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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.


Page 36

JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
the trade. These firms have bought up all the available ground be.
tween Banana and Vivi on the south bank of the river, and, until a rail.
way is constructed, the sites on the south bank are the most desirable
for factories. Of course these sites are held at fabulous prices, if they
can be bought at all. At Banana, the State was obliged to pay a fabu.
lops price for enough land to build its station on.
If the railway is constructed no further than Isaughila it will mate.
rially change the trade prospects, and there will be openings for the
investment of money, and as the the trade increases, as it must do, new.
comers will have a fair chance in competition with the old firms; but it
must be remembered that no immediate return can be looked for, as it
will take time to establish factories, and to learn the ins and outs of the
trade, in all of which the present firms will have the advantage. Being
on the spot when the railway is started, they will be able to select de.
sirable sites for factories, &c. Their employ6s are acclimated and fa-
miliar with the methods of trading.
The goods and merchandise of all descriptions used in trade, as well
as the canned provisions used on the Congo, are purchased in Europe.
A great deal of the canned fruit, milk, and beef, I noticed, had been
canned in America, sold to the European dealers, and resold to the
Congo State, and to the traders. The demand for everything required
in new settlements is becoming greater every day, more especially for
cotton goods, canned food, cutlery, furniture, and lumber. Lumber in
particular will, I am sure, find a ready market. Wooden houses are
springing up on all sides, the lumber for which is imported from Europe;
for, notwithstanding the fact that there is plenty of timber on the
Lower Congo, there is no machinery for working the wood into shape; and
if the houses could be shipped to the Congo ready to be put together, it
would be a great gain, as skilled mechanics are few and far between.
Inquiries regarding the possibility of competing with the'European
dealers must be made to the heads of the different trading houses in
Europe. The traders on the Congo cannot, or will not enter into any
contract, as they are mere representatives of the European heads, and
receive from them all the supplies for trade and food. I learned from
the committee at Brussels that they would willingly purchase from
American dealers if they could deliver the stores at the Congo equally
as good as those now received, and on more favorable terms. I inclose
with this report samples of most of the goods, &c., used from Banana
to Stanley Falls, with the prices paid European dealers.
FOREIGN POWERS.
The French and Portuguese are the only powers holding territory in
the Congo Valley, other than the Congo State. The boundaries of the
possessions were definitely settled by the Berlin Conference, and a com-
mission representing the three powers. is at present engaged in estab-
lishing the boundary lines.
The Portuguese possessions are on the south bank of the Congo and
extend from Shark's Point, at the mouth of the river, to Noki, in about
60 10' south latitude. The remainder of the south bank, to the source of
the river, is the territory of the Congo State.
The French territory is on the north bank, and includes the territory
along the river from Manyanga North, in 50 south latitude, to the mouth
of the Oubangi River in 00 20' south latitude. The northern limit of
the French possessions is now a matter of dispute, they claiming both
banks of the mouth of the Oubangi River to about 10 north latitude.
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