Arrived in Liverpool the
sixth of July, and left immediately for Glasgow where I interviewed many
of the big shipowners and shipbuilders; thence to Newcastle, and saw as
many as my time would permit. In London I got in close touch with the
Shipping Board, especially Sir Joseph McLay, who was at the head of
Government shipping. Was pleased to have the opportunity of visiting
Falkirk, my native town, and actually gave up business for three days.
But I was not exactly idle as I carefully looked over twelve acres of
land in the town, called the Estate of Arnotdale. There were four houses
on it, all rented, one of them a fine big mansion. I did not make it
known, but I gave the Mayor enough money to buy it. Some time after this
I got a telegram that they had closed the transaction. It will make a
fine park right in the town. There is a swimming bath on the place, and
the rents they receive will make it self-supporting. All this was the
result of taking three days off from work.
EXCERPT FROM THE FALKIRK
"Arnotdale. a large
residential property in Falkirk, with adjacent grounds extending to
fully eleven acres, has been purchased for the benefit of the town
through the generosity of Mr. Robert Dollar, San Francisco, a native of
the town. The price paid for the property was £5600. The donor, who left
Falkirk when a young man, is the founder of the Robert Dollar Line of
steamships, plying chiefly between America and China. Mr. Dollar's
previous benefactions to Falkirk include the Dollar Public Library,
which formed the nucleus of the present Free Public Library; a gift of
£3000 towards the erection of public baths m the town, and a handsome
granite fountain which stands in the Victoria Public Park, as a memorial
to Sir John De Graeme, who fell at the first Battle of Falkirk in 1298.
While at lunch with Sir
Joseph McLay, he strongly advised me to go to Bristol and look over the
steamer Parisien that had just arrived from America with a cargo of
wheat, as he wanted to sell her. She was a German prize ship and I found
her to he in excellent condition, and made an offer which was accepted.
We changed her name to Esther Dollar. She is 11,500 tons deadweight and
has proven quite satisfactory. I had no idea of buying a ship when I
left home, but the unexpected often happens.
Was ten days in New York,
where I had to make a change in the management of our shipping
department, and succeeded in securing a very good man for the job.
Office room was so scarce, that our offices were in different locations;
the merchandise office being 17 Battery Place and the Dollar Steamship
Company's office at 44 Whitehall Street. This is a bad arrangement, but
could not be helped. Offices are not so much in demand now, and no doubt
we will soon get them all in one building.
In an endeavor to
increase our business I stayed one day in Chicago. At a luncheon I met
many prominent men, with whom I discussed the ways and means of
increasing their foreign trade. I arranged to increase our force of
freight solicitors, so that they could cover more territory and obtain
freight for our New York end as well as for Vancouver. We were preparing
to meet the effect of the Jones Bill, which if enforced, would prevent
our Vancouver vessels from getting any overland freight; therefore, we
would be forced to divert all the freight possible by the shorter rail
haul to New York, hence our line would be able to get freight that way
and not be cut off altogether on account of our trans-Pacific steamers
being British. But the Government seems to be afraid to enforce this law
on account of the belief that other nations would retaliate, which they
would certainly do.
On the 16th of September
I had a very pleasant duty to perform at the "San Francisco Theological
Seminary'' at San Anselmo. As president of the Board of Trustees, I
assisted in the ceremony of inducting the Rev. L. T. White into the
Margaret S. Dollar chair of Christian Sociology, which became
Upper—STEAMER "ESTHER DOLLAR"
Lower—STEAMER "MELVILLE DOLLAR"
possible by our endowing
the chair with $50,000, which I paid last Christmas. There was a great
crowd present at the ceremony. Afterwards at the reception and tea we
had a real pleasant time and everyone seemed to enjoy the proceedings.
Mr. White will also take charge of the library which is very much in
need of reconstruction. This work is well under way and will prove a
great boon, not only to all connected with the Seminary, but as a
lending library to all ministers west of the Rocky Mountains, so the
benefit will be far-reaching. This is a big job, but is being well done.
