Great Britain's World-Girdling Imperialism Fastens Opium Devil on Conquered Races, ca. November 1920




Ellen La Motte in "The Opium Monopoly" Reveals Truth About England's Crime.

In a little volume of 84 pages, Ellen La Motte, an American woman has revealed the horrors of the opium evil in "The Opium Monopoly," published by Macmillan. It is the truth, compiled by Miss La Motte's actual investigation in the Far East, and by her study of the British Blue Books.

British Fought China to Compel Use of Opium.

The smuggling of opium into China, which led to the two opium wars, had its origin in India. Under the British East India Company, British smugglers were drenching China with opium. The Chinese protested and had a little Boston Tea Party, destroying 20,000 chests of good British opium.

"The resources of a Christian nation" were too much for China. China was opened up to the importation of opium. Great Britain, the greatest of Christian powers, defeated the "pagan monarch."

In the first Opium War, 1839, China was forced to give up [Hong Kong] to the British; also an indemnity of $21,000,000. The ports of Canton, Amoy, Foochow, [Ningbo] and Shanghai were opened to the importation of opium.

In the second war, which ended in the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858, China paid another indemnity of $3,000,000 and five more treaty powers were opened. Thousands of Chinese lost their lives in the wars.

"In once scene of carnage, the Times correspondent recorded that half an army of 10,000 men were destroyed by the sword in ten minutes, or forced into the broad river. The morning Herald [page 2] asserted that 'a more horrible or revolting crime than this bombardment of Canton has never been committed in the worst ages of barbaric darkness.'"

Manufacture of Opium is British Monopoly.

The Opium Monopoly is a British monopoly. It is spoken of as the Opium Monopoly in the British Blue Books. In India the poppy plant is grown in the provinces of Punjab, in the United Provinces, of Agra and [Oudh].

In the "[heyday] of China trade, 613,996 acres were under cultivation in the years 1905-1906. But the closing of the China market simply means that other outlets must be found, and apparently they are being found, since from 1914 onwards, the acreage devoted to poppy planting is slowly increasing again."

The manufacture of opium in India is a state monopoly.

"The cultivator receives advances from the government to enable him to prepare the land for the crop, and he is bound to sell the whole of the products at a fixed price to government agents, by whom it is [dispatched] to the government factory at Ghazipur to be prepared for the market. The chests of manufactured opium are sold by auction in Calcutta at monthly sales. A reserve is kept in hand to supply the deficiencies of bad seasons, and a considerable quantity is distributed by the Indian excise departments."

According to the Statistics of British India, Financial Statistics, Vol. II., 8th issue, page 159, which Miss La Motte quotes, the "cultivation of the poppy and the manufacture of opium are regulated by Act XIII of 1857, as amended by Act I. of 1911, and are under the general control of the Lieutenant-Governor and the Board of Revenue of the United Provinces, and the immediate supervision of the Opium Agent at Ghazipur. ... Advances on which no interest is charged, are given to licensed cultivators at the time of executing the agreement, and from time … until final delivery.

"After weighment the opium is forwarded to the government factory at Ghazipur, where it is manufactured in three forms -- (a) opium intended for export to foreign countries, departmentally known as 'provision opium'; (b) opium intended for consumption in India and Burma, departmentally known as 'excise opium', and (c) medical opium for export to London. Provision opium is sold by public auction in Calcutta. ... Sales are conducted month by month by the Bengal Government."

The "provision opium" is exported; the excise opium used in India, and the medical opium exported to London where, according [page 3] [to] Mr. MacDonald in his "Trade Politics and Christianity in Africa and the East," it is "being manufactured into morphia by three British firms, two in Edinburgh and one in London," from which place Japanese and other merchants buy it for smuggling to other countries where drugs are not permitted to enter.

India is the source and supply of the British opium trade, and it is from Indian opium that the drug is supplied to the world, according to Miss La Motte. This, as has been said, is a government monopoly. The revenue derived from opium directly in India alone, nets the British government over $15,000,000. Aside from this sum the opium sold under the Excise Department, including opium and liquors, nets the government $50,000,000. These excise duties are collected on spirits, beer, opium and intoxicating drugs. In British pounds the figures were thus:

In 1916-17: Excise, 9,215,899 pounds sterling; opium, 3,160,005 pounds sterling; total revenue, 118,799,968 pounds sterling.

