Immigrants and the Steamship Steerage Rate Wars - 1904

Mid Voyage Scenes in Steerage.

Mid Voyage Scenes in Steerage. Mora; Syrian Jews; Prostrated by the Swell; Children Escaping Seasickness. Broughton Brandenburg, Imported Americans 1904. GGA Image ID # 146068995f

Further cuts in steerage rates went into effect on Monday.  Immigrants can now obtain passage from several English and Scottish ports to New York for $10, where formerly they paid $25.  This is the latest move in a rate war between rival steamship companies.

In consequence, however, much fear is expressed that the result may be to induce a large influx of highly undesirable aliens.  The slums of Whitechapel, it is said, are prepared to discharge upon us a loathsome mass of poverty, filth, and disease, which, under the comparatively lax immigration laws of Great Britain, has for years poured in from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the Balkan States.  According to Frank P. Sargent, Commissioner-General of Immigration, this noxious invasion has already begun.

We are inclined to think that the situation, actual and prospective, is greatly exaggerated.  The immigration laws provide an adequate protection against dreaded inundation.  Only a year ago these laws were re-enacted, added to, and in numerous ways made adaptable to present condition.

Under the new statute, practically all the objectionable aliens said to be tempted by reduced steerage rates may be excluded, and the responsibilities of the steamship companies increased.  It groups objectionable immigrants under three heads -- the physically and mentally deficient, the hopelessly poor, and the morally depraved.

It thus excludes all idiots, epileptics, and insane persons; all persons who have been insane for five years or who have had two attacks of insanity at any time.  It is likewise prohibits the landing of all aliens suffering from loathsome or contagious diseases.

Under the second head come professional beggars, absolute paupers, and all who are likely to become public charges.  Polygamists, anarchists -- of philosophical or bomb-throwing variety -- prostitutes, procurers, and persons who have been convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude," are in the third class.

In addition, there is the contract laborer, with the much-enduring Chinaman.  The law of 1903 also requires increased vigilance by steamship companies.  They are forbidden to advertise, except in the most perfunctory way; and are made subject to a fine of $1,000 for every illegal immigrant they attempt to land.

They are required to make out complete manifests of all passengers, and answer a multitude of questions concerning their physical, mental and financial status.  They must themselves deport all rejected immigrants, paying the expense of their maintenance while here.  And the period during which they may be called upon to return landed immigrants who become paupers is increased from one to two years.

Though the new law has been in force little more than a year, it is said to be working well.  In August last, the Government sent Mr. Marcus Braun to southeastern Europe to investigate its workings.  His official report contains much that is pertinent to the present situation.

He found that the steamship companies, especially those engaged in the present rate war, were doing everything in their power to improve the quality of immigrants.  They had curbed the enthusiasm of their agents, in some cases refusing commissions to those who improperly solicited business; and had taken every precaution to fortify themselves against diseased passengers.

In the main, Mr. Braun commends the English and German steamship lines for their rigid medical inspections.  He also reports the cooperation of foreign Governments, especially Austria-Hungary and Italy.  The mails are closed to alluring literature describing the American Eldorado. 

Mr. Braun says that letters of this kind are confiscated by hundreds of thousands, so that the old abuse is practically ended.  He found nothing to substantiate the popular notion that the Italian Government encouraged the emigration of undesirable subjects.  On the contrary, it does everything to keep this very element away from America.

The Government, declares Mr. Braun, is in constant fear that the United States may pass laws against Italian immigration, which would be a serious thing for Italy, as whole towns in the southern part are supported mainly by remittances from America.

The Italian authorities, Mr. Braun found, had imprisoned several of the most notorious steamship "runners."  All over Europe it is generally understood that it is no easy thing to get into the United states.  Thus, thousands of Russian Jews are sent to London, where they spend a probationary period of about six months, in the hop of putting themselves in sufficiently fit physical condition to gain admittance.

For the same reason, thousands of the prescribed classes land at Canadian and Mexican ports, with the hope of eventually slipping in over the border -- unquestionably a real danger.  The only immigration law generally despised and evaded is that against contract labor.

Thus there would seem to be no impending peril from present steamship rivalry.  Like all wars, it is expensive.  According to general belief, the companies lose money by every immigrant; and it is not likely that they will care to increase the expense by numerous $1,000 fines.

If they go to reckless extremes, our remedy is to enforce the laws.  Such aspiring citizens as are undesirable we can keep out; such as are desirable, we are, of course, only too glad to let in.  According to the latest immigration reports, a growing percentage of immigrants is excluded under the act of 1903.

Last year we sent back 8,769 at the steamship companies' expense, against 4,974 in the previous year.  The larger number of the diseased were Japanese, who of course, are not affected by the new steamship rates.

Evidently, however, our local officials have learned how to apply the new law; and it is to presumed they will not hesitate , in the next few weeks, to make such use of it as occasion requires.

