Mr. Oscar Malmros to Mr. Davis.
Sir: I am in receipt of reliable information from various parts of Cape Breton Island, that a very large majority of our fishing vessels now in the waters near that island, and on the fishing grounds north of it, are about to return to our own shores, principally, although not solely, on account of the very strict and literal construction, and not less strict enforcement, of the provisions of the treaty of 1818, and the Canadian in-shore fishery laws. The action of the Dominion government in this respect being calculated to annoy and harass our fishermen without benefiting, if not seriously injuring, the interests of the people of the maritime, provinces, seems to confirm the declaration often made by members of the confederate party, referred to in my dispatch No. 9, that their government intends to retaliate for an alleged illiberal commercial policy on the part of our Government; in other words, that they mean to coerce the United States into a reduction of duties on Dominion goods.
Assuming this to be the case, it may be deserving of serious consideration, whether the interests and dignity of the United States would not be best consulted by not merely abstaining from any change of our duties, which may have been intended, in favor of the Dominion of Canada, but also by the withdrawal of such privileges as have heretofore been extended to that country by our Government. As reflecting public sentiment in this consular district on the fishery question, I beg to call the attention of the Department to an article headed “Protection of the fisheries,” on page 2 of the “Easton Chronicle,” of the 25th instant, a copy of which I herewith transmit.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
[Inclosure not sent.]