To the diplomatic and consular officers of the United
States in Spanish American States and Brazil.
Washington, July—, 1877.
Sir: Under the provisions of section 208, Revised Statutes, and of paragraphs 380, 381, and 382 of the Consular Regulations, the representatives of the United States in foreign countries are instructed to transmit to the Department such commercial information and statistics as they respectively obtain, in order to enable the Secretary of State to prepare the annual reports upon the “Commercial Relations of the United States,” which the laws authorize him to make.
Besides the general information thus to be compiled there is another and more specific line of inquiry to which the Department now desires to invite your attention.
It is believed that the period has now arrived when it would be wise for all the nations of this continent to consider more carefully than heretofore how they may best enlarge their trade with each other. Their geographical position and the resemblance between their political institutions facilitate the cultivation of such commerce. The United States are in a condition to supply cheaply and easily many products and manufactured articles, suitable to their wants, to all or nearly all of the Spanish American republics, as well as the Empire of Brazil, receiving in return natural products, which can be utilized here. A favorable opportunity for the development of such trade would seem to be now offered by the prevailing stagnation of business and depression of prices. It is desirable, of course, for the United States that they should find markets for the export of their products and manufactures, and, on the other hand, it is advantageous to the people of those countries they should be able to purchase at the present decreased valuation.
Apart from questions of merely commercial or pecuniary advantage, the development of such trade would have also a beneficial influence upon the political condition of the republics of this continent. It is for the interest both of North and South America that all those republican governments should have stability, peace, law, and order. It is not unreasonable to believe that when the popular energy now wasted upon schemes of revolution or military aggrandizement shall have been turned toward more peaceful and profitable enterprises, the republican form of government in each and all of those countries will thereby be strengthened, and more harmonious relations will prevail between them.
In view of these considerations, it is desired by the Department that its diplomatic and consular officers should devote attention to the question of methods by which trade with the United States can be most judiciously fostered. Without seeking to interfere with any commercial operations or enterprises that may now be in existence, it is nevertheless deemed highly probable that you may be able, by examination and inquiry, to point out branches of trade with ———, in which the [Page 2] United States may properly and usefully share. You are instructed, therefore, to make such examination at your convenience and to advise the Department, when suitable occasions shall offer, as to the demand for different kinds of manufactured articles now used in —— —, their nature and prices, and whether they are of the character which it is probable the industry of the United States can supply. Also as to the products of —— —, in which the trade with the United States could be increased, either by legislation, or executive action, or by commercial enterprise.
The inquiry here suggested should not be hastily made, nor is it expected that it will be rapidly accomplished. It is rather the purpose of the Department that it should be continuous, and that you may from time to time communicate to the government such information as you may from time to time acquire in this direction in order that it may be laid before Congress and the general public.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,