The Steamship Rate War and Immigration - 25 June 1904

While a great number of undesirable immigrants have taken, and are expected to take, advantage of the wholesale cut in the steerage rates of the Atlantic steamship companies, many papers think this sudden rush of aliens will not last long, and should occasion no special anxiety on the part of the Immigration Bureau.

This cut in rates is caused by a rate war now raging among the transportation companies, and, as a result, steerage rates to New York have been reduced in some cases from $20 and $30 to $8.45.

Commissioner Sargent is quoted as saying that this cut in rates is already "undoubtedly increasing undesirable immigration," and that many of those "induced to come over by the low rates will have to be deported by the steamship companies."

His words seem to be borne out by the arrivals in New York, last week, on steamships offering the cut rates. Out of 1,134 steerage passengers on the Kroonland, 567, or exactly half, were detained at Ellis Island for investigation, and out of 726 steerage passengers on the Philadelphia, 133 were detained. Of the 2,100 steerage passengers that arrived on three other steamships about 30 per cent. were detained.

Two cases serve to show one class of immigrants attracted by the cheap rate : On the Anchoria there arrived a woman and her three children, having in all $2 and the clothes they wore, and expecting to get to some place in Assiniboia.

The other was the case of a couple and their seven children. Not one of the children was over thirteen years old, and the family had less than twenty-five cents in money.

 The steamship companies will have to return these paupers to the point at which it received them. The immigration authorities expect a great rush of immigrants, and a serious problem confronts the officials as to the distribution of the new arrivals, as Ellis Island accommodates only about 2.200.

The low rates are not expected to last very long, for, as the New York World remarks, "every passenger carried at the present rates means a dead loss," and "rates may be expected to go back to their old figures before the year's volume of immigration can be greatly affected." This comment from the Philadelphia Inquirer gives the situation as it is presented in many papers:

"One important result of the war on steerage rates between the steamship lines is that we are to have a tremendous influx of undesirable immigrants. This country is big enough and undeveloped enough to care for many times its present population, but we have enough of the scum of Europe here now.

They crowd into our cities and live as best they can, working for wages which are far below what any American can live on. They recruit the criminal classes, flock to the almshouses, and are a burden on the community.

When the fare was $21, we got enough of these; but now that it costs less than half that sum the number is rapidly increasing, showing that ten dollars is an immense sum to them.

Those who arrive now do not have on the average more than three dollars in their pockets, which simply argues that many of them will have to be supported."

Some think there is no occasion for anxiety. The New York Evening Post declares that the situation, actual and prospective, is greatly exaggerated, and that under the new law "practically all the objectionable aliens said to be tempted by the reduced steerage rates may be excluded, and the responsibilities of the steamship companies increased."

The Philadelphia Record observes that "such is the rigorous inspection of immigrants, especially at Ellis Island, that the steamship companies would soon be bankrupt if they were to load their ships with all comers at existing rates." The Boston Herald doubts whether the reduction of fare will greatly stimulate emigration to this country. It says:

"We think that from now onward a material decrease will show itself in the number of foreigners who come to the United States. They have been drawn here less by the low price of transportation than by the large opportunities for employment at good wages which have been held out to industrious newcomers.

A great decline is in progress, both in the opportunities for work and in the remuneration offered for this class of service; hence, although it may be possible to cross the Atlantic westward for $10, where $30 was formerly charged for passage money, the cut in rates will hardly induce the working population of Europe to take an ocean voyage when they have reason to believe that there will be little or nothing for them to do in the way of earning a living when they arrive in this country.

 For that reason we look to see the number of immigrants for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, drop considerably below the range of the present and the past fiscal years."

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 11 August 1904

In regard to the rate war in the Atlantic passenger trade, a Brussels correspondent writes that the Shipping Conference will meet again in September, but in the meantime the tariff difficulties threaten to be largely extended.

The Hamburg-American Line supported by all the other continental lines, intends, it is further stated, to establish a new shipping service between Scotland and Ireland, in order to prejudice the interests of the Cunard Line. It is strange how much more is known on the continent of Europe about this rate war than in British shipping centers.

If the Hamburg-American and other continental lines think they can do good business by a service between Scotland and Ireland I am sure the Cunard Line will not mind.

The Cunard Line will thereby be prejudiced just to the extent as they have been by the ten-dollar steerage rate initiated by the German lines. At any rate the Cunard Line in the conflict still proceeding have not been the greatest sufferers.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 18 August 1904

Liverpool, Aug. 8. —It has now been announced that the conference in regard to the disastrous Atlantic rate war will be held in Hamburg, the time fixed, being the beginning of next month. Herr Ballin, general manager of the Hamburg-American Line. will preside over the deliberations, and a high official from the British Board of Trade will be in attendance.

it is earnestly hoped that all parties to the struggle will calmly weigh their differences and arrive in due course at an amicable settlement which will once more bring the steerage rates to a paying level.

Liverpool Shipping Letter – 25 August 1904

Liverpool, Aug. 15. —A further development has taken place this week in connection with the Atlantic rate war, the White Star Line having issued a circular to their British and Irish agents stating that they have reduced the third-class rates to £2 by all steamers from Liverpool and Queenstown to New York and Boston.

