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Treatment of Emigrants

New York Tribune, June 17, 1854, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Treatment of Emigrants from Liverpool

Liverpool, England. 1836.

Liverpool, England. c. 1836.

A Liverpool correspondent of the American, and Foreign Emigrant Society of this City gives the following account of the condition and treatment of emigrants in that port:

Of all the crowds who throng our port seeking a passage across the Atlantic, none are so destitute and helpless, or are so cruelly treated, as those who.orge with passage certificates in their hands, purchased and sent them by their friends in America.

The majority are females and children, following their husbands, parents or other relatives to the land of promise. They arrive with a few shillings in their pockets sometimes, perhaps, money to pay traveling expenses from the American sea-port to their new homes in the interior of the country. This, if known, is filched from the merciless harpies with whom they have to do. As there is no commission to be got for booking these passengers, all that the runners can get by them is by inducing them to lay out the few shillings they have at shops to which they take them, where everything is sold at on extravagant rate, the runners sharing the overcharge. From fifteen to twenty per cent, is usually paid by even first-class dealers on sales thus effected.

Yorkshire Packet Ship to America.

The keepers of lodging houses next come in for their share of the pitiful spoils. A set of perfectly devetized men, who drag the poor creatures into small collars, filthy, damp, dark dens, where they are detained sometimes a week or ten days, if it does not suit the purpose of these wretches to get them on board ship sooner. Thence they are hurried on board, fleeced of eyery penny, without the means often of buying a bundle of fresh straw for their beds. Can we wonder that disease and death should seize them on the passage? That more do not die would appear a miracle.

It can only be explained by reference to the remarkable stamina and power of endurance which these poor people possess. Such is the lot of thousands of emigrants as I can testify from personal knowledge, and as every one will testify who has the same opportunity of observation. I have spoken of the frequent detention of these prepaid passengers. This, perhaps, requires explanation, and is a further illustration of the wrongs which these poor people suffer. The ship-passenger brokers are accustomed to charter the whole of the between decks, the berths of the prepaid passengers excepted.

If emigrants in port are numerous, enabling the brokers to put up the price of passage, and fill the ship with pay-passengers, the prepaid passengers who.orge with certifcates in their hands are kept back, the berths in the ship to which they are entitled by prepayment being given to others who pay the broker's prices.

British Emigrant Ship Leaving for Australia. 1844.

Emigrant Ship leaving Great Britain. 1844.

It is true that the law requires that one shilling per day "detention money" shall be paid to each passenger so detained, but the claimants are often defrauded of this by being hurried on board ship with the assurance that the captain will pay them after they got to sea. Of course, the captain when applied to, knows nothing about it. Complaint may be made to the owner or consignee, when the ship reaches port, but the reply is, we know nothing about it, but we will write to our agent.

The remedy that I have heard proposed, and that strikes me as feasible, and which I hope your Society will assist to carry out, is for the shipowners to erect a suitable lodging house, where persons waiting embarkation may have.orgfortable and economical accommodations.

In connection with it, a shop where shipstores may be sold at a reasonable rate. It is thought that an addition of one dollar for prepaid passage tickets would defray the expense of the erection and maintenance of this lodging-house.

At any rate, let something be done; as it is, humanity is disgraced.

Engraving: Emigrants boarding their ship in driving rain.
British Port. 1870

In connection with it, a shop where shipstores may be sold at a reasonable rate. It is thought that an addition of one dollar for prepaid passage tickets would defray the expense of the erection and maintenance of this lodging-house.

At any rate, let something be done; as it is, humanity is disgraced.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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