Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The Sacramento Daily Union, September 26, 1866

Honolulu, September 10, 1866.


I have visited Haleakala, Kilauea, Wailuku Valley, the Petrified Cataracts, the Pathway of the Great Hog God - in a word, I have visited all the principal wonders of the island, and now I come to speak of one which, in its importance to America, surpasses them all. A land which produces six, eight, ten, twelve, yea, even thirteen thousand pounds of sugar to the acre on unmanured soil! There are precious few acres of unmanured ground in Louisiana - none at all, perhaps - which will yield two thousand five hundred pounds of sugar; there is not an unmanured acre under cultivation in the Sandwich Islands which yields less. This country is the king of the sugar world, as far as astonishing productiveness is concerned. Heretofore the Mauritius has held this high place. Commodore Perry, in his report on the Mauritius, says:

"Before the introduction of guano into Mauritius the product of sugar on that island was from 2,000 to 2,500 pounds to the acre, but the increase since the application of this fertilizer has been so extraordinary as to be scarcely credible. In ordinary seasons the product has been from 6,000 to 7,000 pounds, and under peculiarly favorable circumstances it has even reached 8,000 pounds to the acre."

It was "scarcely credible." Guano has not been used in the Sandwich Is lands at all, yet the sugar crop of Maui averages over 6,000 pounds straight through, all the time, for every acre cultivated. Last year the average was 7,000 pounds per acre on the Ulupalakua plantation; this year the "plant" crop on the Wailuku plantation averages 8,000. Portions of the Waikapu, Wailuku, Waihee, Ulupalakua, and many other plantations have yielded over 11,000 pounds to the acre, and twenty acres on the fourth named averaged the enormous yield of 13,000 pounds per acre one season! These things are "scarcely credible," but they are true, nevertheless.

By late Patent Office Reports it appears that the average sugar yield per acre throughout the world ranges from 500 to 1,000 pounds. The average in the Sandwich Islands, lumping good, bad and indifferent, is 5,000 pounds per acre.


The cultivation of sugar in the islands dates back fourteen years; its cultivation as an actual business dates back only four years. This year the aggregate yield is 27,000,000 pounds. The cultivation of sugar in Louisiana dates back one hundred and fifteen years; its cultivation as an actual business dates back just one hundred years. When it had been a business forty years there were a hundred plantations in Louisiana - ten years later there were one hundred and fifty on the Mississippi, and the aggregate yield was only 10,000,000 pounds; a few years later it reached 25,000,000. Compare that with the 27,000,000 yield of twenty-nine small plantations in the Sandwich Islands. The sugar history of the islands may be compressed into a very small table. Aggregate yield of pounds for:

1852 - 730,000

1856 - 554,805

1857 - 700,556

1858 - 1,204,061

1851 - 1,826,620

1860 - 1,444,271

1861 - 2,567,498

1862 - 3,005,603

1863 - 5,292,121

1864 - 10,414,441

1865 - 15 318,097

1866 - 27,050.000


The exports of molasses during the entire year of 1865 amounted to half a million gallons - only a little more than was exported during the first six months of the present year.

The following table gives the yield in pounds of the twenty-nine principal plantations for the present year:


Harto - 150,000

Kohala - 2,000,000

Onomea - 1,200,000

Metcalf's - 1,200,000

Kauiki - 1,600,000

Hoonsing - 600,000

Paukau - 600,000


Makee - 1,800,000

Haua - 600,000

Waikapu - 1,000,000

Wailuku - 2,400,000

Bailey & Son - 400,000

Lewers - 2,000,000

Hobron - 1,200,000

Haiku - 800,000

East Maui - 800,000

C. & Turton - 1,000,000

Lahaina Sugar Co - 1,200,000

Bal and Adams - 700,000


Princeville - 2,000 000

Lihue - 700 000

Koloa - 700,000

Waipoa - 300,000


Kauahai - 200,000

Wilder - 600,000

Kaalia - 400,000

Story & Co - 200,000

Halawa - 400,000

Wailua - 300,000

Total - 27,050,000

When all the cane lands in the islands are under full cultivation, they will produce over 250,000,000 pounds of sugar annually.


