Governor LaFayette Grover's Administration

Labor Exchange Communication, 1870

Source: Appendix to Inaugural Address of Gov. LaFayette Grover to the Legislative Assembly August 23, 1870, Salem, Oregon, T. Patterson, State Printer, 1870.


Portland, Oregon, August 23, 1870

Hon. L.F. Grover, Governor of Oregon - Sir:

The undersigned, a Committee of the board of Trustees of the Labor Exchange Association of Portland, beg leave to offer for your consideration, and that of the Legislature of this State at its approaching session, some suggestions of the subject of immigration; and also, to invite your attention to the propriety of the State rendering pecuniary aid, by some measure not involving extravagant expenditure, to the association we represent.

We do not deem it necessary to enter into any lengthy argument to illustrate the benefits to accrue to the State from large immigrations; a few facts will be sufficient. Oregon ranks with the largest of the States in point of territorial area, and among the smallest in population. Its natural resources in everything that contributes to build up large and prosperous communities, are equal to the finest portions of the United States. The climate has no equal for salubrity and healthfulness. The soil is remarkably fertile; and there are many millions of acres of land in our mountains and valleys, on the coast and in the interior, open to purchase and settlement at moderate prices. For the ordinary branches of agriculture, no climate or country can possess more favorable conditions. Possessed of mines of iron and coal, of great extent and value, together with the most extensive forests of timber, with mill streams and water power in abundance, I is capable of being developed into a manufacturing State of no small importance.

That great benefits are to be derived by the people of such a State, from the immigration in large numbers of industrial people from other States, and from European countries, is a proposition which, we take for granted, will not be disputed.

We need population - not of traders, professional men, or mere laborers, for a large influx of those classes, without a corresponding accession of producers, would be a positive detriment - but we want a farming population, especially of that class that require land in small tracts for permanent homes, an devotes itself to the cultivation of a variety of products; for our country and climate are adapted to their pursuits. A very large proportion of the immigration landed at Castle Garden during the past few years is of that class. They are not the dregs of European society, as many people have been misled to believe, but families whose industrious habits have enabled them to accumulate sufficient means to emigrate to America, and settle themselves on the cheap lands of the West.

A report published by the Department of State at Washington, March 31, 1870, puts the total number of immigrants which arrived in the United States during the year 1869 at 345,652; of these, 266,569 arrived at the port of New York. The report of the Department of Agriculture for 1868, in a chapter on immigration received from foreign countries during the period of our natural existence, has been received in the past nine years - that is, from 1860 to 1868 inclusive. This influx of population amounted during those nine years to 2,131,403 souls.

Some statistics have been published, which go to show the final destination of all these people. The Superintendent at Castle Garden, in his published report, says that in one week, in June 1870, there arrived at that place 11,822 immigrants; 8,000 of these started immediately for the West. During the year ending May, 31, 1870, over 316, 000 immigrants arrived at Castle Garden, of whom about one-twentieth were Scandinavians. Of these latter, two thirds have gone West. They brought with them nearly $500,000 in money. Of 50, 000 immigrants who arrived in the month of May, New York got 14, 000; Illinois, 6,000; Pennsylvania, 6,000; New Jersey, 1,500; New England States, 3,000; Southern States, 1,700; the remainder, amounting to nearly 18, 000, went West. The value of immigrants has been variously estimated. The Louisville Commercial Convention set the mark at $1,500. Probably a safer estimate is to be had from Mr. Frederick Kapp, one of the Commissioners of Immigration in New York city. He reckons an immigrant worth just as much to this country as it cost to produce a native born laborer of the same average ability. This cost, he estimates, is $1,500 in the case of a male, and half as much for a female. Averaging the ages and sexes of the immigrants, he estimates each worth $1,125. He estimates further, that immigrants bring with them an average of $150 each, in money and personal property, making the total accession of value from such immigrants, $1,275.

An examination of the foregoing figures will furnish a clue to the remarkable prosperity enjoyed by some of the Western States the past few years. The fact is, those States have been build up within a few years from mere outlying territories into great States, by immigration alone. This is particularly so in the case of Minnesota and Kansas. The population of Minnesota in 1860 was 172, 022; in 1865, about 250, 000; and at the close of the year 1868; it was stated in the annual message of the Governor to be 445,000.