Mrs. Dollar and I had the
pleasure of giving a reception at the Commercial Club to over two
hundred Chinese, mostly young men, but some young women, who had come to
America to finish their education. They were very fine looking
intelligent people, who will do a great deal when they return to their
native country toward increasing and perpetuating the happy and friendly
relations that now exist between America and China. It is impossible to
estimate the great benefit these returned students are to the trade
between the two countries, as they come from and return to every
province of China. Other countries are making a strong effort to get
them, notably Great Britain and France. Japan has tried to get them, but
the Japanese policy in China has caused the withdrawal of many students
from Tokyo. A short time later, we received another lot of eighty, also
at the Commercial Club. I addressed a meeting at the Seminary dinner;
the subject given me was a most remarkable one: "What I Would Do If I
Were a Minister." At first I thought I could not do it, but I made the
attempt and was told that I bad succeeded fairly well; they certainly
were a very appreciative audience.
October 16th we had a
great reception at our home, at which over one hundred were present,
sixty of them were Chinese students, who were attending the university
and schools in the vicinity. The remainder were our friends, professors,
ministers, and those interested in the Chinese.
When I returned from
England, I found that the Water Company had sold twelve acres adjoining
the park and this cut off our water supply, leaving the San Rafael park
valueless if we had no water; so I started proceedings to have the sale
cancelled and succeeded in getting the land for the city by my paying
$12,000. All this caused a good deal of stir in our small community, but
the result is quite satisfactory, as the park is now assured of an
abundant supply of water, and besides, the twelve acres of land make a
valuable addition to the public, which, later on, will be improved and
made a lasting benefit to future generations.
Addressed a big meeting
of the Transportation Club, on "The Merchant Marine and Shipping Matters
Generally." All present were in the transportation business and seemed
to enjoy what I said. They gave me a real good reception.
In November I visited
various branches of the Y. M. C. A. in San Francisco, and was surprised
and pleased to see the progress that had been made in the Filipino,
Japanese and Chinese. I was the guest of honor of the Chinese Six
Companies. All were in favor of having a building erected on the land
owned by the Chinese branch of the Y. M. C. A. Mr. Mott was interested
and we hope that funds will be provided to have this building erected in
the near future.
At San Rafael I addressed
a meeting of the Masons on Pacific Ocean Commerce, especially with China
I bought and presented to
the San Francisco Y. M. C. A. a lot adjoining the main building, to
enable them to expand and to provide for the ever-increasing boys' work.
It is a valuable acquisition for the future of the association. Last
year I purchased and presented to the Orphanage at San Anselmo,
forty-two acres of land adjoining its present holdings. This includes a
piece of bottom land that will pasture enough cows to supply them witli
all the milk they require, saving the institution $1500 a year. Those
two purchases amounted to about $20,000.
In December, at the very
urgent request of various clubs of Oakland, I accepted an invitation to
address an audience at the Hotel Oakland, at which there was not even
standing room for all who wanted to get in. My subject was "Foreign
Trade and Advice to Young Men."
EXCERPT FROM LOCAL PRESS
"'The Pacific Coast is
the most favored part of the world and is destined to supersede the
Atlantic as the center of world commerce. Captain Robert Dollar told
more than five hundred business men at the Lions' Club luncheon in Hotel
Oakland. Members of the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Progressive Business Men's
Club, and the Lions' Club of Berkeley and San Francisco, were among
those who were present to hear the veteran shipping man speak on foreign
"'Captain Dollar told of
the opportunities in opening the field of foreign trade, of the hard
work and assured success, and threw in for good measure some typical "Cappy
Ricks" observations on the League of Nations and the Japanese situation.
With humorous stories he brought many a laugh and with emphatic
utterances drew rounds of applause.
"In part he said:
"'The trend of foreign
trade, which has always been from East to West, is now on the Pacific.
To those pessimists who are wondering what will happen here, I would
call attention to the fact that the first steamer to cross the Pacific
sailed only fifty years ago. The end is not yet, and will not be until
the commerce of the Pacific supersedes that of the Atlantic.
