Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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MADAGASCAR a large island in the Indian ocean, separated from eastern Africa, by the Mozambique channel, in which are situated the four islands of the Comoren group (Angarija, Moély, Anjouan and Mayotte). Its axis, directed from north-northeast to south-southwest, is about 300 French leagues in length, while its average, but very variable, width is only eighty leagues. The coast is greatly subject to marsh fevers, during a part of the year; the country rises by a succession of mountains and table lands to the central plateau, which is perfectly healthy. The height of this region does not appear to be less than 2,000 metres, and commands the city of Tananarivoo, capital of the tribe of the Hovas. The coast, winding and irregular, presents a multitude of bays, roadsteads and harbors; the greatest of these indentations is that of Diégo-Souarez, at the north, near Cape Amber. Madagascar by its position commands both routes to India, that by the Red sea, and that by the cape, and owing to the trade winds has easy communication with the islands Reunion and Mauritius, situated 150 French leagues to the east, in the middle of the Indian ocean. Hence its political importance, well understood to-day, one which increases the economic value which it receives from its mineral, vegetable and animal resources. Rice and cattle are the principal articles of commerce.


—Madagascar is estimated to contain three or four millions of inhabitants, divided into a multitude of tribes, among which only two have acquired an historical name: the Sakalaves, extended over the whole western coast, and the Hovas, settled on the central plateau, in the district of Emyrne; the first of African origin, the second of the Malay race. The latter, either through their own genius, or the topographical conditions which have excited their activity, acquired, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a marked preponderance, under the reign of Radama I., who was favored in his projects by the French and the English who appeared at his court. Owing to their counsel and their assistance, he not only subjected to his power the numerous tribes which had been independent up to that time, but he made his people acquainted with the elements of civilization: schools, manufactures, etc. Under the reign of his widow, Ranavalo, who succeeded him in 1828, all moral and religious progress was nearly suspended, but commercial relations kept up the unbroken interchange of ideas, as well as products, which seem to justify the recognition made by France and England, in 1861, of Radama II., son of Ranavalo, as king, not only of the Hovas, but of Madagascar, although a great number of tribes were free from his authority.


—The island of Madagascar, after having been visited by the Portuguese, the English and the Dutch, who did not remain there, was approached with plans of final settlement, by the French, in the course of the seventeenth century. A company, to develop its wealth, was formed as early as 1637, and received from Louis XIII., in 1642, the privilege of trading. The numerous trading stores and forts became the instruments of development, and the island even received the name of Oriental France. During two centuries, the French flag was maintained alone, with vicissitudes of checks and reverses; and if it was necessary to abandon the French posts, in 1831, the establishment of Sainte-Marie remained in the hands of France, as a permanent declaration of French rights and intentions, that is, rights of sovereignty, not in the sense that France laid claim to the ownership of all the island with reference to the natives, and as mistress of their fortune, but sovereign with reference to foreign powers, which were not to found establishments there without the permission of France. As to her relations with the natives, the treaties which she concluded at different times with the Sakalaves of the western coast, for the opening of ports and the freedom of trade, testify clearly that France never intended to impose her authority by force on all the inhabitants. It does not even appear that the recognition of the chief of the Hovas, as king of Madagascar, implied an express renunciation of the historic rights of France. In the absence of the official version, the most authentic accounts assure us that the representative of the emperor accompanied his recognition with this declaration, "that the emperor, Napoleon III., in recognizing Radama as sovereign of the island, hoped never to be forced again to vindicate the rights of France."


—Be this as it may, the elevation of this prince to power, in the month of August, 1861, was followed, as we have said, with two treaties of friendship and commerce, concluded the one with France, the other with England, whose delegates assisted at his coronation. The treaty with France was dated Sept. 12, 1862, concluded at Tananarivoo, between Capt. Dupré in the name of the emperor, and three personages of the Hova court in the name of the king (the commander-in-chief, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of justice). It comprises twenty-four articles, then an additional article, abolishing import as well as export duties, and was promulgated by imperial decree of April 11, 1863. (Bulletin des Lois, 1102, No. 11,089.) The treaty with England is dated at Tananarivoo, Dec. 5, 1862; the negotiator on the side of England was Thomas Conolly Packenham, consul of her Britannic majesty; the representatives of Radama were the commander-in-chief (Rainilaiarivony), the minister of justice (Rainiketaka) and three secretaries of state in the ministry of foreign affairs (Ramarinako, Razanakembana and Clement Laborde, Jr.). The principal clauses of these treaties, which are almost alike, are as follows: Continual peace and perpetual friendship; reciprocal liberty of entering, residing, traveling and trading in the country; a guarantee of privileges, immunities and advantages granted to the most favored nation; freedom of worship recognized to the Malgaches; reciprocal duties on tonnage and importation; abolition of all prohibition of importation and exportation; jurisdiction over foreigners reserved to foreign consuls; inheritances, goods of shipwrecked persons given to those having rights of foreigners.


