to Mr. Evarts.
Paris, February 26, 1881. (Received March 12.)
Sir: Referring to the telegraphic correspondence, which has passed between the State Department and this legation, upon the subject of a decree of the French Government prohibiting the importation into France of American pork, I have the honor to inclose herewith—
- The report of Mr. Tirard, minister of agriculture and commerce, and the decree of the President in French.
- Translation of the report and decree.
- Copies of telegrams from and to State Department on the subject.
- Copies of my dispatches, to the minister for foreign affairs of the French Republic.
In addition to the information communicated by these documents, I have the honor to report that immediately upon the promulgation of the decree, February 19, 1881, I took measures to acquaint myself with the facts and circumstances which led to this summary action, more fully, if possible, than appeared in the report of Mr. Tirard.
On Sunday morning, the 20th instant, I received your telegram, and the same day, addressed to the minister for foreign affairs, the communication expressing, by your authority, the regrets of my government. On Monday, the 21st, and Tuesday, the 22d, I had interviews with Mr. Barthélemy St. Hilaire, and on Wednesday, the 23d, by appointment, with Mr. Tirard, minister of agriculture and commerce, I was informed by both these ministers, that the necessity for the decree was found in the fact that numerous inspections of American pork had recently been made by most competent scientific men; that the meat was taken at a random, from many different packages, or consignments, and that all, or nearly all, was found to be infected with trichinæ that in the estimation of the Government of the French Republic, the preservation of life and health was a matter more important and imperative than any consideration of trade and commerce; that the resolution of the government had only been taken after full investigation, mature reflection, and great pressure of public opinion; that the decree, while it undoubtedly affected injuriously American commerce, was not less severe and appreciable to the French traders and population, as American pork entered largely into the daily consumption of a great number of the poorer classes of Frenchmen; that the maintenance of the decree would depend upon the necessity, and that it would be revoked as soon as the occasion for it had disappeared, or had become so rare as to warrant its recall.
I assured the ministers referred to that I was incapable of urging or suggesting any action on the part of the French Government, which would imperil life, or the public health; that I fully appreciated all which had been said upon that subject; but I ventured to suggest, that among fifteen millions of my countrymen very little meat was consumed, other than American pork; that among that great number of persons this constituted a part of their daily food; that among thirty-five millions more of our population pork was eaten interchangeably with other meats, and that no danger to life or health had resulted from such consumption and use. I also cited England, where a vast amont of American pork is used, and where no disastrous effects have followed. I represented that it was inconceivable to my government, that different and dangerous consequences could follow its consumption in France. I corrected the statement contained in the report of Mr. Tirard, as to the prohibition of importation of such meats into Germany, Austria, and Spain, on the authority of our ministers in those countries. I represented the magnitude of the interest involved; the disastrous consequences which would follow the continued operation of the decree, and in the name of my government asked for its revocation, or suspension, until such time as the subject could receive a fuller and more searching investigation.
I inquired if any actual cases of sickness or death, resulting from the use of American pork in France had been officially reported. I [Page 398]was answered that while no certain case could be cited, there were numerous cases where it was believed, or suspected, to have been influential in producing said results. I said that I would venture to affirm that no case could be found, in France or elsewhere, in which death or illness had resulted from the use of American pork well cooked, even if infected as claimed. I also said that this disease was not confined to American pork, but was far more common in France and Germany, by reason of the inferior and less healthful substances upon which the hogs of those countries were fed and fattened.
I called attention to the fact that this decree had been published without notice, and that it became immediately operative; that American pork, to the value of many millions of francs, had arrived in France, and was awaiting delivery, or was on the sea in transitu; that bills on account of payment for these consignments had been drawn and discounted, and that these drafts would be continually arriving in Paris, would be protested and would cause financial ruin to many who had acted in good faith, and who had made their shipments without notice of this decree, or the facts upon which it purports to be based.
The minister of agriculture and commerce finally assured me that all pork which had been shipped from America prior to the publication of the decree, should be admitted into French ports, and delivered to consignees, subject only to inspection, and the condemnation of such meat as might be found diseased. He also informed me that the government would diligently seek for expedients, in order to be able to abrogate the decree, without putting in jeopardy life and health.
In my interviews with both these ministers, I found them not unkindly disposed, and their assurances were frank and conciliatory. While no promise was made by either, the impression I gained was, that at no distant day, the decree would be revoked, and some thorough system of inspection substituted therefor. To this end I have utilized all possible influences, and shall continue to do so. I hope for favorable results.
I have, &c.,