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Memoirs of Robert Dollar
Vol. 2 - Chapter Twenty

Under the caption, San Francisco Shipowner Hailed Great American Genius, The Call of San Francisco published on November 29, 1921, the following- interview.

"Through the foresight and activities of Captain Robert Dollar the United States today occupies a formidable position as one of the great future commercial pivots of the world," according to Judge Joseph Buflington of Pittsburg, Pa., senior circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals, who registered at the Hotel St. Francis following his return from the Orient.

Discussing his observations during his tour of the Orient and particularly the part played by Captain Dollar, Judge Buffington said:

"Hankow, the greatest potential commercial center of China, in fact the greatest of the Orient of the future, has been developed by Captain Robert Dollar of San Francisco, who possessed the foresight to go into that uninviting territory when conditions were most unfavorable, and launch a project that has won not only the good wil! of the Chinese, but that has also won recognition from all other nations interested in the straightening out of the tangle in the Far East.

"Hankow possesses all of the advantages of an inland city such as Chicago. Its facilities and natural location make a natural distribution center for the most promising portion of China, and it is through Hankow that a great bulk of the Siberian trade will pass when this bolshevik nonsense is terminated.

"Hankow also possesses all of the advantages of a seaside city such as our own San Francisco with its wonderful harbor. During my visit there, 1 saw great trans-Pacific liners along the waterfront in Hankow, nearly 600 miles inland.

"A visit to the Y. M. C. A. erected by Captain Dollar clearly demonstrates that Captain Dollar has picked the right man for the right place. The personnel of the staff in charge of that institution are all live wires and awake to the situation confronting them.

"The greatest regret I have suffered during my entire trip is the fact that I was unable to talk with Captain Dollar, who is a great American genius. He is one of the few Americans who has realized that if we are in to gain our share of the trade with the Orient we must go there exactly as the Germans did before the war and exactly as the English are going there today. Americans must realize that it is necessary to li\e among the Orientals and to understand them thoroughly if we are to participate in their trade.

"The Germans today are getting back into the Orient and they are going back after the trade that was cut off during the war. When they get back into the Orient they are going to remain there and build up their business just as rapidly as is possible. The hope of America in the Ear East lies in the work we are doing in Hankow to a very large extent.

"During my stay in the Orient I visited the rural districts of China and Japan because I wanted to get closer to the soul of these countries. I believe that I was at least partially successful in this.

"Japan does not want to fight the United States. The people of Japan are keenly interested and hopeful of the outcome of the arms limitations conference at Washington and the entire Orient is united in its prayers for an agreement among the various nations which will reduce the excessive expenditures for armament.

"China and Japan both are staggering under the burden of excessixe taxation due to the cost of the upkeep of their armies and China especially feels the need of reducing 'ts ridiculously large and ineffective army. What China needs most is a centralized government which can have a small hut thoroughly disciplined army for police purposes.

"Japan wants peace with the United States because Japan realizes that she needs us far more than we need Japan.

California rice today is feeding thousands of Japanese, and these people have an exceedingly kindly feeling toward our country

"The Chinese people is a great people, although I do not believe that we should drop the bars against immigration which have been set up against them, because this probably would result in some very serious difficulties in our own domestic life.

"Japan today is in a copying frame of mind. This makes Japan keenly alive to the opinion of other nations—inter national public opinion.

"This psychological attitude of Japan, I believe, will influence Japan to eventually do the right thing by old China.

"Japan realizes that a war of a few months' duration, especially a war against the United States, would result fatally to Japan."


The United States Government has finally come to the conclusion as to the utter hopelessness of its ability to operate ships in competition with privately owned vessels of foreign nationalities.

And, judging from the contents of a news dispatch under date of Washington, D. C., December 12, 1921, the Government has also come to view the suggestion made by me in my address before the Los Angeles Chambers of Commerce in January 1919, as the only logical and practical way in which to dispose of its ships. The dispatch is as follows:

"Twenty-eight cargo vessels of various types have been ordered sold by the United States Shipping Board, effective December 28. The price of the vessels will be on a par with world tonnage prices, according to information received in San Francisco shipping circles.

"Previously the Board had held that in the sale of ships the replacement and initial cost must be considered.

"The change indicates that the Government will accept the price at which vessels of corresponding type of construction of foreign registry may be acquired,.

"Five of the steamers to be sold are the Eastern Merchant, 12,500 deadweight tons, which was built in the Asano shipyards io Japan; the steamers Oriental, Mandarin, Celestial and Cathay. The last four named steamers are of 10,500 tons deadweight, and were built at the Kiangnan Dock and Engine Works in China. The Cathay is nearing completion in the Orient at present, but the other three vessels have been delivered.

"The Mandarin has been tied up here since last March and the Oriental is now at the Moore yards undergoing repairs. These two vessels have never carried a pound of cargo. The Celestial is in Europe for the Williams, Dimond Company.

"The other vessels offered for sale are the South Bend, 12,000 deadweight tons, Easter Trade, East Indian, Eastern Shore, Eastern Light, Chickamauga, Pinellas, Bethnor, Mason City, Macomet, Maddequet, Tashmoo, Oronokc, Suzveid, Absecon, Tuckahoe, Minooka and the Delifina."


Thirty years ago this December, 1921, our entire fleet was the steamer "Newsboy," of 260 net registered tons. Now it is composed of a fleet of thirteen steamers with a deadweight capacity of 89,918 tons, and ten sailing vessels of 44,120 tons capacity; a total of twenty-three vessels with a deadweight capacity of 133,038 tons.

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