No. 39.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Blaine.

No. 6.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 2, and of the accompanying report, embodying the results of an examination had as to the truth or untruth of the stories that American pork was largely tainted with disease. Other copies, under separate cover, have since been received. In accordance with the wishes of the [Page 57] Department, I have taken immediate action to give the gratifying results of this examination the widest circulation. I sent to the minister of foreign affairs a communication, in which I stated the results of the Department’s investigation, and made an earnest request for an abandonment or very material modification of the oppressive measures which have been adopted in Austria-Hungary with regard to the American pork-trade.

I transmit herewith a full copy of this communication and beg leave to call the Secretary’s attention to a few considerations which influenced me in drafting it.

I deemed it wise to recall the history of my predecessor’s efforts to anticipate and prevent any action by His Majesty’s Government. This recapitulation seemed valuable, as bringing into a single paper, for the convenience of all, the whole case as it stands to-day, and still more valuable as forcing the attention of the minister to the fact that the results of the examination strangely confirmed all the representations Mr. Kasson had made of his individual knowledge and belief.

I thought this history would also show with what zeal we had labored to escape from threatened injustice, and with what patience, under confidence of final redress, we bore the injustice when inflicted. Attention was also called to the spirit, the methods, and the results of the investigation, seriatim—the value of the conclusions depending so much upon the impartial and thorough search for the facts from which they are logically deduced.

The declarations of the Department as to the spirit of fairness and impartiality in which the investigation was inaugurated, were so frank and bold that I had no hesitation in repeating this assurance in the strongest terms; and the processes of the examination were so wise, comprehensive, and searching, that it was a pleasure to call them to attention. The results I endeavored to sum briefly and clearly, and, in sending them copies of the report, challenged them to find these results other than those properly deduced from the evidence accompanying them. Nor did I neglect to call attention to the gratifying action of the Belgian and Swiss Governments—taking care, as I was without official information, to qualify the assurance in the case of Switzerland.

In conclusion I called attention again to the patience we had shown in bearing an unnecessary restriction to our trade, to the quiet energy and transparent good faith in which the investigation was conducted, and to our exhibition of entire confidence in His Majesty’s Government’s readiness to undo the wrong, so soon as convinced that its view of the facts was incorrect, by refusing, except by allusion as a necessary pleading to save future rights, to urge the unpleasant charge that the restriction complained of was a gross violation of the fifth article of our treaty of commerce of 1829.

I hope the honorable Secretary will not be displeased with the position I have taken and the manner in which I have stated it; and if he shall find that any expressions in the communication to His Majesty’s minister exhibit less than diplomatic indifference, that he will consider how inadequately they represent the impatience with which one bears restrictions upon trade so harmful and yet so needless.

I have, &c.,

[Page 58]
[Inclosure in No. 6.]

Mr. Phelps to Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the United States, as preliminary to certain requests lie has been instructed earnestly to address to the Imperial and Royal Government of Austria and Hungary, begs leave to recall to the recollection of his excellency the minister of foreign affairs certain past facts and circumstances connected with the subject, and to present certain new ones.

On the 28th day of February last, Mr. Kasson, then the representative of the United States at this court, solicited and obtained the honor of a personal interview with the imperial and royal minister of foreign affairs. He sought this interview in a laudable desire to prevent, if possible, any governmental action which should restrict or prohibit the trade in American swine-meat. There were rumors that such action was thought of, and confident, from his own knowledge of the subject, that it was unnecessary and would work injustice, he hoped, by a frank communication of his views, to bring the Austro-Hungarian Government to the same conclusion. It was important to anticipate and prevent action, for if once taken, though it were immediately revoked, it could not fail to excite suspicion and fear in the minds of ignorant consumers, and so injure the trade.

He made a memorandum of some of the points which he urged in this interview, and by request transmitted it to the ministry of foreign affairs.

A glance at that memorandum, doubtless still on its files, will show that, on personal knowledge and belief, Mr. Kasson urged that the popular outcry against American pork was the work of speculators on the two continents, who had skillfully manipulated the press for that purpose.

That for their selfish purposes, false news, even when of a kind which would be easily and directly contradicted, was of value; and cited the familiar fact that the price of American pork, which fell when the newspapers reported a French family as ill from eating American pork, remained low and did not rise upon announcement, after official examination, that the pork was not American after all, but French; that it was in Germany that Americans first heard of trichinosis; that animal and unclean food was a necessary condition of the disease, and yet in America, and in America only, was the food of the swine confined to Indian corn, the cleanest of vegetable products.

These considerations were urged by Mr. Kasson, it will be remembered, on his own knowledge and belief. On the next day his convictions were strengthened by the receipt of a telegraphic dispatch from the Secretary of State telling him that he was authorized by his government to deny the reports of disease among American hogs. This telegram—under the promptings of the zeal he had already displayed to save His Majesty’s Government from what seemed to him a needless and unjust act—he communicated immediately to the minister of foreign affairs, and included in the same communication, from information otherwise obtained, the fact that more German and Servian pork had been condemned for trichinæ than American, and that in Vienna itself hams from Westphalia had been examined and condemned for this disease.

Mr. Kasson’s hopes and efforts to avert what seemed to him an error and a wrong were in vain.

On the 10th of March the joint ministries of the interior, of commerce, and of finance signed, and on the 16th of the same month published, an ordinance which, immediately and without notice, prohibited the importation of the American hog in any form in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The prohibition was simple and direct. It gave no reason, and it included in the proscription the hog product of no other country.

