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I LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL........
This report is based upon the personal examination of thirty passenger-carrying vessels, comprising twenty-one steamships and nine sailing.vessels, and an inspection of 8,488 steerage-passengers carried thereon.
Owing to the season of the year at which the investigation was made, few of the coinpartments contained the maximum number of passengers allowed by law; the average space legally allowed on the vessels examined being 15.22 superficial feet, while the space actually occupied was 17.75 superficial feet to each statute passenger.
" The official reports of the collectors of customs” were found to be inaccurate; vessels being incorrectly reported as to passenger-carrying capacity, (and, consequently, in some instances, for carrying excess of passengers,) as to number of decks, ventilators, and a variety of minor details. These errors, it is believed, arise from the loose and inoperative law under which examinations are made, and through which the duties of examiners are merely perfunctory. The chief evil caused by these incorrect reports is in impairing the value of statistics computed from such sources, since no action has ever been maintained for a reported violation of any of the provisions of the act of March 3, 1855, ex-Solicitor Jordap being hof opinion that there is too much doubt as to the appli. cability of the penalties to the case of a vessel arriving from abroad to warrant any attempt to enforce them.” (Solicitor's Office, December 12, 1866.)
The investigation having been conducted at ports of arrival, or during the last few hours of the voyage, when, in order to pass examination by health-officers and others, unusual efforts are made at cleanliness and ventilation, a chemical analysis " of the atmosphere of the steerage compartments” would have been misleading for any purposes of sanitary knowledge or legislation. Instead of this a careful study was made of the provisions and appliances for ventilation, a detailed account of which is given in the report.
No uniform system obtains; but the newer steam-vessels are believed to be quite as well if not better ventilated than the average hotel, hos. pital, or other public building. While not recommending any particular plan of ventilation a combination of the two systems pro. pulsion," the one in general use, and “suction”-is believed to possess decided advantages over either one singly, and the feasibility is sug. gested of utilizing the escaping heat of the furnace-rooms and of the funnel for creating an exhaust current from the steerage compartments through properly located foul-air shafts, by which mode the suction" of foul air from the steerage could be efficiently and economically combined with the “propulsion” of fresh air into the compartments, by the usual ventilating shafts, wind-sails, &c.
Without assuming the role of amateur steerage-passenger, and in that manner personally testing “the general treatment of immigrants on board ship," it is believed that a trustworthy opinion on tbis subject has been arrived at from other methods of observation. Thus a personal inspection of a large majority of the passengers of the vessels