to Mr. Welsh.
Washington, April 2, 1879.
Sir: Referring to your dispatches, Nos. 242 and 245, of the 8th and 18th ultimo respectively, in relation to the recent orders of Her Britannic Majesty’s privy council restricting the importation into Great Britain [Page 424] of live cattle shipped from the United States, and to the previous correspondence on that subject, I now transmit to you a copy of a communication which I have recently received from a number of well-known citizens of the United States, all of whom, no less than the important corporation and companies which they represent, are deeply interested in the question under consideration.
In your note of the 28th of February last to Lord Salisbury, a copy of which forms one of the inclosures to your dispatch No. 245, you correctly foreshadow the results which must follow from the continuance and enforcement of the order of Her Majesty’s privy council of the 10th of February, 1879, subjecting’ live cattle entering the ports of Great Britain to immediate slaughter.
Under the rigid conditions of that order, it will, as you observe, bring to an end the live-cattle trade between the United States and Great Britain. Such a result will of necessity, in the first place, compel the great cattle-herders of the West to seek other markets, other outlets not yet discovered, for the products of this industry, which, if found, as they doubtless would be, even though turning out to be less profitable, they may be slow to abandon for a resumption of British markets, presenting so much uncertainty and risk from the possibility of restrictive regulations, which may at any time be renewed without a moment’s notice, and when cargoes of great value may be in transit on the ocean.
Again, the main lines of railroad from the Missouri River to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston are seriously affected by any unnecessary interruption in this important traffic, and the interest of the transatlantic steamers, chiefly British bottoms, in which the cattle are transported directly to England, is one that cannot well be lost sight of in any calm consideration of the subject.
The pertinency of these observations is at once apparent from a glance at the rapid growth of the cattle-export trade of the United States and the magnitude which it has already attained. In 1871 the export of cattle on the hoof from the United States to all countries amounted in value to only $403,491, while for the year 1878 the same export to all countries reached in value $3,896,818; and of this export in 1878, the proportion shipped to Great Britain was in value $2,408,843, while in fresh beef or slaughtered cattle, the export of which from the United States maybe said to have commenced in 1874, the value of that article exported to Great Britain in that year was almost nominal, being only $12,661. The export of the same article in 1878 foots up a total to all countries of $5,009,856, the proportion to Great Britain being $4,966,152. With the almost limitless capacity for cattle-raising now available in the vast regions of otherwise unoccupied pasture lands west of the Mississippi River and north of the 37th degree of north latitude, the increase of the business in the immediate future cannot well be estimated, nor can its economic interests to the working classes of Great Britain have wholly escaped the attention of Her Majesty’s Government.
In connection with the explanations which you were instructed to lay before Lord Salisbury regarding the few cattle of the cargo of the Ontario, you may properly and opportunely bring to his lordship’s attention the fact that subsequent to the arrival of the Ontario at Liverpool, which occurred in January, and up to the date of your note of the 18th of March, no less than six ocean steamers had arrived at Liverpool from the United States with cargoes of cattle on the hoof, all of which were found, upon the most rigid examination, by the officers of Her Majesty’s privy council, to be entirely free from pleura-pneumonia or other disease, and were landed in a perfectly healthy condition, although transported [Page 425] from the United States to the seaboard and thence across the Atlantic during the severe winter months. This circumstance of itself goes far to show that the disease now creating so much anxiety, not unmixed with alarm, in Great Britain (pleuro-pneumonia), so far as it may have been found to exist at all in the United States is sporadic in its character, and is not found in any part of the country to have assumed the form of a cattle-plague or epidemic. Indeed, as in the case of the few head found to be infected among the cargo of the Ontario, the rare and exceptional cases of that disease developed during the past winter among the cattle of the United States may be traced immediately to the exposure and the want of care, and irregularity in supplying them food and water while in transit.
The season has been unusually severe, and remarkable for heavy snow-falls all over the Northern, Middle, and Western States, and extending as far south as the States of Mississippi and Alabama; and the consequent delay of heavy freight-trains on the great east and west lines of railroad over which cattle are shipped rendered this partial neglect in a great measure unavoidable.
In like manner, the reports which found their way into the newspapers of this capital and also of New York during the autumn of 1878, in regard to the then alleged prevalence of the disease similar to the rinderpest among the cows in the District of Columbia, and portions of the States of Maryland and Virginia, and which formed the subject of a note of the 16th of January last from Sir Edward Thornton to this department, were found, upon careful inquiry by experts, at the instance and under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, to be almost, if not wholly, destitute of foundation.
While occasionally there might be found at that time, as there may be found at any time, a diseased cow on a plantation in the region referred to, no such disease as the rinderpest or any kindred malady was found to exist among either milch cows or those being fed for the market.
None is known to exist now, although careful scrutiny is still being exercised. The report itself, when traced to its original source, was discovered to have emanated from a superserviceable and interested individual who sells milk in Washington and possesses some small dairy farms in Virginia, in the neighborhood of this capital, and who, from motives that are but too obvious, desired to impress milk-consumers with the belief that all milch cows in the localities referred to, outside of his own domain, were infected with rinderpest, or some other mortal disease, which rendered the use of their milk deleterious to the public health.