In Louisiana, sugar planters paid from $20 to $200 an acre for land, $500 to $1,000 apiece for negroes $50,000 to $100,000 for stock, mills, etc., raised 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of sugar to the acre, sold it for 5 and 6 cents - and got rich.

In the Islands wild sugar land is worth from $l to $20 an acre, mills and stock cost about the same as in Louisiana. The hire of each laborer is $100 a year - just about what it used to cost to board and clothe and doctor a negro - but there is no original outlay of $500 to $1,000 for the purchase of the laborer or $50 to $100 annual interest to be paid on the sum so laid out. The price of sugar is double what it was in Louisiana, and the actual net profit to the planter, notwithstanding high freights and high duties, is also double.

In Louisiana, it cost not less than $180,000 to purchase and stock with negroes, mill, animals, etc., a plantation of 300 acres, and its crop would yield $30,000 (allowing each acre to produce 2,000 pounds to the acre - which it wouldn't do). Deduct $60, 000 outlay for negroes and half the cost of the land, $10,000, and the same plantation in the Islands would cost $110,000 and be ready for business. Its crop would yield 6,000 pounds to the acre and sell for $180,000 in San Francisco. If the planters of Louisiana have done well, surely those of the Islands ought.

When the production of a staple steadily increases and capital sticks to it and shows confidence in it, it is fair to presume that investments in it are considered secure and profitable. In 1839, '40 and '41, the yield in Louisiana ranged along in the neighborhood of 100,000,000 pounds annually - price, 4, 5 and 6 cents a pound. In 1852, '53 and '54, her yearly yield fluctuated between 350,000,000 and 500,000,000 pounds - market price, 3 1/2 to 5 cents. Thus, 1,000 to 1,500 pounds to the acre, at 3 1/2 to 6 cents, was so encouraging as to more than quadruple Louisiana's sugar production in less than thirty years. Six or eight thousands pounds to the acre, at 10 to 15 cents a pound, has encouraged the extravagant advance in the Islands from 3,000,000 pounds to 27,000,000, annual yield, in four years. Against this argument in favor of the security and productiveness of capital invested there, no logic can prevail.


They have a bad system in the Sandwich Islands, whereby the planter has to ship twice and pay broker's commissions as often. This must change some day. The sugar pays a duty of three cents a pound when it enters San Francisco, and of course this comes out of the planter's pocket also. This year the Lewers (or Waihee), Wailuku, Ulupalakua, Princeville and Kohala plantations will each pay the United States about $60,000 in coin for duties alone; and the Waikapu, Onomea, Metcalf's and several other plantations whose names I could mention will each pay about half as much. The following bill of expenses will show the processes by which the planter's profits are diminished. The estimate was made in the island of Maui, in June, when sugar had been falling and had got down to $210 to $220 a ton in San Francisco:


Barreling - $16.00

Drayage from mill - $1.00

Shipping to Honolulu - 3.00

Brokerage in Honolulu - 2.50

Freight to San Francisco - 6.00

United States duty - 60.00

Drayage in San Francisco - 1.00

Brokerage in San Francisco - 11.00

Total - $100.50

Gross sale 210.00

Remainder - $109.50

And out of that $109.50 must come about sixty per cent for plantation expenses and interest on the original outlay for land, mill, stock, etc.

The following estimate was made when sugar was worth a cent a pound more. It shows the business done the present year with three hundred acres, on a plantation which cost considerably under $90,000 for its stock, mill, lands and everything complete. The land was purchased unimproved, at an insignificant price. The present year's crop was 1,000 tons of sugar:

Gross yield - $240,000

Plantation expenses - $60,000

Freight, duties, etc., etc. - $120,000

Interest on original outlay - $10,000

Total disbursement - $190,000

Net profit - $50,000

There is more than one plantation in the islands which is worth, with all its appurtenances, $250,000, and will produce a $260,000 crop next year - perhaps this - and yield a profit of $70,000, after deducting all expenses of cultivating, shipping and disposal in San Francisco, and interest.