Quoting directly from Miss La Motte, who in turn quotes from Statistics of British India:

"During the ten years ending with 1916-17 the net receipts from opium (consumed in India, not exported) being at the rate of 44 [percent]. The net receipts from liquor and from drugs other than opium. ... the increase at the rate of 48 [percent]. ... The revenue from drugs (excluding opium) has risen in ten years ... the increase being at the rate of 67 [percent]. ..."

Britain Turns India Into Nation of Addicts.

"A nation," she concludes, "that can subjugate 300,000,000 helpless people, and then turn them into drug addicts -- for the sake of revenue -- is a nation which commits a cold-blooded atrocity unparalleled by any atrocities committed in the rage and heat of war. The Blue Book shows no horror at these figures. Complacent approval greets the increase of 44 [percent] of opium consumption, and the increase of 67 [percent] in the use of other habit-forming drugs. Approval, and a shrewd appreciation of possibilities for more revenue from 'progressively higher rates of duty,' knowing well that drug addicts will sell soul and body in [page 4] order to procure their daily supply."

One outstanding fact in this study of the opium monopoly is that wherever the British flag waves over subject peoples, whether it be in India, in the South Sea Islands, or even in South America, there opium is sold, as cigarettes are sold in the United States. The British Isles are carefully guarded against opium and drugs, as are Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

Government Licenses Opium Dens in Colonies.

In Singapore, a British dependency, "we found that a large part of its revenue is derived from opium traffic." There are government-licensed opium shops and opium dens. On entering a den, the addicts purchased their opium; the packages were little, triangular packets, "each containing enough for six smokes. Each packet bears a label, red letters on a white ground, 'Monopoly Opium.'"

Opium is freely sold in the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States. About 50 [percent] of the revenues of these dependencies comes from the opium trade. A steady increase in the use of the drug is shown by official figures.

Siam is supposed to be an independent kingdom, is "protected very sternly and thoroughly by Great Britain and France." Siam has been permitted by the British to impose import duties on all commodities except British opium. This agreement was reached in the treaty between Siam and Great Britain in 1856. The Statistical Year Books for the Kingdom of Siam shows that in the year 1917-18, 1,850 chests of opium were imported. Each chest contains 140 1-7 pounds. The number of retail opium shops in 1916-17 was 3,111.

[Hong Kong] was taken from China by England in January, 1841, as an indemnity, following the first opium war, when China challenged England's right to flood the country with opium. [Hong Kong] [page 5] is on an island 90 miles south of Canton, the market for British opium. The opposite peninsula of Kowloon is also British territory. The island of Lan-tao and various other sections of China -- much larger sections than Shantung -- also belong to England.

These sections are not subject to British Control. "Here is situated a government opium factory, and the imports of Indian opium into [Hong Kong] for the past several years are. ... 1914-15, 110,712 pounds sterling." This figure is lower by 1,000,000 pounds than the year preceding, only because of the outbreak of the European war; there were few ships.

British Are Seeking New Peoples to Drug.

The Chinese open markets were closed in 1917, hence the slumps. But as Miss La Motte points out, "what we should hail at first sight as a welcome indication of a changed moral sentiment is in reality but the pause which precedes the casting about for new markets, for finding new peoples to drug."

"The Colonial Report No. 972, [Hong Kong] Report for 1917, gives the imports and exports of opium, page 7. 'The imports and exports of certified opium during the year amounted to seven chests imported, 224 chests exported. Of these, however, the imports all come from Shanghai, and of the total export of 224 chests, 186 went to Shanghai. ... Seven hundred and forty chests of Persian opium imported during the year and 745 exported to Formosa. Nine hundred and ten chests of uncertified Indian opium were imported, 410 chests by the government monopoly and the remaining 500 for the Macao opium farmer.'"

Macao is a Portuguese settlement, an island near Canton, where the opium trade is in full blast.

Persia enters the field. Persia lost its independence in 1907, when the Russian-British [treaty] divided the country. Persia is now a British possession.

The [Hong Kong] revenue [reports] show that [about] one-third of the total revenue is derived from the opium monopoly.

"Civilizing Rule" Raised Revenue from Opium.

