THE necessarily brief sketches and statements of Congressional speeches which appear in the daily papers give a very imperfect impression of what is said. It may be true that many speeches are made which had been better unspoken, and that much long-drawn crudity and folly is carefully preserved in the Record. But it is no less true that careful and able speeches, the result of intelligent study, and comprising much valuable information upon important topics, are delivered in Congress of which the country has really no knowledge whatever. The reporter may like or dislike the speaker, he may attend to the speech or neglect it, he may agree with it or disapprove it, and thousands of readers---indeed, the great body of readers in the country--- must be content with the opinion that the reporter expresses, and know no more, unless they send for the Record. We do not, therefore, propose that the daily papers shall surrender all their space to a report of Congressional proceedings. We only warn the reader to refer to the authentic and full report if he would know what was said.
Most readers probably suppose that in the late Chinese debate in the Senate Mr.HOAR made a hot and narrow protest against the pending bill, asserting violently what we have seen called a half moral truth. The fact is that Mr. HOAR's speech was a very carefully prepared study of the subject, and a very strong and temperate assertion that the bill was needless, the expression of a panic, and in conflict with the fundamental principle of the government. So far as labor is concerned, be declared for a policy that will increase the purchasing power of the wages of the American laborer. He expressly disclaimed all sympathy whatever with those who favor high protection and cheap labor. Those who suppose that upon the subject of the Chinese immigration Mr. HOAR would speak at random and without knowledge, do not know him. He is no more anxious than Senators MILLER and FARLEY, of California, to see American labor degraded, or this country submerged in a Chinese inundation. He understands quite as well as Mr. MONTGOMERY BLAIR that this country is given to us to promote Christian civilization. But he thinks that the particular provisions of the Chinese bill tend to defeat that purpose. In fine, Mr. HOAR has probably mastered the details of the subject, including all the treaties, reports, and testimony, very much more thoroughly than the critics who denounce him as a narrow-minded idealist. The treaty empowers us to "regulate, limit, or suspend" the coming and residence of Chinese laborers, but not to prohibit it. The bill, however, is intended absolutely to prohibit it for twenty years. Moreover, it is not the importation of coolies---to which Mr. HOAR is as much opposed as anybody---but immigration, not the slave, or prostitute, or leper, or thief, against which that bill is levelled, but the laborer coming of his Own will. This Mr. HOAR declares to be the first attempt to place in the law of nations a denial of what America has always asserted to be the inalienable right of every man, the right to change his home and allegiance. It is a limitation of the human rights which it has been always our national pride to assert and maintain; and the tone of the Senators who defended the bill seemed to show that they were aware of it.
Senator HOAR points out how small and insignificant the numbers of the Chinese population in this country are, and what a slight proportion the immigration bears to that from other countries. There are but 100,000 Chinamen in the country. During the last year the Chinese was one seventy-second of the whole immigration. Is this a peril to American institutions? Mr. HOAR holds the support of the bill to be due, first, to race prejudice, and second, to the fear of the cheapness of Chinese labor. He shows that the same hostility has been shown in various countries to the colored race, the Irish, the Jews, and the Indians, and that it is unjust as against the capacity of the Chinese. As for cheap labor, he holds that the Chinaman will insist soon enough upon his full share of the product of his work, and that by a sure economical law every new class of productive laborers elevates the class that it displaces. He cites the report of Mr. MORTON to the effect that the injury to labor even on the Pacific coast may well be doubted, and he quotes the wages of mechanics and laborers in 1878 to show that they were quite as high as those of other parts of the country. Senator HOAR does not deny that there may be great abuses and dangers attendant upon the coming of the Chinese. But they can be largely remedied by State and municipal authority, and Congress may wisely co-operate, while vigilant consular officers should prevent the coming of all but free laborers of good character. The Senator does not believe it to be wise or safe to overthrow the fundamental American principle of the right of every man to the free choice of a home in order to shut out a few Chinese laborers. In the long debate there has been no more cogent and clear application of the American principle to the proposed exclusion of the Mongolian race from the American continent than the speech of Mr. HOAR. The bill will probably become a law, because the treaty was negotiated to procure the passage of such a law, and because the citizens of the Pacific coast, who are immediately concerned, and who are really alarmed, are unanimous in its favor. But Mr. HOAR recalls the country to the principle upon which it has grown to its present power and prosperity.
MARCH 18, 1882