One of the best plantations in the Islands, though not one of the largest, by any means, cost, with its appurtenances, $100,000. All bills were promptly paid and no debts allowed to accrue and breed interest. The consequence was, that three years after the first plow disturbed its virgin soil, it had paid for itself and added a dividend of $20,000.


In Louisiana they take off one plant and two crops usually before replanting, and so they do in the Islands, as a general thing, though some think the ratoons would run several years longer without disadvantage. The sugar crop in Louisiana is never sure - in the Islands, when favorably situated for irrigation, it never fails. In the former it must be immediately cut upon the first suspicion of a frost, whether it is mature or not - in the latter there is no frost, and the planter may cut it when it suits his convenience; it will stand several months after ripening without deteriorating. Not much of the cane of the species that tassel is cultivated, but even tassel cane can remain in the field four months after maturing without deteriorating.

In Louisiana the cane must always be cut before the frost comes, but in the Islands it may be cut whenever it is ripe - any day in the year. Consequently, the mills can take their time and grind comfortably along in all seasons, whereby the putting on of large extra forces and the employment of mills of immense capacity on small plantations to rush off a threatened crop and grind it is avoided. Louisiana has only five or six weeks to get off her crop in, and so the juice is generally green and the sugar necessarily inferior to that of the Islands.

The fuel chiefly used to make steam is the dry crushed cane which has passed through the mill. It is called "trash." It is mixed with hard wood, and the two combined make a very hot fire.

On the low ground of West Maui plant-cane matures in from eighteen to twenty months, and ratoons ripen in from fifteen to eighteen months. At Ulupalakua, whose lowest cane lands are 2,000 feet, and its highest 3,500 feet, above sea level, plant-cane requires all the way from twenty-two months to three years to ripen, according to elevation. One may see there plant-cane that is just sprouting, cane that is half-grown, cane that is full-grown, and first, second and third ratoons - all on the same plantation. At all seasons of the year there is cane ready for the mill, and labor in no department of sugar cultivation and manufacture need ever stop. A thousand acres are in cane, and from two hundred to three hundred of it are taken off yearly, yielding from eight hundred to one thousand tons of sugar. This plantation being high up in the neighborhood of the clouds, depends upon the frequent rains for irrigation, but 40,000 barrels of water are kept in cisterns for mill purposes, use of stock, etc., to be ready for emergencies. The West Maui plantations are all liberally irrigated from unfailing mountain streams.

In the hot neighborhood of Lahaina cane matures in nine or ten months, and a year is the average for the is lands of Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai.


The sugar works of the Lewers plantation (formerly known as the Waihee plantation) are considered the model in the Islands, in the matter of cost, extent, completeness and efficiency. They make as fine an appearance as any between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and are doubtless as perfect in their appliances. The main building is some 200 feet long and about 40 wide (perhaps more) and proportionally high. Its walls are of stone masonry and very thick. It has a stately chimney that might answer for a shot tower. Being painted snow white, the mill building and the tall chimney stand out in strong contrast with the surrounding bright green cane-fields. A long, elevated flume in front, and a laboring overshot wheel of large diameter; at one side a broad peopled with Coolies spreading "trash" to dry; half a dozen Kanakas feeding cane to the whirling cylinders of the mill and a noisy procession of their countrymen driving cart loads of the material to their vicinity and dumping it - these things give the place a business-like aspect which is novel in the slumbering Sandwich Islands. The neighboring offices of the proprietor, the dwelling of the Superintendent, the store, blacksmith shop, quarters for white employees, native huts and a row of frame quarters for Chinese coolies, make Waihee a village of very respectable pretensions. The employees of the mill and plantation, with their families, number 350 persons, perhaps.

Within the commodious mill building I have described, are four long rows of iron vats (coolers), about twenty-five in a row, occupying almost the whole of the great floor, and with railways between the rows which are traversed by cars which convey the cooked sugar in a liquid state to the vats to be cooled. Each vat is about six feet long, three and a half or four feet wide and about two feet deep, and is able to contain an amount of sweetness equivalent to thirteen young women - in unpoetical figures, 1,400 pounds.