—At the same time that King Radama signed the treaty with France, he ratified and signed a great concession of lands and industries which, some years before, when he was only heir apparent, he had accorded to Lambert, his representative in France. For the development of this wealth a joint stock company was formed in Paris under the name of Le compagnie de Madagascar financière, industrielle et commerciale, and authorized by imperial decree of May 2, 1863. Baron de Richemont, senator, was appointed governor. An exploring expedition was immediately organized, which departed about the end of May, 1863, with Lambert and Dupré, bearers of the ratification of the treaty by the emperor. On arriving in the Indian ocean, the plenipotentiary of France heard of the terrible revolution of the palace which had been accomplished at Tananarivoo during his absence. May 12, King Radama, with thirty of his favorites, were strangled by the party of the former officers and Hova aristocracy, who wished to regain the power and prestige they enjoyed under Queen Ranavalo. His wife, Rabodo, had been proclaimed queen of Madagascar under the name of Rasoherina, and had sworn to a species of constitution. Dupré arrived in the waters of Tamatave during the month of July, and announced to the court of Emyrne that he was the bearer of a ratified treaty, the execution of which he required, as well as the Lambert charter, which a company had acquired. The Hova government refused, unless important modifications were made. After useless negotiations, Commander Dupré was obliged to leave the harbor of Tamatave, convinced of the definite check of his pacific and diplomatic policy, through the persistent opposition of the Hovas. The French consul withdrew. Political relations were interrupted and commercial relations were again restricted by the establishment of customs duties. The influence of the French, grown weak since the death of Queen Ranavalo, and which the treaty of 1862 had re-established only on paper, was henceforth reduced to nothing. The Malgaches went so far as to destroy the manufactory of arms established by a Frenchman, which was called by the queen "the indestructible beauty." The French government still thought of recovering some credit at the court of Tananarivoo. We find in the yellow book, of 1867, that the revision of the treaty of 1862 had been resumed under conditions which justified the hope that the queen would cease to guard the unexplored wealth of her kingdom from the pacific conquests of commerce and industry. The queen, in fact, seemed to consent to a resumption of negotiations; she had brought out from the sanctuary the statue of Kelimalaga, the goddess of international relations, when she died suddenly (1868), and the project was not carried out. Her cousin, Rauroma, succeeded her under the name of Ranavalo II., and the credit of Europeans was strengthened only in one case, which was moreover creditable to their humanity. They succeeded in saving the lives of the authors of a conspiracy formed under the direction of the former ministers of Radama. But these unfortunates were nevertheless confined in a cave where several of them died of hunger. Their wives and children were reduced to slavery; and their goods confiscated. Such was the custom of the country. We mention this fact to show the state of civilization of the Hovas, under one of its aspects. Their religion, their social hierarchy, their penal laws, date from what might be called organic paganism; and in considering the Hovas we might cite as a corresponding example the kingdoms of Italy in the time of Romulus, or those of India at the beginning of Brahmanism, if we had not to take account of their race, which is much less elegant, less artistic and less philosophic than the nations of classic paganism, and much less progressive also. Hence the Hovas would require a number of years, impossible to be determined, to arrive at western civilization, if the latter did not come to them from abroad, and come with as few chances of being accepted as possible, which may be understood from their inferiority.


—The Hovas are of the Malay rac similar to the population of southern India, Malacca, the Moluccas and the northern islands of Oceanica. This race was transplanted to Madagascar, but the time and circumstances of this transplanting are not known. It is more or less mixed with Caffre, Arab and Malgache elements. A people arrived at this degree of complicated civilization, is perhaps less accessible to a superior civilization than an altogether barbarous one. The Hovas, imbued with the feeling of their own superiority, hostile to strangers, form an aristocracy of a very positive turn of mind, full of resources in politics: generally some noble family has control of the king or the queen, and its influence is the better received by the rest of the nation, the more it succeeds in excluding foreigners.


—Slavery was abolished in Madagascar by a proclamation dated June 20, 1877.


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Ellis. History of Madagascar, London, 1838, and Three Visits to Madagascar, London, 1858; Bocage, Madagascar, possession française depuis 1642, Paris, 1859, Pfeiffer, Reise nach Madagascar, 2 vols., Vienna, 1861; MacLeod, Madagascar and its People, London, 1865; Mears, The Story of Madagascar, Philadelphia, 1873; Mullens, Twelve Months in Madagascar, London, 1875; Grandidier, Histoire physique, naturelle et politique de Madagascar, Paris, 1876; Oliver, Madagascar and the Malagasy, London, 1866; Sibree, Madagascar and its People, London, 1870; Südafrika und Madagascar, 3d ed., Leipzig, 1874.


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