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the plants supposed to be characterized by medicinal properties, many of which are familiar to the medical profession and are in constant and increasing demand wherever that profession has a footing. No cultivation, gathering or export of anything in this line for commercial purposes appears ever to have been undertaken in connection with that country.
This last made observation holds good also in effect as to
(1) Starch-yielding articles, like manioc, arrowroot, and others which abound everywhere and of which two full crops could be grown every year.
(2) Comfits, preserves, sweetmeats of many and various kinds— dates, figs, tamarinds, guavas-and jellies of numerous varieties, all of which find an unceasing and ready demand and sale in the northern markets of Europe and America, and for the preparation of which Haiti offers remarkably full and easy facilities.
(3) Perfumes extracted from flower, fruit, or plant, in fact, all ottars of vegetable origin, for which there is an extensive and open market wherever even the most moderate forms of civilization prevail, and of which it can be said that there are scarcely any sold in the world that could not be produced in Haiti, laden all over as it is with the innumerable flowers, and the ottar-yielding fruits and plants of the tropics.
(4) Fiber yielding plants and material, of which there is an unending supply and variety. President Salomon, foreseeing the unwisdom of Haiti continuing indefinitely to depend on her present line of exports, and casting about for the possible introduction of a new staple, hit upon the remarkable fibrous plant ramie, which is perennial and can be raised with very little care and of which four crops, yielding about 1,500 pounds to the acre, can be raised yearly. President Salomon made strenuous efforts to stimulate and establish its culture. He had duly noted the offers made by the Indian Government of $25,000 in 1869 and again in 1877 for the production of machinery and processes by which the ramie fiber
could be economically prepared for the market. He had likewise noted the announcement of Lafranc's invention of machinery for decorticating the plant and of a chemical process for fully preparing the fiber for the market. The President's effort therefore seemed to promise success, but none of the industries proved entirely satisfactory for the end in view and the culture of ramie in Haiti was for the time abandoned. Very probably, however, the processes for economically and suitably preparing the products of a plant which yields such remarkable fiber will in time be successfully put in operation, and Haiti will then open a large and profitable field for its cultivation.
Cotton was in the colonial times made an important element of commerce. The official returns show that the export of that article for the year 1791 was 6,789,016 English pounds, of which the value at that time was about $3,514,450. Since that period, there has been no serious attempt, excepting for a few years during the American civil war, when the prices went up abnormally, to enter largely and vigorously on the raising of that great staple. Only comparatively small quantities are grown and exported yearly. There can be no question as to the possibilities of success in the cultivation of cotton on a large scale in Haiti.
there with extraordinary facility, requiring no culture whatever. It is a fine silky quality. It does not grow on bushes, but on trees, which produce two crops annually and last several years. Its culture might be made exceedingly profitable, as no country in the world is better adapted to its growth.*
Here, then, is another partially occupied field open for profitable enterprise.
Nearly every published work on Haiti speaks of "its immense mineral wealth," and it is a historical fact that its possession of valuable ores first hastened its occupation by stimulating European cupidity. This, however, was confined chiefly to the eastern part of the island. The undoubted existence of some of these ores, how
*Redpath, p. 43.
ever, dispels the quite common impression that the island itself is of volcanic origin and leaves room for the general inference that the oft-repeated declaration as to its great mineral wealth may be
Prof. Gabb made an extensive geological survey of Santo Domingo in 1870-1872, and his valuable papers on the subject may be found in the transactions of the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia), xv, 29. He did not, however, extend his investigations over the western part of the island, and it is thought that no extended survey of that character has ever been made there.
Nevertheless, it is well established that gold, platinum, silver, copper, iron, tin, manganese, antimony, sulphur, rock salt, bitumen, the earth phosphates, etc., exist, some of them probably in quantities which would make the production of them remunerative.
The district of Azua, which is, however, a little to the east of the southern Haitian border, contains what has been not inappropriately designated "a mountain of rock salt." In 1886, there was put on foot an American company, of which the governor of New Hampshire was an active member, for the working of this vast and valuable deposit, but the movement was suspended.
It is believed that the communes of St. Michel, Dondou, Limonade, and Plaisance in the north, and of Mirebalais, Lascahobas, and Banica to the north and west of Port au Prince and the neighborhood of Jacmel, are mineral districts. In the vicinity of Aux Cayes and of the Artibonite and in other localities, it is asserted (Encyclopædia Britannica), are mines of lignite, but on authority, not cited, it is said that the veins of this mineral are nowhere more than four feet thick. There is no doubt of the existence of earth phosphates near the coasts in quantities which would well repay commercial enterprise. The exact locations of these valuable deposits are well known to the authorities. Quartz veins in the slate formations are auriferous, and so are the sands in the streams. It is to be noted that when the mountains and streams of Santo
Domingo were ransacked for gold, the world had not at its command the appliances and knowledge now considered essential to successful mining in any department. In the absence, therefore, of any extended and reliable geological survey of Haiti, and in view also of the fact that modern knowledge and skill in mining have never been put into requisition on the island, it may be safely asserted that the possible results of that industry are still an open question.
Certain it is that mining interests have hitherto been wholly neglected in Haiti, and it is believed that there are no laws on the subject in that country. For some reason, her resources in this respect are kept in the background and seldom referred to. It appears to have been the Government policy not to encourage enterprises that might tend to prostrate or impair the agricultural spirit and industry of the people, which are and hitherto have always been regarded as the basis, the main stay, of the national support.
From the date of Haitian independence (1804) up to 1827, the only circulating medium was specie, of which the volume was from time to time augmented somewhat by the coinage in the country of silver and the baser metals under the administrations of Pétion and Boyer. The value of the pieces (12% cents, 25 cents, and 1 dollar, silver, and 1, 2, and 6 cents, copper) thus struck off was only about one-third that of the corresponding pieces of American and Spanish coin, and this circumstance led to enormous frauds at the expense of the Republic.
In 1827, the drain made upon the circulating medium for the purpose of meeting payment on the French debt was so great that Boyer caused to be issued the first Haitian paper currency. It consisted of notes on the national treasury, given out without promise of ultimate redemption in specie, without bearing interest, and it had a forced circulation on a parity with the silver coinage; and was made a legal tender in all business transactions throughout the Republic, which then covered the whole island. It was in the form of one, two, and ten gourdes (dollars), but counterfeiting of the latter became so common that they were speedily withdrawn from circulation, and there was a steady depreciation in the values of the others until the revolution of 1843, when they were found to have lost 33 per cent of their original value, so that it took four gourdes to make one Spanish or American dollar.