To the diplomatic and consular officers of
the United States in Europe.
Washington , August —, 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 the nations, not only of this continent, but also of Europe, to consider more carefully than heretofore how they may best enlarge their trade with this country. The United States are in a condition to supply cheaply and easily many products and manufactured articles suitable to the wants of different countries, receiving in return natural products and articles of manufacture which can be utilized and consumed 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 other countries that they should be able to purchase at the present decreased valuation.
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 [Page 3] and inquiry, to point out branches of trade with—— —, in which the 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 occasion shall offer, as to the demand for different products and manufactured articles now used in ———, their nature and prices, whenever they are such as 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 should from time to time communicate to the government such information as it may be in your power to acquire in this direction, in order that it may be laid before Congress and the general public.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,