There has been suspended, however, the free forwarding of these passengers by New York steamers to Boston, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, and by Boston steamers to New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. From these ports to this country the third-class fares are $15.

The North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-American lines also convey passengers to America from Great Britain via the continent for $10, although Continental passengers still have to pay $30 to $40, and the low fares have induced large numbers of people who otherwise would not have been able to cross the Atlantic, the traffic especially from America having thereby received quite an impetus.

While the Cunard company, so far as can be ascertained, do not intend to reduce their fares accordingly, there is every reason to believe that important negotiations are proceeding with the object either of meeting this competition or bringing about an arrangement which will practically end the war.

Rumors are current as to a conference on the matter having been held this week between Lord lnverclyde, chairman of the company, and Mr. H. Brown, the American agent of the line; and there is a belief that at no distant date the Cunard and Combine lines will agree to suspend rate cutting until a permanent settlement can be arrived at.

From inquiries I have made in Liverpool as to the effect of the cheap rates to America it would appear that the effect has not been what was anticipated.

Although now and again there have been considerable bookings, it is believed in official circles that on the whole, the season will be found at its close to be very little more than a normal one.

A particular feature of the emigration to Canada this year has been the large number of well-to-do artisans and agriculturists who have gone out to settle in the dominion, and the bookings of such have been above the average.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 8 September 1904

Liverpool, Aug. 29. —The Atlantic rate war has again occupied a good deal of attention in shipping circles here during the past week in consequence of the reduction of the first and second saloon fares for eastward traffic.

The Cunard company as I noted in my last letter commenced the cutting in this direction and, as was anticipated, the continental lines have followed suit. All the leading Atlantic lines are now therefore carrying first and second cabin passengers eastwards at from $15 to $35 cheaper than previously.

Westwards, the first and second saloon rates are unaltered, and so long as the traffic to America is as brisk as at present, there is no fear of any reductions being made, for every outward bound steamer is practically booked up until well on into next month.

With regard to the Cunard company, it may be mentioned that despite the fact that the rates charged by this line are higher than a good many competitive lines, the company still seem to secure more passengers than their vessels can carry.

The Carpathia on Tuesday took out to New York no fewer than 2,000 people, whilst the Umbria and Saxonia on their last sailings were absolutely full; and it is stated that in regard to the Saxonia, a large number of third-class passengers had to be left behind for the next sailing.

The White Star Line is also, it must be said, getting its share of the westward traffic, for the Baltic which sailed on Wednesday for New York has 1,800 third-class passengers, 260 second and over 400 saloon passengers. It is thought by those likely to know in shipping circles that no more reductions in passenger rates will be made, at any rate tor the present.

The energy with which the rate war is being carried on in Liverpool is being severely felt, and speculation is rife as to whether the sweeping reductions made. in steerage rates has stimulated business to any extraordinary degree.

The fact that the Westernland on Wednesday had not a full complement of steerage travelers at the $7 rate, indicates that even this cheap rate has not attracted as many emigrants as might have been expected. The Cunard company remain silent as to the attitude they intend to adopt in view of the wholesale reductions made by the continental lines for the eastward journey.

The fact, however. remains that even the Cunard Line must be losing the difference between the prevailing rates and those ordinarily charged, but the general opinion seems to be that the German lines are being hit the hardest in the struggle.

Rumor has it that the Germans are recouping the combine for the loss sustained between the old British rates and the reduced fares, and if there is any truth in this, the Germans must be suffering very severely for, in addition, the Cunard company are tapping all the continental business they can, and carrying the emigrants via Liverpool.

On the other hand, the German lines are attacking the Mediterranean services of the Cunard company. It is reported that the Hamburg American Line will inaugurate a new Atlantic steamship service on Oct. 1 between New York, Naples, Genoa, Trieste, and Fiume. The service will be fortnightly and will be maintained by the new fast twin screw steamships, Prince Adalbert, Prince Oskar, Phoenician and Palatia.

The Hamburg-American Line are cutting into the Cunard's business in other directions for, as recently stated, they have just commenced a new line of steamers between London, Liverpool, and Glasgow to the Adriatic.

The first steamer, Beeswing is at present here, and is due to leave the Mersey in a day or two. The Cunard Line have had a Mediterranean Adriatic service for years, and the advent of the Hamburg-American Line in this particular business may be taken as another effort to wrest trade from the Cunard Line.

At the time of writing, I am authoritatively informed that arrangements have been made for a meeting to be held at Frankfort, Germany. on Aug. 29, between Lord Inverclyde and Mr. Ballin. representing the Cunard company and the continental companies respectively, they being the principles in the controversy which has for some time been disturbing the Atlantic passenger trade.

