« AnteriorContinuar »
THE RESERVOIR WHICH SUPPLIES THE TOWN OF COLON.
(Capacity, 508,000,000 gallons. Dimensions, 11⁄2 miles long by 1⁄2 mile wide. The picture shows about onethird of the reservoir.)
to be solved, and upon its solution the success of the rest of the work depended.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF SANITATION.
He compliments Dr. W. C. Gorgas on
the President, the men who are digging the Panama Canal are all "entitled to the same credit that is given to the picked men of a victorious army; for this conquest of peace will, in its great and far-reaching effect, stand as among the very greatest conquests, his success in this matter, particularly in. whether of peace or of war, which have ever been won by any of the peoples of mankind." Very naturally, the President takes up first the question of sanitation on the Isthmus, since this was the first great problem
the two cities of Panama and Colon, and becomes enthusiastic over the results in cleaning up the unsanitary spots all along the canal route. The Isthmus had been the byword for deadly unhealthfulness.
after two years of our occupation, the conditions as regards sickness and the death rate compare favorably with reasonably healthy locations in the United States." The hospital service, he declares, is excellent, and "from no responsible source did any complaint come to me as to the management."
among the employees of the Isthmus. There were then on the rolls 5500 whites, seven-eighths of them being Americans. Of these whites but two died of disease, and as it happened neither man was an American. Of the 6000 white Americans, including some 1200 women and children, not a single death has occurred in the past three months, whereas in an average city in
the United States the number of deaths for a similar number of people in that time would have been about 30 from disease. This very remarkable showing cannot, of course, permanently obtain, but it certainly goes to prove that if good care is taken the Isthmus is not a particularly unhealthy place. In October, of the 19,000 negroes on the roll 86 died from disease, pneumonia being the most destructive disease, and malarial fever coming second. The difficulty of exercising a thorough supervision over the colored laborers is, of course, greater than is the case among the whites, and they are also less competent to take care of themselves, which accounts for the fact that their death rate is so much higher than that of the whites, in spite of the fact that they have been used to similar climatic conditions. Even among the colored employees it will be seen that the death rate is not high.
Surgeon-General Rixey reported to the President that the hygienic conditions on the entire Isthmus were about as good as those in the Norfolk Navy Yard. To quote the words of the message:
There has been for the last six months a well
nigh steady decline in the death rate for the population of the Zone, this being largely due to the decrease in deaths from pneumonia, which has been the most fatal disease on the Isthmus. In October there were 99 deaths of every kind
Especially effective, the President asserts, has been the sanitation of Panama and Colon, and the destruction of mosquito-breeding places, thus doing away with the chief cause of malaria. "All men to whom I spoke
were a unit in saying that the conditions of the Colon streets were 100 per cent. better than a year ago." As to all complaints of inefficiency or defective work, the President says: "Where the complaints were not made wantonly or maliciously they almost always proved due to failure to appreciate the fact that time was necessary in the creation and completion of this Titanic work in a tropic wilderness." Among things the President saw which he regarded as wrong or of improper tendency were: too many saloons, and, in some few cases, the charging of excessive rates for supplies.
HOW THE WORKERS
ARE CARED FOR.
As to the character and care of the employees on the canal, the President is very explicit and emphatically commendatory. At present there are some 6000 white employees and some 19,000 colored employees on the Isthmus.
Nearly 5000 of the white employees had come
United States, regards himself.
from the United States. No man can see these young, vigorous men energetically doing their duty without a thrill of pride in them as Americans. They represent on the average a high class. Doubtless to Congress the wages paid them will seem high, but as a matter of fact the only general complaint which I found had any real basis among the complaints made to me upon the Isthmus was that, owing to the peculiar surroundings, the cost of living, and the distance from home, the wages were really not as high as they should be. In fact, almost every man that I spoke to felt that he ought to be receiving more money,a view, however, which the average man who stays at home in the probably likewise holds
ployees, the President says: Speaking of the life of the white em
The married men ate at home. The unmarried men sometimes ate at private boardinging by the answers of those whom I questioned, houses, or private messes, but more often, judgat the government canteens or hotels, where the meal costs 30 cents to each employee. This 30
one the employees were allowed to dine without their coats, while in the other they had to put them on. The 30-cent meal included soup, native beef (which was good), mashed potatoes, peas, beets, chile con carne, plum pudding, tea, coffee,-each man having as much of each as he desired. On the table there was a bottle of liquid quinine tonic, which two-thirds of the guests, as I was informed, used every day. There were neat table-cloths and napkins. The men who were taking the meal at or about the same time included railroad men, machinists, shipwrights, and members of the office force. The rooms were clean, comfortable, and airy, with mosquito screens around the outer piazza. I was informed by some of those present that this hotel, and also the other similar hotels, were every Saturday night turned into clubhouses where the American officials, the school-teachers, and various employees appeared, bringing_their
cent meal struck me as being as good a meal as we get in the United States at the ordinary hotel in which a 50-cent meal is provided. Threefourths of the men whom I questioned stated that the meals furnished at these government hotels were good, the remaining one-fourth that they were not good. I myself took dinner at the La Boca government hotel, no warning whatever having been given of my coming. There were two rooms, as generally in these hotels. In
was a piano in the room, which I was informed was used for the music on these occasions. My meal was excellent, and two newspaper correspondents who had been on the Isthmus several days informed me that it was precisely like the meals they had been getting elsewhere at other government hotels. One of the employees was a cousin of one of the Secret-Service men who was with me, and he stated that the meals had always been good, but that after a time he grew tired of them because they seemed so much alike.
FOREIGN LABOR EMPLOYED.
As to Chinese and other foreign labor, the President declares that Spaniards and Italians do excellent work, while that of the West Indian laborers is only fairly satisfactory. To particularize:
thrown obstacles in the way of our getting the labor needed; and it is highly undesirable to give any outsiders the impression, however ill founded, that they are indispensable and can dictate terms to us.
A steady effort is being made to secure Italians, and especially to procure more Spaniards, because of the very satisfactory results that have come from their employment, and their numbers will be increased as far as possible. It has not proved possible, however, to get them in anything like the numbers needed for the work, and from present appearances we shall in the main have to rely, for the ordinary unskilled work, partly upon colored laborers from the West unfriendly disposition to our work, and has Indies, partly upon Chinese labor. It certainly ought to be unnecessary to point out that the American workingman in the United States has no concern whatever in the question as to whether the rough work on the Isthmus, which is performed by aliens in any event, is done by aliens from one country with a black skin or by aliens from another country with a yellow skin. Our business is to dig the canal as efficiently and as quickly as possible; provided always that nothing is done that is inhumane to any laborers, and nothing that interferes with the wages of or lowers the standard of living of our own workmen. Having in view this principle, I have arranged to try several thousand Chinese laborers. This is desirable both because we must try to find out what laborers are most efficient, and, furthermore, because we should not leave ourselves at the mercy of any one type of foreign labor. At present the great bulk of the unskilled labor. on the Isthmus is done by West India negroes, chiefly from Jamaica, Barbados, and the other English possessions. One of the governors of the lands in question has shown an