to Mr. Evarts.
Copenhagen , May 27, 1879. (Received June 11.)
Sir: A member of the Danish Rigsdag, in a speech recently delivered in that body, advanced the idea of a general European tariff-league for the protection of their agricultural interests as against those of the United States, as well as of levying differential duties on American products. This idea has been reported to the Hamburger Nachrichten,—a widely circulating paper,—which (paper) states that that idea finds a favorable consideration among the agricultural and manufacturing classes of Germany.[Page 308]
This is only one of the methods suggested to prevent American agricultural and industrial products from successfully competing in the world’s market with those of European countries. Judging from the tone of a large portion of the European press, as well as from the casual expressions of European agriculturists, manufacturers, and merchants, it is evident that the latter feel an apprehension that the United States will yet outstrip them in the race for agricultural, industrial, and commercial supremacy. Here in Denmark I have heard many complaints from estate holders, farmers, and manufacturers that American products are already underselling their own, and are, on account of both their cheapness and their superior quality, gradually driving theirs from the market. This is especially the case with regard to bacon, butter, cheese, oils, cotton and woolen fabrics, to say nothing of several kinds of cereals, corn, petroleum, agricultural machines and implements, mechanics’tools, and other articles of hardware. Even American watches are now being imported, they being cheaper and in every respect of as good a quality as the celebrated Jtirgensen Urban watches manufactured in this city.
As leather and ready-made boots and shoes command a high price here, I see no reason why these articles, especially ready-made boots and shoes, might not find a profitable market in Denmark, the materials and facilities for manufacturing them are so much better in the United States than here.
Another thing, I have been credibly informed that adulterated cotton-fabrics manufactured in England are sold here as “American goods,” the latter having heretofore enjoyed the reputation of possessing superior qualities, and thus injure their well-earned reputation. As an illustration of the superior qualities of American cotton fabrics over those of English make, I may mention the fact that the secretary of the British legation in this city told me recently that the inhabitants, native and European, of the British colonies in South Africa show a decided preference for American cotton fabrics, for the reason that their quality is superior to that of articles of the same class manufactured in England. It is a matter for congratulation that American goods of every description enjoy, as a general thing, an excellent reputation for their good qualities. They bid fair to command the market of the world.
In view of the fact that articles of an inferior quality, manufactured abroad, are sold as “American goods,” and thus bring an unjust reproach upon them tending to drive them from the world’s markets, I take the liberty to suggest that conventions having for their object the protection of trade-marks, especially those of American goods, be concluded between the United States and those countries between which no such conventions as yet exist. By this means the reputation for excellent quality of American fabrics would, I think, be protected, if not entirely, yet, to some extent, at least.
I have, &c.,