It is to be hoped that on this occasion a solution of the existing difficulties may be found. I also learn that Mr. Bruce Ismay and Sir Clinton Dawkins, representing the combine lines, have been invited to be present, unofficially, at this meeting, and they will probably attend.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 15 September 1904

Liverpool, Sept. 5. --The conference between the representatives of the Cunard, White Star, and Continental lines which was held at Frankfort-on-Maine on Aug. 29 with a view to a settlement of the differences which brought about the war of rates in the North Atlantic passenger trade has proved abortive, but there are grounds for the belief that the negotiations, although ended so far as the Frankfort conference is concerned, are not finally closed.

Indeed, it is stated on what seems to be good authority that further conferences will probably be held at Paris or London, but on this point nothing official can be ascertained.

The general feeling here in shipping circles, however, seems to be that an arrangement will eventually be come to, because the present state of things is simply suicidal.

There are rumors that at least proposals for the basis of an agreement were laid down by the Cunard Line and by the Continental lines, at that point now at issue is the modification of these opposite platforms into such a compromise as will be acceptable to all parties.

That the German and Cunard lines met in conference at all points to the fact that both are anxious to end a struggle which is causing great loss to every transatlantic shipping company, whether they are concerned or not in the dispute.

Still the opinion has been expressed that the Germans are far more concerned as to a settlement than any of the other lines, because their losses must be so enormous.

The idea of the Hamburg American Co. in initiating the war was doubtless with the view of crippling the Cunard company. and forcing them to yield their monopoly contract for the American emigrant traffic to and from Austro-Hungarian ports, but the result so far seems to have been that the Cunard Line have been enabled to give more than blow for blow.

Furthermore, the Germans, if rumor be true, are not only losing in regard to the reduction of their own rates, but also by having to guarantee the combine lines in regard to the losses they are sustaining in cutting their steerage rates to such a low level.

But while this is one view, another is that probably the ultimate settlement will be something in the nature of a transference of the Cunard Austro-Hungarian traffic, either partly or wholly to the Germans.

Already it is reported than an offer has been made by the Germans to purchase the Cunard vessels engaged in the trade at their first cost price and give $500,000 for the good will of the business.

Until some settlement is come to, however, the disastrous war will continue with probably further rate-cutting in the near future. Although the White Star Line and others associated in what is called the American combine, have cut their fares to the low figures of $6 and $7 for westward steerage passages, they point out that this has only been done as an act of self-defense to meet the cutting tactics of the Continental lines on the one hand, or the Cunard Line on the other.

The same applies also to the other independent British lines to America and Canada. In regard to the Atlantic freight traffic, it is satisfactory to be able to state that there is an improvement in freight rates, and that in consequence one Liverpool vessel of large size, which has been laid up for some time, is being brought out for service again.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 22 September 1904

Liverpool, Sept. 12. —there have been no new developments this week in the North Atlantic rate war, and the various companies continue to carry steerage passengers across the Atlantic ocean, at rates varying from $7 to $12 according to class of steamers.

Nor is there anything fresh likely to occur in the near future, so far as one can judge, although there is some speculation as to whether the Cunard company is not waiting to inflict another blow off their German rivals by cutting the westward-bound cabin rates in the same way that they reduced those for the eastward voyage.

For the present, the westward-bound traffic continues heavy and for weeks ahead the liners are fully booked for saloon berths, the Cunard vessels especially being well filled every voyage, and until this rush of returning Americans is over, the westward rates are likely to be kept at their present figure.

Nothing further has been heard of the rumor, l noted last week, that there was a likelihood of another conference being held between representatives of the Cunard and German lines with the object of trying to settle the disastrous struggle.

Undoubtedly it is costing the various companies considerable sums, although it can hardly be believed, as has been stated in some quarters, that the loss to the belligerent is $2,000,000 per week.

Still the difference between the ordinary and reduced rates must mean an immense loss. Nevertheless, it is claimed by an authority that even $7 or $10 will cover the actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred in regard to each steerage passenger, and that it is better on the whole to have passengers at those rates than have the berths empty.

The fact at any rate seems to indicate that for the present, a further conference is not contemplated, and that is the departure this week of Mr. J. Bruce Ismay, president of the International Mercantile Marine Co. for America.

It will be remembered that he was present at the last conference at Frankfort. and there is not the slightest doubt that he will be at the next one, whenever it is held.

In the meantime, it is stated that Mr. Ismay's voyage to the United States on the Oceanic is for the purpose of effecting new economies in connection with the management of the combine.

As I have pointed out in a previous letter, the North Atlantic passenger traffic, despite the low steerage rates that have been ruling this year, shows a considerable falling off when compared with the traffic for last year.

This is now borne out by official figures to hand, which give the total passengers up to the first week in August as 860,774, against 911,740 in the corresponding period of last year. a decrease of 50,966. This year the total for the United States was 555,636, whilst 305,138 came from the States to this country.

Last year westward bound passengers numbered 683,566, and the homeward bound 218,174. With regard to the number of emigrants who left the port of Liverpool during the first eight months of this year, there were no fewer than 172,382.