Kansas has increased its population from 107,110 in 1860 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 550,000 in 1870. Both States have thoroughly efficient immigrant organizations, supported by the State. The Board of Immigration of the State of Missouri estimate the additional revenue to the State, derived from immigration by the taxation of the property of immigrants, and the increased value of other property consequent upon the settlement of that immigration in the State, to more than double the appropriations made annually in aid of their immigration scheme. So that Missouri is not only increasing her wealth and population permanently by this means, but makes the operation pay as it goes. These States have gone into the immigration business with energy and enterprise. Their associations have their agents in New York and the principle seaport towns in Europe. Their circulars, maps and emigrant guides are distributed in the language and to the people of all nationalities. Their agents put themselves in communication with, and become the representative agents in Europe and the Atlantic States for ocean steamship and railway lines, and by educating the emigrant to start from his home for their States as his objective point create business for those lines and offer an inducement by which cheaper transportation is secured. At his place of destination the emigrant is received by a local agent who is supplied with maps and price lists of lands in his neighborhood, and authorized to make sales; he acts, also, as the agent for manufacturers of portable houses and other supplies, which he furnishes to the immigrants at original cost. Thus the emigrant secures cheap transportation, attention while en route, cheap lands, and cheap supplies to start with. These people readily adapt themselves to their new surroundings, become contented and prosperous in their new homes, and write back to the old country for their friends to follow them. These organizations draw their emigrating land-buyers from the educated and Christian communities of Central and Northern Europe - a class which brings with it habits of industry and economy.

The President of the Kansas organization, J.S. Loomis, Esp., in a letter on the subject of European Immigration, says: "There are twenty millions of people in European countries who are thinking of emigrating to America as a possible fact, and there are half that number who will come here as soon as circumstances become favorable."

The importance of an energetic effort being made to get a share of this flow of population, and also of the emigrating classes of the Atlantic States, is felt by all who are interested in the material development of Oregon. It is a question of plain matter of fact business which Oregon can not afford to neglect.

No State can afford to remain inert and passive in this matter while neighboring States are exerting themselves to reap the benefits to arise from this Eastern immigration.

The difficulty now will be for Oregon to maker her claims heard among other contestants. Those who have been isolated here for ten or fifteen years do not realize how little is known of this State in the East, and still less in Europe. But even if we were as well known s our sister State, California, still we should stand at such a disadvantage in some other respects as to need special efforts to enable us to meet with any degree of success.

The Labor Exchange Association has directed its efforts mainly to overcome that want of information existing abroad, by the distribution of pamphlets and other printed matter. In this enterprise of advertising the State, the Association has met with good success, considering the means as command. The plan of organization is similar to that of a private corporation. It is managed by a Board of ten Trustees, who elect from their number a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and an Executive Committee. A Secretary is appointed by the Board, who has the power, also, to employ such other persons to carry out the objects of the Association as they may deem advisable and to fix the compensation of the same. The by-laws define the duties of the different officers, and provide for the annual and other meetings of the Association and of the Board of Trustees. The by-laws define the duties of the different officers, and provide for the annual and other meetings of the Association and of the Board of Trustees. The revenues are derived from private subscription. Any person ho pays into the treasury ten dollars or more in any one year becomes a number for that year, and is entitled to cast one vote at the annual and other meetings for every ten dollars so paid in. No charges are made at the office for any business transacted there.

The plan of operations contemplated by the by-laws is to collect statistics of the agricultural and other resources of the State, and as occasion may require, publish and distribute them through the Eastern States and Europe; or in other words, to advertise the State - not by the publication of exaggerated statements, but of simple facts - and thereby let the people of other countries know what Oregon has to offer them. Information is obtained of vacant Government lands, and of private lands for sale or rent, of the opportunities for business or employment in different sections of the state, whereby immigrants on their arrival are enabled to save themselves time and money, as it becomes a general intelligence office for their benefit. Orders are received for help of all kinds and from all parts of the State, and the immigrant and other assisted in procuring employment.

The Association was an experiment, to begin with. Its success in bringing Oregon into notice, and in advertising the just claims held by our State upon the attention of the emigrating classes, has been great enough to justify us in making an earnest effort for its continuance.
The Association was organized in the latter part of August, 1869, and the office opened for business about the 1st of October following.

Up to the 1st of August, 1870, a period of about ten months, about then thousand copies of various publications relating to the resources of Oregon have been distributed in the Atlantic States, including a few sent to Europe. The pamphlets prepared in the office, and published under the direction of the Board of Trustees, comprise the bulk of those publications. They contain every kind of information that would be interesting to people who contemplate emigration. The last edition, published in April last, is very full and complete in statistical and other information. It is generally conceded to bet he best adapted to the purpose for which it is intended, of any publication we have had in Oregon. By placing it in the hands of the leading newspaper throughout the country east of the Rocky Mountains, and in the hands of prominent men, commercial organizations, agricultural and horticultural societies, it has bee the means of scattering information far and wide, and of attracting toward Oregon the attention necessary to be aroused before we can expect any very considerable amount of immigration.

