Please excuse the grammar; it is a direct reproduction of the original.
Pacific Commercial Advertiser – 1884
The steamship SS Bordeaux, left Madeira on July 22, 1884, and after the ship set sailing away from Madeira, it was found there were 20 stowaways aboard. During the trip to the Islands, there were 12 births and 72 deaths; 69 were children under the age of 10 years old. Two of the adults died of consumption, the third adult was handicapped at 19 years of age and died the day after arrival in Honolulu at 5 o’clock PM, after suffering from consumption for nearly 3 years. This steamer has a greater carrying capacity than the SS City of Paris, but she brought a fewer number of immigrants. The mortality, it is claimed, was due more to the introduction of measles at the port of Madeira than from any other cause, although the change in climate might have caused some of the difficulties. The trip of the vessel was made as follows:
She entered the Straits of Magellan, passing Cape Virgene, August 19, and cleared Cape Aeiler and she entered the Pacific Ocean on August 22, 1884. The ship’s baking apparatus having been broken down, she went to Coronal, Chile, for biscuits on September 17, then sailed again on September 19, and arrived in Honolulu on October 2, 1884, making a trip of 72 days from Madeira, anchored at Wilder’s Wharf at 9 o’clock AM.
Dr. Parker of the Board of Health and Dr. Henri McGrew, the port physician, visited the vessel, and after an examination, found no evidence of contagion. They learned that the greater part of the mortality was noted when the vessel was crossing Cape Horn, mainly attributed to the cold atmospheric effect on those who had measles. Through the efforts of a new port captain at Madeira, the Bordeaux was allowed to bring only a portion of the immigrants who were prepared to sail to Honolulu. About 400 Portuguese were left behind. It is expected that another vessel will be sent from London to bring the the remainder of them here. The circumstances were caused by a change of interpretation of the regulations for emigrants, which say the the vessel may carry two persons (adults) for every 5 tons of register. In this case, the authorities have decided that it means 2 persons for each 5 tons of space appropriated to passengers. Should the Japanese immigration of laborers prove a success, and plenty laborers, of a satisfactory quality be introduced under it, there will be a cry to stop the spending of money on the introduction of Portuguese. This will be a grave mistake although we have to confess that it will be a natural one because it is true, that to the planter who only looks to laborers so favorably known. But, should the Portuguese be discontinued? The first cost is high, and the wages of the men are high, but taking the average cost of labor performed by the men, women, and children, they may be cheaper than any other class now here.
From the steamship “City of Paris”, it was a good fortune to get 14 families. The average wage of the 14 men are 68 cents per head per day; to this must be added, say 15 cents per day for the first cost of interest on the same, etc. that made the cost for the men 83 cents per day. Too costly, no doubt, but beside the men, we have an average of 20 women, girls, and boys doing good work, at an average daily wage of 31 and a half cents. That gives a total of 34 workers at an average cost of 52.7 cents per day.
Chinese laborers are getting 65 cents per day where I write from, and on some plantations they are getting out of the light hoeing much more (and on a well kept Plantation, there should be no heavy hoeing) there, women and children will do much of the work in a day as a Chinaman, and at stripping cane, many people believe they, the women and children, do better and more!
Again, with the 14 men, there are 20 women and children working, some 25 other children too young to work, but who will eventually, as they grow up, become the most valuable of the plantation hands. Furthermore, every Portuguese family consumes about 3 bags of flour per month, besides a variety of other California produce, and help to make up the balance of the trade with the United States, and thus strengthen the treaty.
My thoughts over this article brings me to the present day. Even as much as we’ve progressed over the ensuing years, we still have people coming to the West (and specifically to the United States) for better opportunities for themselves and their children… fully aware that it only offers work for pennies a day and not much chance of success … but those with the will to succeed often do, and that is exactly the opportunity they desire when they leave their home countries to come to America. Imagine that … (wink)
They were at sea for 72 days and witnessed 72 deaths onboard the ship… how dedicated must they have been to get on a ship where someone died every day of the voyage. They didn’t know that when they boarded, but the possibility of death is always there and understood ahead of time – in addition to other calamities (pirates and sinking by the weather) that might ruin their entire plan.
I thank every ancestor of mine for having the courage and fortitude to make the journey on my behalf … and never seriously consider going back regardless of how difficult it must have been through those days and beyond.
God bless America…