In August the total was 33,102, of whom 24.992 went to the United States. 7,079 to British North America, and 291 to Australasia.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 29 September 1904

Liverpool, Sept. 19. —The reported retreat of the Continental lines in their race war with the Cunard Line has considerably relieved the tension which existed here among those engaged in the North Atlantic trade.

According to a report from Hamburg the Continental lines trading with North America have agreed to stop carrying third-class passengers from the United States to Europe at the very low rates which have been in force for some time, and a similar decision has been come to by the affiliated British lines, the higher rates coming into operation today Sept 19.

This means, apparently that the Continental lines confess that their scheme for forcing the Cunard Line to come to terms has failed in, at least, one direction.

The report, however, indicates that the struggle is to be directed more against the Cunard Austro-Hungarian Line, a further cut in the rates having been made in that trade.

The effect of the decision to raise the eastward rates by Continental and affiliated British lines will it is thought be far reaching, and doubtless the Cunard company in due course will follow suit.

With regard to the Cunard Hungarian Line, the Hungarian minister of the interior has issued fresh regulations for the control of the Hungarian immigration movement.

One of the most important clauses of these regulations provides that parties will only be given the necessary permission to emigrate when they travel by the Cunard Line from Fiume; further, the local authorities are instructed to discourage emigration as much as possible, but when it is found impossible to dissuade persons from their intention to emigrate, they are to be informed of the advantages of the Fiume route.

The authorities are also directed to take energetic measures to seek out agents of other passenger lines which have no concession from the Hungarian government and prosecute them as speedily as possible.

The low westward rates to United States ports has caused the Canadian lines to make a further cut in their fares. While the lines running to the United States ports from Britain have for some time been carrying passengers for $7, $8.50 and $10, the Canadian lines—the Allan, Canadian Pacific railway, and Dominion—wisely adhered to a $15 fare, the belief being that there were very few, if any, emigrants who were desirous of reaching Canada, who would travel via the United States, even if they could save a few shillings by so doing.

The lower rates to New York have, however, influenced traffic, with the result that the Canadian lines named have been reluctantly compelled to cut the already low rates of $15 to $10 for Quebec, whilst $2.50 extra for railway fare will be charged for Montreal. These new rates will come into force next month.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 6 October 1904

Liverpool, Sept. 26, 1904. -—The North Atlantic rate war may be now said to have collapsed in the complete defeat of the German lines. The struggle which was initiated by the continental steamship companies in May last with the express object of so crippling the Cunard company that they would be glad to relinquish their monopoly contract for the Austro-Hungarian emigrant traffic, has without any sensational incident ended by the German lines increasing their westward steerage rates by five dollars and this example has been followed by the British lines associated with them in an all-round advance in steerage fares.

For some time it has been seen that the Cunard Line were getting the better of their opponents in the struggle, but it was scarcely expected that they would so soon achieve victory without any formal agreement or announcement of reconciliation with their continental rivals.

While this happy issue gives cause for expressions of satisfaction in Liverpool shipping circles, it is regretted that the quarrel between the Hamburg-American and Cunard lines should have inflicted such loss on the lines associated with them, and other shipping companies which had most unwillingly been forced into the war to safeguard their passenger traffic.

However it is believed that the transatlantic passenger rates will be gradually increased but Some time will elapse before they reach the higher level which existed before the rate war began.

In this connection it should be noted that the Cunard company have so far made no advance in their rates, but then they have never been so low as the German and associated lines, although they have commanded sufficient passenger traffic to fill to overflowing every— one of their outgoing vessels.

As one proof of this assertion it may be stated that recently there were four Cunard liners in New York harbor at the same time, namely the Campania, Umbria, Carpathia, and Slavonia, and they had landed no fewer than 4.786 passengers, 1,740 of whom traveled cabin and 3,046 third class.

Doubtless the Cunard company will put up their westward rates in due time, but at the time of writing they are careful to withhold what their intentions are as to the future.

But whilst the Germans have beaten a retreat in regard to the North Atlantic, the Hamburg-American company is said to be determined upon trying to wrest from the Cunard company the Austro-Hungary traffic by making considerable reductions on the steerage rates in that trade.

An authority on the subject has, however, expressed the opinion that the continental lines have less chance of succeeding in their object by these means than they had in the North Atlantic rate war.

In fact to put it more explicitly, whilst the Germans had a hope of success in the North Atlantic, they have not the slightest chance of driving the Cunard from the Adriatic, for the simple reason that no German vessel under the Cunard agreement with the Hungarian government will be allowed to embark passengers at Trieste, Fiume or other Hungarian ports.

There is therefore little prospect of Herr Ballin succeeding in this quarter, and some incline to the opinion that the only rational course that the Germans can adopt is to seek an amicable working arrangement with the Cunard company.

Important developments are expected will take place in a few days towards a pacific settlement, for fresh conferences are reported as being held at Frankfort-on-Maine with the object of preparing fresh proposals to end the dispute.