Sarawak, near British North Borneo, is another British dependency. When the last ruler died a great tribute was paid to him by the National Geographical Magazine. [page 6]

He "had done credit to British rule in the Far East. For nearly 49 years he governed, an absolute sovereign, a mixed population of Chinese, Malays and numerous pagan tribes scattered through the villages and dense jungles of an extensive territory of the northwest coast of Borneo. Constant solicitude for the welfare of his people won the sympathy and devotion which enabled this white man, supported by an insignificant army and police, to establish peaceful occupations of civilization in place of barbarous tyranny and oppression."

The "civilizing" process, Miss La Motte points out, may be judged from the Colonial office list for 1917, which stated that "the principal sources of revenue are the opium, gambling, pawn shops and arrack." In 1917 this "well governed" little colony showed a return of $492,455 from such sources.

China again, where opium is supposed to be abolished. Shanghai is supposed to be a Chinese city. Divided into two sections, one is under nominal Chinese control, one under foreign concessions, known as the International Settlement. Over the latter section China has no control. Although opium has been abolished in Chinese territory, in this International Settlement anyone may buy as much opium as he wishes "merely by stepping over an imaginary line, into a portion of the town where the rigid anti-opium laws of China" do not apply.

Chinese Shut Shanghai Dens; British Keep Theirs Open.

"In October, 1907, there were 87 licensed opium shops in the International Settlement. In May, 1914, there were 663. In 1907 the average monthly revenue from opium licenses, dens and shops combined, were taels 5,450. In May, 1914, the revenue from licenses and opium shops alone was taels 10,995. ... At the beginning of the anti-opium campaign in 1907 there were 700 dens (for smoking) in the Native City and 1,600 in the International Settlement. The Chinese closed their dens and shops at once. In the Settlement the dens were not all closed until two years later, and the number of shops in the Settlement increased by leaps and bounds."

In 1913, the amount derived from opium licenses in the International Settlement amounted to Taels 86,386. The Statistical Abstract Relating to British India for 1912-1913 shows the export of British opium into Chinese Treaty Ports, over which the Chinese have no control, amounted to over $15,000,000. This is a tremendous increase [page 7] over preceding years.

In Turkey and Persia, which are, as Miss La Motte points out, under control of the British Empire, opium is grown. Great Britain, by gaining control of these countries, not only controls the routes to Asia, and thus clinches her hold on India, the heart of Asia, but she now has virtual control of the world's output of opium.

Another British possession is the island of Mauritius, where opium is used widely. The statistics for British India, Eighth Issue, show that in 1916-17, 120 chests were exported to the island from India. This is double the amounted exported in 1915-16, and shows a steady increase in consumption.

Habit Swiftly grows in British Possessions.

British North Borneo depends partly upon opium for revenue. In 1916 the official reports show a net revenue under the head of excise of $627,225,

"an increase in the net revenue of $150,147, due to government taking over the sole control of the sale of chandu (smoking opium) and the collection of other excise duties, formerly farmed."

The western world is not free from the use of opium. British Guiana, in South America, shows opium imports in 1915 to the amount of $22,405. This sum will undoubtedly increase in the future, since Argentina is now feeling the effects of the drug, which finds its way over into bordering countries. Argentina is fighting the drug evil, but without much effect.

Japan is the only Oriental country which is not drugged. It is the only independent country in Asia. The Philippines, to the credit of America, does not permit the sale of opium. Perhaps much of the anti-Japanese propaganda may be traced to the fact that Japan guards her people against the drug habit as carefully as do western peoples. Because, according to English arguments, opium is a good thing for Orientals.

Miss La Motte related a number of stories, short, brutal, little things demonstrating this. In Siam an Englishman proved it to her. He was [traveling] through the jungle, he said, with a number of coolies. By nightfall they were exhausted with the long march. But since he was rushed for time, he merely gave them each a "shot" of morphia in the arms, whereupon all traces of fatigue vanished and they marched all night.

Japan Distributes Drug, Defying Chinese Law.

The Inter-Church World Movement published a news item on February 7, in which Japan is charged with the distribution of opium and its derivatives in China, in defiance of the Chinese laws. Dr. F. W. Bible of the Foreign Survey Department speaks at length on the drug menace in China. [page 8]

"In spite of the fact that cultivation of the opium poppy has been forbidden by the government, disturbed conditions throughout the republic have led to the fostering of poppy growing by some of the revolutionary leaders because of the large revenues accruing from it. But the real drug peril, Dr. Bible says, lies in the import of morphine, cocaine and other refined forms of opium. Japanese merchants, says Dr. Bible, are flooding the Chinese market with hypodermic syringes." ...

