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Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo
(1887)

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo,   pp. [1]-42 ff.


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JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
If the railway is once constructed on the south bank, it will require
constant expenditure to keep it in repair. The soil is not firm, and in
the rainy season there are frequent washouts. I passed many places on
the side hills where the earth had literally "1caved in", and for the reason
that the soil could not stand the heavy rains.
The question of labor will have to be solved; the whites will not be
able to do the work, and the natives cannot be depended on. The neces-
sary and constant exposure to the sun and weather would be fatal to
white men. The region to be traversed by the proposed railway is the
most unhealthy of the entire Congo Valley, and in order to successfully
complete the work there it will be necessary to import the Chinese, or
India coolie; either of these people will stand the climate, and be able
to carry on the work.
The Congo Railway Company has already been formed and is com-
posed mainly of English capitalists. The work 6f constructing the
railway to Isanghila is to be started at once.
From ari article by Mr. Stanley, in the London Times, on the Congo
Railway, and also in an interview I had with him in London, I learned
that the Congo State guarantees "1 that the sum of $50,000 will be the
minimum annual sum which it will expend on the State traffic for the
period of ten years after the completion of the railway to Stanley Pool."
It also guarantees to the company "140 per cent. of the gross customs rev-
enue from export duties until the railway will be able to show 6 per
cent. dividend on the capital subscribed." The lands needed for the
railway, ports, landing places, yards, &c., besides a munificent acreage
for every mile of railway constructed, will be given free of payment or
tax. The best influence of the State and assistance of its officers and
men is also guaranteed. Should the syndicate fail to construct the rail-
way to Stanley Pool, and only establish a line of communication as far
as Manyanga, the various guarantees are, in proportion, as favorable.
Mr. Stanley, after consulting with contractors, estimates the cost ot
construction at $4,000 per mile, and the entire cost of establishing
communication between Stanley Pool and the sea, by means of two sec-
tions of railway (160 miles), and the steamer connections, at $2,500,000.
In case they are successful in opening communication bysteam with
Stanley Pool, the railway company will put a fleet of steamers on the
Upper River, and with their goods and merchandise command the cus-
tom of the Arabs from the Falls to Lake Tanganyika, as well as the
custom of the natives on the large affluents of the Congo.
The estimates show that about $260,000 is paid out annually for the
native porterage of goods, merchandise, &c., from the Lower Congo to
Stanley Pool; and, as Mr. Stanley says, 1The State now guarantees,
out of this $260,000, an annual expenditure of $50,000, which will be
substantially increased by the money expended by the French, the
traders, and the different missions."
PROSPECTS FOR AMERICANS.
To the best of my belief, there is no opening on, or in the vicinity of,
the Lower Congo for an American firm to establish, at present, with a
reasonable prospect of success.
What a firm with capital and push will be able to do when the rail.
way is started, particularly if its factories were extended to the Upper
Congo, is another question.
At present the trading firms on the west coast of Africa are wealthy,
and have been established for years. They now have the monopoly of
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