The collapse of the rate war has resulted in the Canadian lines canceling the circular I noted last week, announcing a further reduction in the westward rates beginning with Oct. 1 of from $15 to $10. and it is also reported from Berlin that the German companies have also resolved to abandon the Scandinavian service, which was called into being for the purpose of depriving the Cunard company of its monopoly of the direct Scandinavian traffic.

The Germans it is said will, however. continue to offer unusually low terms to Scandinavians who travel to America via Hamburg or Bremen.

The White Star leviathan liner Baltic which left this port for New York on Wednesday will now have the record not only of being the largest ship afloat, but of carrying the largest number of passengers on a single trip, she having on board over 3,000 passengers in addition to a crew of 350 hands.

Reference to the Baltic reminds me that Messrs. Harland & Wolff at Belfast are building a sister ship to the Baltic for the Hamburg-American Line. This new vessel which will be named the Adriatic will be half a knot faster than the Baltic, giving her 17% knots speed with 15.000 H.P. compared with 14,000 in the White Star vessel. She is expected to be ready for her maiden voyage next spring.

It is reported here that the Allan liners Austrian and Phoenician, which have been engaged for many years in the service from Glasgow to Quebec, Glasgow to Boston. and Liverpool to River Plate have been sold to continental buyers. and their places will be taken in the services by faster and more modern vessels.

The Austrian is an iron screw steamer of 2,704 tons gross and 1,638 tons net register, and was built in 1867 by Messrs. Barclay, Curle & Co. of Glasgow.

The Phoenician is also an iron screw steamer of 2,425 tons gross and 1,532 tons net register built in 1864 by the same firm. With the departure of these vessels the oldest vessels left in the Allan fleet the Peruvian built in 1863, the Sarmatian built in 1871 and the Sardinian 1875.

Of the vessels building for the Allan Line, two are the turbine steamers Victorian and Virginian.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 13 October 1904

Liverpool, Oct. 3. —There has been no new development in the North Atlantic rate war since my last letter, but there is held in Liverpool shipping circles an optimistic view that a further advance in the transatlantic passenger rates will shortly be made, and that by the opening of the spring season, the fares will have been increased to the level at which they stood before the cutting began.

As I stated last week, the German lines are transferring the fight with the Cunard to southern Europe, and with the object of injuring the Cunard company's Adriatic trade.

They are reducing the American rates for Hungarian passengers. For instance, the Red Star and Hamburg-American lines quote special prepaid rates of $10, and the Holland-American $12.

The intention of course, is to convey the passengers overland from Hungary and Austria to the North Continental sailing stations, but there seems to be little prospect of this kind of competition proving successful so far as Hungary is concerned, but may be, the Continental lines will secure some few emigrants from Austria.

The Cunard company has however, a very strong position in the Adriatic, backed by the ten years agreement with the Hungarian government, and the German companies in entering upon this new struggle, will soon discover that they have less chance of success than they had in the North Atlantic struggle.

It may be remarked that the White Star Line have a Mediterranean service from New York and Boston. The steamers call at Gibraltar, Algiers, Naples, Genoa and Alexandria, but do not call at Trieste and Fiume.

As the White Star company has an arrangement with the Italian government, it would not be affected by the "cut" which the German lines have made in Hungary.

The success of the Cunard company in its fight with the German lines in the North Atlantic, will it is believed here encourage the company to endeavor to secure even a greater share of the Continental emigrant traffic.

In fact there is the best authority for stating that special attention is being directed to the Scandinavian business, and that ere long the Cunard Line will run direct steamers for these emigrants, instead of bringing them via Hull and Grimsby.

Hitherto the Scandinavians have traveled chiefly by the lines sailing from England, but if the Cunard take the course foreshadowed of establishing a direct service of steamers, they will undoubtedly secure the bulk of the traffic, and save the $4 or so which it costs at present to bring each of the emigrants from Scandinavia to Liverpool.

The excuses the Continental lines are making for their treatment of intending passengers by the Cunard Line at the control stations in Germany are damaging their own cause, and to endeavor to justify their arbitrary proceedings on sanitary grounds is as hollow as it is insincere.

The Cunard passengers are sent back from the control stations, not because they are unhealthy, but because they have Cunard tickets, in other words, no emigrant from the east of Europe, whether he be Russian, Austrian, Hungarian or any other nationality is permitted to pass through Prussia or Saxony unless he has a ticket for the German lines or one of the lines they are pleased to regard as allies.

For the Cunard Line, not one such emigrant is allowed to pass. and there is no wonder it is being asked "whether there is any justice left in Germany."

The stream of Canadian emigration from the Mersey port still continues exceptionally strong for the time of the year, and even now, so late in the season. the Liverpool landing stage invariably presents a busy scene on sailing days.

For the most part the emigrants are of the artisan and laboring class, and these are the people that Canada is in need of. No doubt a large number have been attracted by the low fares, and by the authentic statement that the Canadian harvest will this year prove a record.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 27 October 1904

Liverpool, Oct. 17. —There has been no new development during the past week in the North Atlantic rate war, beyond the publication of an official statement by the White Star Line that the further reductions in the saloon fares of this line which I announced last week are but the usual winter reductions, ordinary summer fares of $75 being brought down to $60.