In the center is a small machine called a grinder - an exceedingly useful contrivance, and the only one I have seen in the Islands. When the sugar in the coolers becomes grained and hardened it has many hard lumps in it which it is difficult to reduce in the centrifugals, and this service the grinder performs. It is simply two swiftly-revolving iron cylinders, placed close together, and after the grained sugar has passed between them, lumps before are lumps no longer.

Close to the grinder are six centrifugals - small metallic tubs, whose sides are pierced with a few thousand pin-holes to the square inch. The nasty-looking grained sugar - it is about half black molasses, and looks like an inferior quality of mud - is dumped in, to the amount of a bushel; the tub is set to spinning around at the rate of ten or twelve hundred revolutions a minute - the mud begins to retreat from the center and cling to the sides - and in about three minutes the bottom is as clean as a dinner-plate; the sides are packed with a coating two or three inches thick of beautiful light straw-colored sugar ready for the table, and all the disagreeable molasses has been expressed through the innumerable pin-holes by the frightful velocity of the machine.

At the upper end of the apartment are several 500-gallon steam clarifiers, which receive the raw juice from the mill (which is a large machine on the same principle as the grinder, between whose cylinders the canes are squeezed dry of their juice) and cleanse it of its impurities.

Then it passes through pipes to the "train" - a row of great iron kettles, where it is well boiled and kept in constant motion.

The Weitzel pan receives the cane juice next, and completes the evaporation of the water from it. A revolving wheel paddles it into ceaseless motion here. This pan is heated by steam.

The persecuted juice goes hence to the "vacuum pan" - a very costly contrivance which is little used in the Islands. It is a huge iron globe, capable of containing several hundred gallons. The virtues claimed for it are, that it will boil the juice at half the temperature required by the ordinary open "concentrator," and that consequently the sugar will cool and grain quicker, that the sugar can even be grained in the pan, if necessary, and transferred at once to the centrifugals, instead of lingering in the coolers from four to seven days as is the case in other mills; and lastly, that it will make almost first quality sugar out of first molasses. The vacuum pan boils at a temperature of 140 to 160 degrees - the common open concentrator at 230 to 260. The juice is soon cooked and ready for the coolers, where it remains the best part of a day; then it passes through the grinder and from thence through the centrifugals. The perfected sugar is discharged through chutes into bins in the basement, and the expressed molasses sent back to be wrought into sugar or barreled for market. A cooper shop on the premises prepares the kegs to receive the sugar, and an ingenious affair along side the bins packs the article in them. It is a large auger set in a framework and worked by a screw; its blades resemble those of a propeller, and after being lowered into the empty barrel, it works upward as the sugar is shoveled in, packing it smoothly as it comes. Three Kanakas are required to tend it, and it does the work of six or seven. It packs 400 kegs in a day; a man's full day's work by the customary pounding process with a maul, is 60. This is the only machine for packing I have heard of in the Islands.

I have seen the cane cut in the fields; hauled to the works; squeezed through the mill; transferred to the; thence to the train; thence to the Weitzel pan; thence to the vacuum pan; thence to the coolers - thence to the grinder; thence to the centrifugals; thence, as sugar, to the bins below; thence to the packer; thence to the artist who branded the quality and weight and the plantation's name upon the kegs, and thence to the schooner riding at anchor a mile and a half away - I have frequently seen this whole process gone through with in two days, and yet I do not consider myself competent to make sugar.

Steam is used for half the machinery, and water power for the other half. The proprietor has just completed, at a cost of less than $7,000, a broad and deep ditch, four miles long, which carries an abundant stream of dear water along the base of the rear hills and full length of his plantation. It can be used to irrigate not only the 530 acres now in cane, but will add 210 more that were never susceptible of cultivation before - which addition is equivalent to adding $120,000 to the gross yield of the concern - that much, at any rate; the land produces the ordinary average - three tons to the acre.

