I-"The Kanaka Labour Traffic" - J.D. Melvin - The Argus

"Special Investigation by The Argus; A Representative on a Recruiting Schooner"

The ‘bed rock,’ so to speak, of the discussion is the assertion made far and wide that the traffic is a form of slavery, the labourers being decoyed into servitude and cruelly treated. If there was no such accusation there would be no agitation worthy of the name, but the charge has been made and persistently repeated. With a view, therefore, to obtaining an absolutely reliable insight into the manner in which the traffic is conducted, the proprietors of The Argus determined upon a bold and difficult enterprise. They resolved, if possible, to send a representative secretly to the scene of the recruiting, so that every phrase of the work might be watched and impartially and fully reported upon. A capable, experienced, and trusted journalist, who has been very successful in many important ventures requiring tact, discrimination, and perseverance, was selected to the duty, and he has just returned to Melbourne after a four months’ cruise in the Solomon Islands in the labour schooner Helena. 

Description:Australian conservative newspaper The Argus sent reporter J.D. Melvin undercover on The Helena, a blackbirding schooner headed for the Solomon Islands. It returned four months later with ninety recruits. This article explains the methodology and importance of the assignment, emphasizing Melvin as a trustworthy reporter.

Rights: Public domain.

Additional Media

An article written as part of The Argus' series "The Kanaka Labour Traffic" by J.D. Melvin.