This involves no new principle or departure in connection with the struggle between the Cunard and the continental lines. The position of the Cunard company seems to gain in strength as the struggle is prolonged.

The rush of Hungarian emigrants, it is said, has now become so great that the Cunard Line has been compelled to add hastily another liner to its Fiume-New York service—namely, the steamer Carpathia, a vessel of 14,000 tons.

Up to the present the service has been carried on by three steamers, and one of these, the Slavonia, when she cleared from Fiume last week, had 2,018 steerage and 44 saloon passengers on board.

The applications for this sailing were so numerous that no fewer than 1,000 were unable to find accommodation and they had to be sent overland to Liverpool, whence they will reach their destination by the Umbria and Campania.

The struggle is thought to be practically at an end as far as any further cutting of rates is concerned, and no doubt when the passenger season again comes round the fares will be raised to the level at which they stood before the cutting took place.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 3 November 1904

Liverpool, Oct. 24. It is safe now to assert that the North Atlantic war of rates which has been waged most energetically since May last is practically ended and that the old rates will be reverted to at no distant date.

In fact the Hamburg-American Line has already given notice to its agents in Liverpool that the steerage fares from Hamburg, Boulogne, and Cherbourg to New York will be raised shortly on the Deutschland, Moltke and Blucher to $37, and by the Patrician, Graf Von Waldersee, Pennsylvania, Pretoria, Batavia, Belgravia, and Bulgaria to $35.

All the other lines in due course will put up their fares accordingly, and no more will be heard of the rate war for long enough. It has been both a costly and useless struggle.

That the Germans have lost heavily has all along been recognized, but beyond those who have carefully studied the question there are few who know to what an extent those losses amount to in the aggregate, for, in addition to the sum which will represent the cutting of their own rates, the Germans have made themselves responsible for the loss sustained by other lines running from this country.

This is corroborated by the fact, which also conclusively indicates that the war is now over, that certain lines have already been requested to prepare statements of the losses they have incurred by reducing their fares.

It is therefore computed that the Germans have, as a result of the abortive struggle lost something like $150,000 per week, which since May last must amount in the aggregate to considerably over $2,000,000.

The Cunard company which has come out of the struggle victorious is said to be pursuing a vigorous policy, and to he fortifying more and more the position they have attained with the object of making their hold on the Hungarian traffic even stronger than at present.

Particularly is this the case in regard to the question of agents. The Cunard company rightly recognizes the immense importance of having in their employ the very best of agents, for they know full well that especially where continental emigrants are concerned, it is upon the agents that they have almost wholly to rely for the continuance and expansion of their business.

The Atlantic passenger trade having largely diminished owing to the summer season being at an end. the various shipping companies have arranged for reduced sailings for the winter months.

The service of the White Star Line has been curtailed, and instead of two vessels leaving the Mersey each week, only one vessel will sail and that every Wednesday.

No change occurs in the freight trade, and the arrivals and departures will be as usual. III regard to the Cunard Line the Tuesday sailings to New York have also been discontinued. Between now and the spring opportunity will be taken to give the steamers the usual annual overhaul.

There will also be fewer sailings in the Canadian trade, but the most notable announcement in connection with this traffic is that the two new turbine steamers of the Allan Line will take up their position on the Liverpool station on Feb. 23 and March 2 respectively.

On Nov. 3, 1904 the Tunisian is advertised to sail for Quebec and Montreal and this concludes the summer service. Seven days later the Allan steamer Ionian opens the winter route to Halifax and St. John, N. B. Instead of weekly the service of the American Line to and from Philadelphia will be fortnightly.

One of the Dominion liners leaves for Quebec and Montreal on Oct. 27 before the St. Lawrence becomes unnavigable and as yet, no further dates of sailing have been published.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 8 December 1904

Liverpool, Nov. 28. —I regret that it is not possible for me to announce in this letter that the North Atlantic rate war is at an end It is true that an understanding has been arrived at between the Cunard company and the German lines, but trouble has since arisen between the former company and the White Star Line through which the conflict is being prolonged.

Happily, the negotiations are pursuing a peaceable course and I have the best authority for saying that there is now a prospect of the differences which have stood in the way of an all-round settlement being satisfactorily arranged.

The following account of the present position of the North Atlantic trade by at Liverpool shipping authority very accurately summarizes the position: Considerable misapprehension exists as to the exact position which the North Atlantic passenger rate war has assumed, and the causes which have been operative in creating the present position.

In the first place, the London conference resulted in a probable basis of settlement being arrived at, and this was followed by the Berlin meeting at which the preliminary articles of agreement were discussed, and after some modification, were tacitly accepted by the belligerents.