Upon a careful perusal of the correspondence between Lord Salisbury and yourself, transmitted in your dispatch of the 18th ultimo, as well as that which has taken place between the Department and the British legation at this capital, I am impelled to the belief that a very great degree of misapprehension on the subject prevails in. the public mind of Great Britain, and that such misapprehension is to a less extent shared by the officers charged by Her Majesty’s privy council with the delicate but arduous duties of the inspection of American cattle on their arrival in British ports.
In the hope of at least in part removing this apprehension, I submit for your own information, and such use as you may find it necessary and convenient in the course of your further discussion of this important question to make of them, a few facts. These facts, I may add, without even a seeming reflection on British intelligence, while they are perfectly [Page 426] familiar to the government and people of the United States, cannot reasonably be expected to be equally well known in England.
In the first place, it may be stated with the nearest possible approach to correctness that among the live cattle shipped from the United States to Great Britain few or none are raised for or prepared for market east of the Mississippi River.
The cattle raised and fed in the State of the Ohio Valley and in the Northwestern States bordering on the great lakes, find a ready home market in the cities and large towns in the immediate neighborhood of their feeding, and in the New England States, where cattle-feeding cannot be profitably pursued, and are found, it is believed, insufficient for this home demand.
The cities of Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and others of only less importance, furnish more than a sufficient market for all the cattle fed in the States referred to, and it is a well known fact that the State of New York, vast and fertile as it is in area, does not find it profitable to raise beef in sufficient quantities for the supply of the people of that State. So with equal accuracy it may be alleged that the cattle destined for foreign markets, including the market of Great Britain, which is sure not only to be the principal of these but greater in its demand than all other countries together, are fed and prepared for exportation in the States and Territories of the republic north of the 36th degree of north latitude, and west of the Mississippi River, embracing the States of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado and the Territories of Wyoming, Montana, and Southern Dakota, the prairies and river valleys of which are noted as furnishing the richest and most healthy pasture lands of the world. It is under these exceptionally favorable conditions that the American cattle trade has so suddenly reached its present almost marvelous proportions, and yet the enterprise may be said to be but in the infancy of its development, for the vast plains of Northern Dakota (through which the Northern Pacific Railroad is projected and partly constructed), reaching west to the Red River Valley, as yet untouched, are known to offer even greater inducements to the herdsman than the lands already occupied.
It would seem needless to argue that cattle fed under such conditions, with unbounded range of pasture, pure air, and running water from the streams fed by the mountain snows, must as a rule be healthy and much less liable to contagious disease than those prepared for market in close pastures or stall-fed. Moreover, the facilities for introducing and enforcing sanitary measures are greatly increased. If a disease makes its appearance in a herd, the herd can be at once assorted and separated by such a distance as will tend to prevent its spread; the infected cattle can be at once slaughtered, as they would be, for no one knows better than the herdsman that such present sacrifice is most likely to secure him ultimately against more serious pecuniary loss.
A few words are also necessary to bring fully to your attention the precautionary measures which have already been adopted in the different sections of the Union, under the authority of the Federal and the different State governments, and in some instances under city municipal regulations.
Leavenworth, Kans., and Omaha, Nebr., are the two great entrepots at which the cattle for exportation are first received by the great railroad transportation lines, those shipped at Leavenworth coming from Kansas and Colorado, and at Omaha from Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and Southern Dakota; at each of these two shipping points, Leavenworth and Omaha, there has been established an inspection, provided [Page 427] for under the laws, respectively, of Kansas and Nebraska, and no cattle infected with pleuro-pneumonia or other disease are permitted to be forwarded thence to Chicago, while at the latter city, under the regulations of its board of health and the municipal authorities, these cattle again undergo inspection before being shipped for the port of embarkation at the seaboard. With the arrangements made for inspection at New York, Philadelphia, and other Atlantic ports by the Secretary of the Treasury, you are already familiar. With such precautionary measures, enforced with a reasonable degree of faithfulness and energy, as I have no doubt they are (for it is not the interest of the exporter to send to market even a doubtful article), it is quite improbable that any cattle can leave the ports of the United States that are not free from contagious or other disease.
The question is one of great interest to the citizens and Government of the United States, and, it is believed, not devoid of interest to Her Majesty’s subjects in Great Britain.
In the discussion of it with the Marquis of Salisbury you have exhibited commendable discretion and prudence, and your course meets with the unqualified approval of the Department. Guided by the suggestions of this instruction so far as you may deem, it essential to avail yourself of them, it is desired that you will take the earliest opportunity of representing to Lord Salisbury the earnest desire of the President that Her Majesty’s Government may see the importance and propriety of revoking the order of the 10th of February last, subjecting live cattle from this country to immediate slaughter at the port of arrival, thus removing the present serious interruption to the great element of commerce between the United States and Great Britain, and in which the people of both countries feel so deep an interest.
I am, &c.,