Mr. Donnan to Mr. Seward.
Belfast, October 30, 1877. (Received November 14.)
Sir: Your dispatch marked “Separate,” of date August 16 last, was duly received by me on the 29th of that month, and its receipt acknowledged on the same day.
It is well known to the Department that linen goods are largely manufactured in Belfast and in other portions of this consular district, and that these goods are largely exported to the United States. This climate appears to be peculiarly adapted to the growth of flax, out of which linen is produced. The climate is an exceedingly wet one, and this aids greatly to the benefit of those engaged in bleaching the linens after they have been manufactured. In many conversations which I have had at various times with those engaged in the production of linen goods, they have all expressed the hope that our government would, before long, see its way clear to reduce the import duties on linen fabrics. Now, as our people do not manufacture linens, it does appear to me that it would be judicious if our government could make a reduction. If it could do so I firmly believe that the government would add to its revenues considerably, and this relaxation on our part would tend to cause the people of this part of Ireland to import largely of our agricultural implements and of our other manufactures.
The principal productions of our country imported into this part of Ireland are wheat, Indian corn, petroleum, cheese, apples, canned fruits of various kinds, plows, stoves, sewing-machines, canned vegetables of various kinds, and bacon, and some beef. I am of opinion that if our manufacturers would combine and send to this country suitable representatives, they might, after a time, increase to a considerable extent the demand for our various manufactures. I need not add, scarcely, that all such representatives would receive from me all the aid I could give them.
Nearly all of the large exporting manufacturers here have branch [Page 86]houses in either New York, Philadelphia, or Boston. Why may not some of our enterprising manufacturers do the same here?
Trusting, sir, that what I have written may be useful to our people,
I am, &c.,