"'We have awakened to the
fact that we must have foreign trade. The manufacturers of the United
States produce in six months enough for our needs for a year. No nation
and no treaty will bring this foreign trade to us. We have got to go out
after it. and I want to tell you it is some job.
"'We on the Pacific are
in the most favored position of any nation on earth. We are facing the
world commerce. Our Government once passed the law prohibiting our
national banks from having branches in other countries. Can you beat
"Captain Dollar outlined
the principal factors of foreign trade as the manufacturer, the
retailer, the shipowner and the banker and added:
"'Congress has retarded
and held us back until recently. The Japanese during the world war had
control of the Pacific. That has been changed and now America has
control. The Standard Oil company, the Steel company and the Tobacco
companies did more to develop our commerce than any others and Congress
laid awake nights trying to put them out of business. A few years ago
Americans were discouraged.
"'If we wish to go for
foreign trade we must go for keeps. Hopping in and out will not do any
good. Look the ground over and be prepared for hard work and for
obstacles and I want to tell you success is assured. There are not
enough men anywhere to till the positions on the top.
"'The young men are the
ones who will conduct this business. We must have American citizens to
do our business in foreign countries. If you do business with foreign
houses you will get the business provided it doesn't suit them better to
do it with their own countrymen.
"'The great effort in
this country to stir up international strife is to be deplored. We don't
want Japanese workmen here, and should tell them in the proper manner
find I don't believe that, in that event, they would be offended. We are
on the eve of seeing trouble if we do not look out.'
"Of the League of Nations
Captain Dollar said: 'A union of the English speaking peoples of the
world is a league that will accomplish something. What nation or
combination of nations would dare oppose us? That is away ahead of a
league of nations, for it would be workable.' "
The day before Christmas
I gave a luncheon at the Commercial Club to our sixty five office
employees, all having an enjoyable time. This number shows the great
increase of our business in recent years. As a mark of appreciation of
their services everyone received an extra month's salary as a Christmas
present together with a half holiday, so they went home happy. Their
appreciation was sufficient satisfaction to me and fully repaid me. The
great success that we are having is produced by the loyalty of our men,
without which it would be utterly impossible to successfully carry on
the great work we are doing, and I hope we will be able to keep alive
this interest in all our employees throughout the world.
We decided to start a
line of big steamers around the world. Four have already made the trip
with very satisfactory results, and we are in great hopes of being able
to maintain this record permanently. I find a note in my diary December
29th, "That I spent the day working hard, planning the future
development of our rapidly expanding business." I often think that it is
expanding too fast; but the curtailment of it presents quite a problem
as the business appears to demand the expansion." Looking backward only
a very few years, we are convinced that it has exceeded the ordinary
growth, as we have offices in Japan, China, the Philippines, Straits
Settlements, India, Russia and Greece, seven offices in the United State
and Canada, besides twelve m the countries stated above, making nineteen
offices in all. It is only by enumerating these various offices that one
realizes the increased scope.
On the 31st of December I
find this note: "Every minute of this day was taken up until bedtime and
still I could have used some more if human strength could have held
out." But I feel thankful to be able to work as hard and accomplish as
much as I have. I cannot do better than copy the note I made at the end
of my diary in 1920: "Above all the years in my life this one certainly
takes first place in my earnest and sincere thanks to God for all the
blessings he has heaped on me and mine during 1920. We have had abundant
pleasure and happiness and have all enjoyed the best of health; and as
to prosperity and success in all our undertakings, we must thank the
Giver of all good for success beyond our most sanguine expectations and
desires. All of our steamers have run without accident, in fact it is
remarkable how free all have run for so many years, so we can all say
from the heart, 'Thank God, from whom all blessings come. Therefore, we
start the year with supreme confidence in the future, knowing that God
is with us and hoping prosperity will enable us to aid humanity with our
money, and that we will be permitted to leave the world a little better
than we found it.