Up to August 1st, there were received at the office from the States east of the Rocky Mountains, over six hundred application, by letter, for information concerning Oregon. Nearly all of them were received since the 1st of March - the first few months of the Society's existence having been consumed in making itself known abroad.

Hundreds of the Society's publications have been obtained at the office by private parties from all parts of the State, and sent to their friends in the older States.

It may not be amiss to cite one or two cases to illustrate the workings of such a method of advertising. A German resident of Portland having obtained a copy of the first pamphlet issued, last December, sent it to some friends in Stephenson county, Illinois. It fell into the hands of a rich German farmer of that county, Mr. Paul Ohling, who made up his mind from the description therein given, that we would go and take a look at Oregon. He arrived at Portland in June last, looked through the Willamette Valley, and finally bought a farm in Linn county for which he paid $13,000. He has gone back to Illinois after his family, and proposes to bring with him a small colony of his German neighbors who wait for his return for further information. Another instance is that of a Mr. Chalmers, a Scottish farmer, who came to California last Spring for the purpose of buying land and making his home there. While in San Francisco, he accidentally got hold of one of our pamphlets and was induced to make a visit to Oregon, the result of which was, that he bought a farm in Washington county, for which he paid $12, 000. He was returned to Scotland after his family, and to inform his friends and neighbors of all the advantages existing in Oregon.

During ten months ending the first of August, 398 persons obtained employment through the office. Of these, all but ninety-two were recent arrivals in Oregon at the time of their engagements. It is usually the case that on the arrival of the steamer from San Francisco, numbers of new comers apply at the office for information relative to advantages and opportunities in different sections for business or labor. The office is provided with the means of furnishing all such with the information they need, except that our finances have not been in condition to enable us to procure proper maps of the public surveys.

The expenditures of the Association for ten months have been as follows:

For Books, Printing, Postage, Stationary,
And the circulation of printed mater……….............$1,066 03
For Office rent, and Fuel……………………………..277 50
For Furniture and Fixtures……………………………..79 00
For Salary and Secretary………………………….. 1,395 00
Total…………………………………….........….$ 2,817 53

Funds to meet these expenses were obtained almost entirely from the business men of Portland - only two subscribers having been obtained out of the city. The present financial basis of the Association, is a monthly subscription list, embracing 117 subscribers, in sums, ranging from one dollar up to five dollars, payable monthly, and amounting in the aggregate t $264 00 per month. This arrangement is to cease the 1st of January, 1871, by the terms of the subscription; and unless aid an be obtained from the State, the office will have to be closed then, as the burden of sustaining it thus far has been quite heavy, particularly so on some individuals. And again, voluntary subscription is a resource too precarious to carry on an enterprise of the kind. On one occasion it became necessary for the Trustees to pledge their private credit to get their pamphlets published.

Now, if aid can be obtained from the State, it is proposed to continue the plan of operations already commenced. First - by publishing from time to time, in pamphlet form, descriptions of Oregon, its soil, climate, and agricultural and other resources, together with such other information as would be valuable to emigrants, and contribute to bring Oregon into prominent notice, and the distribution of these amongst the classes of people for whom they are intended. Second - to employ an agent in New York city, to represent the claims of Oregon amongst the immigrants that land her, to furnish them information and arrange for their transportation. Third - to keep open an office in Portland, with a competent person to attend to the business of the Association, collect statistics, prepare its publications, etc., etc., and to keep the office furnished with suitable maps of public lands, whereby immigrants who may be strangers to our land system, and learn how and where lands are to be obtained for settlement; and where information of all kinds interesting to strangers to our land system, can learn how and where lands are to be obtained for settlement; and where information of all kinds interesting to strangers in a new country can be obtained free of cost. Fourth - to procure employment for immigrants and other as far a practicable.

We think the State should bear the expense of this, as the State at large is to be benefitted by it. It is not just that a few persons should be taxed, even with their own consent, for that which benefits all alike.

We do not propose to suggest large expenditures of money to carry out our plans. Our expenses for ten months have been a fraction over $2,800, but the Trustees have not had the means to make their work near as successful as it might be made; and they have not been able to provide for an agent in New York. The quantity of printed matter issued from the office has been very small, considering the extent of country and number of people we desire to reach.

We have not been able to publish them in any language but the English. In short, the operations of the society have been cramped in many ways by want of means.

Finally, we submit the question for your earnest consideration, believing that it will receive the attention that its importance demands.

Very Respectfully,

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

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