But this agreement had reference only to the principal parties concerned, i.e., the Cunard Line and the German companies, and the points agreed to be the definite delimitation of the spheres of operation of the respective lines.

in short, the Cunard Line signified their intention of joining, under satisfactory conditions, the North Atlantic passenger conference. Scandinavia was to be reserved to British enterprise. the German lines agreed to withdraw from British steerage business, and a similar policy of give and take was adopted with regard to the Hungarian emigration business.

But before this section of the agreement could be made absolute, the Hungarian authorities, as signatories to the Cunard contract, had to be consulted.

This phase of the subject is even now subjudice. Doubtless the matter will be satisfactorily adjusted, and this view was evidently adopted by the German lines, for they regarded the struggle as practically settled, and authorized the notification that on Nov. 12 their indemnity to the British lines, which had cut their rates to fight the Cunard, ceased.

In these circumstances, the lines which had been opposed to the Cunard, of which the White Star Line was the head, desired to raise their rates at once, and a hurried meeting was convened at Liverpool on Nov. 14 to consider the position, and take the requisite steps for raising rates.

At this meeting there were present representatives of the White Star, Dominion, Allan, Anchor, Canadian Pacific railway, and Cunard Line, but the rates were not raised.

The Cunard principals were away negotiating the settlement of the Hungarian question, and they decided that before the peace decision could be given effect to there were other points of difference still to be settled. It is an old story now that friction with the Germans was not the only, or perhaps the first cause of the Cunard withdrawal from the North Atlantic passenger conference.

That was originally determined by the action of the White Star Line in introducing Friday sailings from Liverpool to New York, and overshadowing with their big 20,000-ton boats the smaller section of the Cunard fleet sailing on the Saturday.

What the Cunard company then asked for was a differential arrangement in favor of their Umbria and Etruria. This was refused, and hence a rift in the lute. This action of the White Star brought about, no doubt, by the rapid pace at which they had increased their tonnage, was also felt by other lines. it will no doubt be considered as quite the correct thing for the Cunard company to have this material point of difference cleared away before crying peace when there is no peace. In this connection it is interesting to note that the Cunard company are not alone in their protest against White Star methods.

The Allan Line have suffered severely by the action of the Dominion Line, which is run under the aegis of the White Star, in carrying only second and third class passengers on board two of their steamers, the Kensington and Southwark.

The contention of the suffering lines is that in these vessels an attempt has been made to secure custom by offering passengers first class facilities at second class rates.

A third vessel, formerly engaged in the New York trade, the Germanic, is to be renamed the Ottawa, and is to be put into the Canadian trade. It is feared that in this case also an attempt will be made to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the agreement between the various lines concerned.

It is perhaps a little difficult to understand why the Allan and other lines have accepted the position, and merely contented themselves with a protest.

Probably the rate war has prevented the settlement of these minor points of difference, but now that the Cunard have stuck out for their differential arrangement in the case of cabin bookings for the Umbria and Etruria, which will enable them to charge lower rates, and so remove the adverse handicap due to their smaller size, it is possible that they will not be alone in their insistence upon a thorough clearing of the atmosphere before steerage rates are allowed to revert to their normal level.

It is stated that the White Star Line have given assurances that this differential arrangement will be allowed. But even then, there is the question of the Kensington and Southwark and Ottawa to be considered, and it is generally felt. especially in shipping circles, that it is far the wiser policy to carry on the war a little longer in the hope of definitely settling the points in dispute, than to accept an alleged peace which might at any moment change into a resumption of hostilities.

Just how and when the rate war will cease therefore, it is impossible to say, but it is not thought that the Cunard Line will give way on the points contended for. Lord Inverclyde has evidently laid down a basis of settlement, the minimum the Cunard company can accept, and does not intend to depart from it.

Liverpool Shipping Letter - 15 December 1904

Liverpool, Dec. 5.— In Liverpool shipping circles at the time of writing there is a report current that all the difficulties in the Atlantic steerage passenger trade have now been removed, and that a revised scale of rates will shortly be issued under which a differential rate will be quoted for the slower boats of the Cunard Line. This was the one point which delayed the completion of the agreement, and it is satisfactory to know that it is now settled definitely.


"Immigrants and Steamship Wars," in The Nation, New York: Volume 78, No. 2033, Thursday, 16 June 1904, p. 465+.

"The Steamship Rate War and Immigration," in The Literary Digest, New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, Vol. XXVII, No. 26, 25 June 1904, p. 910.

"Liverpool Shipping Letter," (Pertaining to the Steerage Rate War), in Marine Review, Cleveland: The Penton Publishing Company, Vol. XXX, No. 6, 11 August 1904, p. 16.

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"Liverpool Shipping Letter," (Pertaining to the Steerage Rate War), in Marine Review, Cleveland: The Penton Publishing Company, Vol. XXX, No. 23, 8 December 1904, p. 30.

"Liverpool Shipping Letter," (Pertaining to the Steerage Rate War), in Marine Review, Cleveland: The Penton Publishing Company, Vol. XXX, No. 24, 15 December 1904, p. 18.


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