the children, 11 boys and 7 girls were working, and 18 boys and 22 girls were attending public school.
The wages of the married men varied from $1 to $3 per day, the average wage for all those who were regularly employed being $1.84 per day. The wages of the single men varied from $1 to $2 a day, the average wage being $1.47. Women and children earned all the way from $2 per week, which was the lowest wage reported for a young girl working in a cannery, to $2 per day, the pay of those working as servants being about $3 per week. Of the 121 adult males, 30 had at some time during their six months' stay in Hawaii worked on the plantations.
In regard to tenement-house conditions, 45 families out of the 69, and practically all the single women, were living in cottages and tenements scattered throughout the city, under practically the same conditions as the rest of the laboring population; 34 of the 52 single men were also boarding or living in similar tenements; 17 families, 1 single woman, and 11 single men were living in houses in a slum district of the city. Most of these were not attracted to this district so much by the cheapness of the rent or by the immoral conditions prevailing in the neighborhood as by the fact that it was adjacent to one of the large pineapple canneries, where many members of these families were employed. Seven families and 7 single men and 2 women whose husbands were absent from the city, a total of 43 persons, were still living in the Iwilei camp, in which the Russians settled immediately after leaving quarantine. The population of this camp varied from 20 to 40 or 50 people at different times. In some cases, where the head of a family was dissipated, a period of unemployment or a protracted spree would bring the family back to the camp after a few weeks or months in better quarters. Thirty-six of the single men and 56 of the 69 married men were able to read and write. In addition to the 40 children attending public school, about 70 adults and minors attended night school at Palama Settlement.
Probably, if enough of the present immigrants remain in the Territory to learn the language and ways of the country and to become acclimated, they will soon rise to be plantation overseers and mechanics, will become small landholders, and altogether will form a most desirable element of the population. If a few hundred of these older residents were scattered throughout the Territory at present they would bridge over the gaps of misunderstanding between residents and newcomers, show the immigrants how to adjust themselves to Hawaiian conditions, and prevent most of the difficulties that have occurred. And if such a population remains from the immigration of 1909 and 1910 a fair prospect exists that at some future time another limited immigration from Siberia will be desirable. Several of the Russians who have come to Honolulu within the past few months have already applied for citizenship. As has been the experience with much assisted immigration in the past, but few of these people were originally farm laborers, and when they arrived in Hawaii agricultural work was as novel to them as it would be to city mechanics and factory operatives from the United States.
The following table shows the increase or decrease of the different oriental nationalities in Hawaii, by immigration and emigration, from June 14, 1900, the date of annexation, to June 30, 1910, or a period of approximately 10 years. These figures are compared with the net gain or loss of population of each nationality as shown by the census for the decennial period. In case of both Japanese and Chinese the natural increase is very large, probably sufficient to double the population of these races every 30 years. But some allowance
should perhaps be made for the probability that orientals were more thoroughly enumerated in 1910 than in 1900, immediately after annexation, and that consequently the increase shown is not entirely a true one. The percentage of deaths is low among the Japanese because this population consists principally of men and women in the first years of manhood and womanhood, and of very young children. For the same reason the birth rate, as compared with the total population of this race in the Territory, is abnormally high, except as modified by a third condition, a smaller proportion of females than is found in a long-resident population.
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES OF ORIENTALS, AT HONOLULU, FROM JUNE 14, 1900,
TO JUNE 30, 1910. (Report of the governor of Hawail to the Secretary of the Interior, for the fiscal year ended June, 30, 1910.)
The table that follows shows the arrivals and departures of different nationalities at Honolulu for the five years ending with 1909 and for the first six months of 1910. The most significant fact, after the history of oriental immigration that it presents, is the large movement of Caucasians to California, which is so constant and of such volume as almost to counteract the influence of a vigorously assisted immigration supported by the Government. The appearance of the Filipino and the Hindu presents a new problem, mingling economic relief with civic and sanitary menace. The net increase of population through the immigration of all the nationalities or races mentioned during the past five years has been two less than a thousand, although during this period nearly 57,000 immigrants arrived in the Territory.