Miss La Motte tells of such charges also coming from other sources. Putnam Weale and other English students of Oriental affairs continually charge Japan with the sin of smuggling the opium into China.

This is true, says Miss La Motte. But Japan does not manufacture syringes. She does not cultivate the poppy plant or manufacture opium. Morphia is not manufactured in any appreciable quantity in the East. The bulk of the manufacture takes place in England, Germany and Austria. And now Germany and Austria are out of the game. In the opium traffic, two firms in Edinburgh and one in London are engaged. The Board of Trade of Great Britain shows that, during 1914, 14 tons of morphia was exported from Great Britain. Figures later compiled show that this amount has risen to 20 tons.

Japan Censured for Great Britain's Sin.

"We are asked to condemn the Japanese who purchase their stocks of opium as individuals, and who distribute it in the capacity of smugglers," writes Miss La Motte. "WE ARE NOT ASKED TO CENSURE THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT WHICH PRODUCES, MANUFACTURES AND SELLS THIS OPIUM AS A STATE MONOPOLY. We are asked to denounce the Japanese and their nefarious smuggling and shameful traffic, but the source of supply, which depends upon these smugglers as customers at the monthly auctions, is above reproach. A delicate ethical distinction."

Yet ↑China↓ according to reports, is being drenched with morphia. "Apparently the three British firms which manufacture morphia, two in Edinburgh and one in London, are still going strong."

Britain to Blame for America's "Dope Fiends."

Other evidence clearly shows that now much of the morphia which reaches Japan for distribution in China passes through the United States. All of the drugs do not pass through the United States. Much of it remains here. The drug evil in New York City alone is well known. To quote again from Miss La Motte:

"The number of drug addicts in America today is fairly startling. The number is variously estimated in New York City alone as from 10,000 to 100,000. It is said that there may be 1,000,000 in the country."

She further shows that we cannot grapple with this problem if we ignore the source of supply and distribution and the reasons for [page 9] immense over-production of opium on the part of the British opium monopoly.

America does not grow the poppy plant; it does not manufacture opium or drugs. Yet today the drug evil is a [menace] in America.

"The anti-narcotic laws on our statute books are powerless to protect us. With Canada, a British province, to the north, and all Mexico on the south, what chance have we against such exposure?"

She concludes her great work, which is invaluable, by stating:

"The opium monopoly was not established for any humane or altruistic purpose. ... That monopoly was established not to relieve pain and suffering, by creating drug victims by the thousand. It is these hundreds of thousands of [customers?] that are profitable. The menace to America lies in the large amounts of opium which are smuggled into the country for this purpose. ...

"Our politicians and our diplomats have been too careful all these years to speak of this business, for fear of offending a powerful nation. But we feel that the time has now come to speak. England has been relying upon our silence to 'get away with it.' Upon our ignorance, and upon that silence, which gives consent. But in this new changed world, reborn out of blood and agony and the great war, is it not time to practice some of the decencies which we have proclaimed so loudly?"

The source of the drug evil is the British government, through whose agents, official and unofficial agents opium and its derivatives are distributed. The British government has drugged hundreds of millions of Asian peoples. Why has it guarded its own people? Why, if opium is a good thing for Asia and even for South American British possessions, is it not turned loose in England? It is not even permitted in Ireland -- because it is too near England.

Drugged peoples are usually docile and submissive, says Miss La Motte. Perhaps that is the secret of much of the successful colonization, about which we hear so much, is her further observation. Why, she asks, is the white race sedulously protected from such vices, while the subject races are not worth protecting.

There are words which cover up the truth. "Successful colonization" and the "White Man's Burden" are some of them.

"It would seem, at first glance," says Miss La Motte, "as if subject races were fair game -- if there is money in it. Subject races, dependents, who have no vote, no share in the government and who are powerless to protect themselves -- fair game for exploitation. Is this double-dealing what we mean when we speak of 'our responsibility to backward nations,' or of 'the sacred trust of civilization,' or still again when we refer to 'the white man's burden?'"