to Mr. Noyes.
Washington, June 8, 1881.
Sir,: Your late dispatches have amply shown your earnestness in carrying out my instructions in the sense of endeavoring to dispel, the strange misapprehensions which seem to have possessed the mind of the French Government respecting the sanitary character of American exportations of cured and packed pork. On the other hand I have lost no fitting opportunity of fortifying your position by such instructions, by mail and telegraph, as seemed called for by the singular course of French legislation in practically prohibiting imports of this class into France, and by the unfounded and ascertainedly erroneous statements made in high places even, touching the alleged noxious character of American hog-products.
From the outset, all the facts accessible to its closest scrutiny, convinced this government that the action of that of France in this respect was both mistaken and wrongful. But, not satisfied with this patent knowledge, it lost no time in instituting a most searching investigation for the ascertainment of the truth or falsity of the state of things alleged to exist in this country, and upon which the decrees of the French Government restrictive of importations of pork purported to rest. The result of its investigation is now set before you in the accompanying report of the officer detailed by this Department for the purpose.
It is superfluous to add argument to the cogent statement of facts now made. Their presentation in this manner and supported by strong documentary evidence, satisfies this Department of the entire justice of the ground it has heretofore taken in denying and causing to be denied, the truth of the malicious rumors to which authoritative currency has been given in foreign countries.
The Government of the United States will yield to none in its earnest [Page 412] desire to accomplish all which legislation or executive action can do to protect the public health. Had the result of its preliminary or later and more searching investigations given even the slightest color to the wild statements that American pork was a means of disseminating disease and death at home and abroad, no admission would have been too frank, and no restrictive measures within the power of this government too urgent to expose and check the evil. Its duty to foreign countries in matters of sanitary precaution is no less a subject of jealous concern than its corresponding duty to its own citizens. And, on the other hand, it is equally its duty and grave responsibility to watch over the interests of its producers and exporters when their industries are paralyzed by false reports and popular alarm, touching the supposed injuriousness of their products to the public health.
This responsibility becomes still more grave when a friendly foreign state unwittingly or mistakenly lends its powerful aid to the spreading of a spirit of distrust so directly and well nigh irremediably disastrous in its effects upon legitimate and long-established trade, as has been the action of the Government of France.
You will at once communicate copies of the inclosed report to Mr. Barthélemy St. Hilaire, with such observations of your own as may tend in your judgment to emphasize and confirm its full refutation of the injurious statements concerning the existence of communicable disease and parasitic germs in American pork, under conditions noxious to public health. You will say that this government expects from that of France, no less careful and earnest disposition to accept the truth of the matter in an impartial spirit than has been shown here; that the evidence so diligently sought and now formally presented, is regarded as convincing proof that exaggeration and misstatement, often from interested sources, have been only too successfully combined with popular ignorance and apprehension to the injury of one of the greatest and most wholesome branches of the export trade of this country; and that we deem ourselves rightfully entitled to a prompt and effectual modification of the attitude which the French Government has assumed with respect to this class of exports from the United States. You will advert to the unfortunate effect which the course of the French Government has had in influencing the action of other European Governments; and will intimate our just expectation that the example of France in correcting the error will be no less signal. And you will especially acquaint the minister of foreign affairs of France with the deep regret which the Government of the United States would feel if its honest and frank remonstrances, backed as they now are by irrefragable facts, should fail to induce the French Government to rescind its prohibitory action and so constrain a resort to the painful expedient of retaliatory measures on staple exports from France.
You may read this instruction in your discretion to Mr. Barthélemy St. Hilaire, and should he so desire, you may give him a copy of it.
I am, &c.,