I have described the Lewers mill as well as I could, and the same description will answer, in the main, for the Wailuku, Waikapu, Ulupalakua and all the other mills I have visited. No two mills are just alike, and yet no two are sufficiently unlike to render it worth while for a man to describe both.

The plantations I have named are all situated on the island of Maui. Perhaps a few acres of plant cane on either of them have fallen short of three tons this year, or any year, and choice pieces of ground on the Ulupalakua, Waikapu and Wailuku have yielded double that amount per acre. This plant cane averages about equally clear through - say three to three and a half tons per acre except in the case of the Wailuku, which reached an average of four tons this year. One twenty-acre lot on this plantation produced 10,000 pounds of sugar to the acre, and one eleven-acre lot 11,000 pounds per acre. I take the figures from the official account books of the Superintendent. The mill was turning out 200,000 pounds of excellent sugar a month when I was there.


I have said nothing about molasses. They work some of it over and reduce it to sugar, and each planter ships a few thousand dollars worth of it, and (as at Ulupalakua) feeds the third quality to his hogs, if he has any. Formerly inferior molasses was always thrown away, but here, lately, an enlightened spirit of progress has moved the Government to allow the erection of three distilleries I am told, and hereafter it will be made into whisky. [That remark will be shuddered at in some quarters. But I don't care. Ever since I have been a missionary to these islands I have been snubbed and kept down by the other missionaries, and so I will just bring our calling into disrepute occasionally by that sort of dreadful remarks. It makes me feel better.]


A San Francisco refinery company once contracted for all the sugar crop of the Islands for a year, to be taken directly from the coolers by its agent and paid for at the rate of about seven or seven and a half cents a pound, I think it was. This saved the planters a great deal of trouble and some expense, but they lost confidence and broke up the arrangement. It would have been a profitable thing for all parties if it could have been continued, and I think the planters would like to give some responsible man the sole control of the sugar market of the Pacific coast on similar terms.


The principal labor used on the plantations is that of Kanaka men and women - six dollars to eight dollars a month and find them, or eight to ten dollars and let them find themselves. The contract with the laborer is in writing, and the law rigidly compels compliance with it; if the man shirks a day's work and absents himself, he has to work two days for it when his time is out. If he gets unmanageable and disobedient, he is condemned to work on the reef for a season, at twenty-five cents a day. If he is in debt to the planter for such purchases as clothing and provisions, however, when his time expires, the obligation is canceled - the planter has no recourse at law.

The sugar product is rapidly augmenting every year, and day by day the Kanaka race is passing away. Cheap labor had to be procured by some means or other, and so the Government sends to China for Coolies and farms them out to the planters at $5 a month each for five years, the planter to feed them and furnish them with clothing. The Hawaiian agent fell into the hands of Chinese sharpers, who showed him some superb Coolie samples and then loaded his ships with the scurviest lot of pirates that ever went unhung. Some of them were cripples, some were lunatics, some afflicted with incurable diseases and nearly all were intractable, full of fight and animated by the spirit of the very devil. However, the planters managed to tone them down and now they like them very well. Their former trade of cutting throats on the China seas has made them uncommonly handy at cutting cane. They are steady, industrious workers when properly watched. If the Hawaiian agent had been possessed of a reasonable amount of business tact he could have got experienced rice and sugar cultivators - peaceable, obedient men and women - for the same salaries that must be paid to these villains, and done them a real service by giving them good homes and kind treatment in place of the wretchedness and brutality they experience in their native land. Some of the women are being educated as house servants, and I observe that they do not put on airs, and "sass" their masters and mistresses, and give daily notice to quit, and try to boss the whole concern, as the tribe do in California.


You will have Coolie labor in California some day. It is already forcing its superior claims upon the attention of your great mining, manufacturing and public improvement corporations. You will not always go on paying $80 and $100 a month for labor which you can hire for $5. The sooner California adopts Coolie labor the better it will be for her. It cheapens no labor of men's hands save the hardest and most exhausting drudgery - drudgery which neither intelligence nor education are required to fit a man for - drudgery which all white men abhor and are glad to escape from. You may take note of the fact that to adopt Coolie labor could work small hardship to the men who now do the drudgery, for every ship-load of Coolies received there and put to work would so create labor - would permit men to open so many mines they cannot afford to work now, and begin so many improvements they dare not think of at present - that all the best class of the working population who might be emancipated from the pick and shovel by that ship-load would find easier and more profitable employment in superintending and overseeing the Coolies. It would be mote profitable, as you will readily admit, to the great mining companies of California and Nevada to pay 300 Chinamen an aggregate of $1,500 a month - or five times the amount, if you think it mote just - than to pay 300 white men $30, 000 a month. Especially when the white men would desert in a body every time a new mining region was discovered, but the Chinamen would have to stay until their contracts were worked out.

People are always hatching fine schemes for inducing Eastern capital to the Pacific coast. Yonder in China are the capitalists you want - and under your own soil is a bank that will not dishonor their checks. The mine purchased for a song by Eastern capital would pour its stream of wealth past your door and empty it in New York. You would be little the richer for that. There are hundreds of men in California who are sitting on their quartz leads, watching them year after year, and hoping for the day when they will pay - and growing gray all the time - hoping for a cheapening of labor that will enable them to work the mine or warrant another man in buying it - who would soon be capitalists if Coolie labor were adopted.

The Mission Woolen Mill Company take California wool and weave from it fabrics of all descriptions, which they challenge all America to surpass, and sell at prices which defy all foreign competition. The secret is in their cheap Chinese labor. With white labor substituted the mills would have to stop.

The Pacific Railroad Company employ a few thousand Chinamen at about $30 a month, and have white men to oversee them. They pronounce it the cheapest, the best, and most quiet, peaceable and faithful labor they have tried.

Some of the heaviest mining corporations in the State have it in contemplation to employ Chinese labor. Give this labor to California for a few years and she would have fifty mines opened where she has one now - a dozen factories in operation where there is one now - a thousand tons of farm produce raised where there are a hundred now - leagues of railroad where she has miles to-day, and a population commensurate with her high and advancing prosperity.

With the Pacific Railroad creeping slowly but surely toward her over mountain and desert and preparing to link her with the East, and with the China mail steamers about to throw open to her the vast trade of our opulent coast line stretching from the Amoor river to the equator, what State in the Union has so splendid a future before her as California? Not one, perhaps. She should awake and be ready to join her home prosperity to these tides of commerce that are so soon to sweep toward her from the east and the west.

To America it has been vouchsafed to materialize the vision, and realize the dream of centuries, of the enthusiasts of the old world. We have found the true Northwest Passage - we have found the true and only direct route to the bursting coffers of "Ormus and of Ind" - to the enchanted land whose mere drippings, in the ages that are gone, enriched and aggrandized ancient Venice, first, then Portugal, Holland, and in our own time, England - and each in succession they longed and sought for the fountain head of this vast Oriental wealth, and sought in vain. The path was hidden to them, but we have found it over the waves of the Pacific, and American enterprise will penetrate to the heart and center of its hoarded treasures, its imperial affluence. The gateway of this path is the Golden Gate of San Francisco; its depot, its distributing house, is California - her customers are the nations of the earth; her transportation wagons will be the freight cars of the Pacific Railroad, and they will take up these Indian treasures at San Francisco and flash them across the continent and the vessels of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company will deliver them in Europe fifteen days sooner than Europe could convey them thither by any route of her own she could devise.

California has got the world where it must pay tribute to her. She is about to be appointed to preside over almost the exclusive trade of 450,000,000 people - the almost exclusive trade of the most opulent land on earth. It is the land where the fabled Aladdin's lamp lies buried - and she is the new Aladdin who shall seize it from its obscurity and summon the geni and command him to crown her with power and greatness, and bring to her feet the hoarded treasures of the earth!

I may have wandered away from my original subject a little, but it is no matter - I keep thinking about the new subject, and I must have wandered into it eventually anyhow.


Return to Sacramento Daily Union index


Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search