Mr. Kasson immediately, on the 8th of March, forwarded to His Majesty’s minister of foreign affairs a courteous but firm protest against this action as unnecessary, invidious, and in violation of treaty obligations; unnecessary, because the cause, if as conjectured it was disease, had not been shown to exist in American pork, or if shown not shown to exist in greater degree in American than in other pork; invidious, because the ordinance, notwithstanding, excluded none other than American pork, and a violation of the obligations of the treaty of 1829, which demand that there “shall be no prohibition on imports from the United States which shall not equally extend to all other nations.”

To this protest His Majesty’s minister of foreign affairs made, on the 29th day of March, courteous reply, informing Mr. Kasson that the prohibition was on sanitary grounds, and giving reasons why, in the judgment of his excellency, it was not considered by His Majesty’s government any infraction of the treaty.

To the American Government this reply was unsatisfactory, as it assumed the fact of disease in American pork which the American Government did not believe to be a fact; ignored the fact, which seemed to be fairly proven, that the disease did exist in other pork, and offered as reasons why the exclusive prohibition of American pork was not in contravention of the treaty, only considerations grounded on these disputed facts as premises.

[Page 59]

And yet the Government of the United States submitted in silence, and since the ordinance, the protest, and the reply, neither Mr. Kasson nor his successors in this legation have, by oral or written applications, vexed His Majesty’s government with applications for reconsideration and redress.

To save annoyance to His Majesty’s government, and in reliance on its good faith and its cordial desire to do no harm to a friendly country, the American legation preferred to await the result of an investigation which the Department of State had ordered to be made concerning the truth or untruth of the alarming rumors which have prevailed of late as to the alleged unwholesomeness of the pork products shipped to foreign countries from the United States.

This investigation is now finished, and the results of it have been sent to this legation. The results so fully confirm all that Mr. Kasson claimed in the premises that the undersigned deems it his duty to lay them immediately before his excellency, and to ask for them that prompt consideration their importance demands.

It may be proper, before submitting these results, to call your excellency’s attention to the spirit in which the investigation was inaugurated and the method and processes of its conduct.

The officer in charge was instructed “to make a searching and impartial investigation,” and the Secretary of State affirms “that the investigation was undertaken in the most impartial spirit, and in full recognition of the weighty responsibility which rested upon the government.” Could more be said for the spirit in which the work was begun?

The methods adopted to complete it were such as were best calculated to obtain the sole object of the examination—discovery of the truth.

The examination was in public, in a country where the newspapers report everything and everybody reads the newspapers, and the subject of examination was a branch of trade so general and important as to attract the attention of all.

The examination was comprehensive, not restricted or local. It did not confine itself to a single city nor to the witnesses that could be brought to a single hall. It went forth and sought its witnesses everywhere that no restrictions of person or place might narrow and color its discoveries. It sought those engaged in the different branches of trade and so conspicuous in it, that they knew their words would be read by hundreds of rivals and thousands of employés whose personal knowledge would, on the spot, convict them of any attempt at concealment, prevarication, or falsehood. But not to those who raised swine, to those who slaughtered them, to those who packed them, to those who forwarded them was the examination confined. It was not limited to those of whom it could be said “They are in the trade and sordidly interested.” Guardians of the public health, officers in chambers of commerce and boards of trade, high officials in railway management, economists and scientists of high reputation voluntarily, or by request, contributed their knowledge and experience to this exhaustive investigation.

In considering the conditions under which it was held your excellency cannot attach too much importance to this consideration. The market value of the staple must rise or fall with the nature of the evidence given. Many of those who gave the evidence were in a position where some would gain by a rise and some by a fall in the price, and yet, in the bright light of the publicity, where workmen, clerks, partners, and rivals were to hear each word, none dared to tell anything except the truth, and the truth all pointed to the same conclusion: The strange exemption of the American full-grown and marketable hog from disease.

Having called his excellency’s attention to the methods of the investigation the undersigned begs briefly to sum the results.

The swine in America is fed on Indian corn or maize, the cleanest of vegetable products.

American swine are not more liable to disease than European.

That diseased hogs cannot pass the inspection preliminary to slaughter, or if this is possible, hog-meat cannot pass even the most careless inspection.

That merchantable lard cannot be produced from diseased animals.

That Chicago and Cincinnati—the great pork-consuming centers—are free from trichinosis.

That in all reported cases of human suffering it has been found that the pork was eaten uncooked.

That the hogs selected for the foreign market are equal to those selected for the home market.

That the rumors of great disease in American swine came from the confused use of the words “hog” and “pig.” A hog is a grown swine ready for market. A pig is a young, ungrown swine, not of age for the market. And it is among young swine, that is, among pigs, that the larger proportion of deaths by disease occur.

As the investigation was public, so are the facts elicited by it and the conclusions derived from them—public for the purpose of challenging the widest criticism. The American Goverment has published them in pamphlet form and desires to secure for [Page 60] them a large circulation. The undersigned has the honor to transmit herewith four copies of this pamphlet, and begs your excellency’s careful attention to the contents. He would be gratified if he might trouble his excellency to make such disposition of the extra copies as will the more speedily bring them to the attention of those officers or ministers peculiarly interested in the subject.

Before addressing the request, which would naturally follow this presentation of the subject, the undersigned has the honor to suggest that if any doubt remain as to the value and truth of the results obtained by this investigation, it should not be forgotten that they are confirmed by the action of the Belgian Government. This government, disregarding popular clamor and unscientific prejudice, examined the question fairly upon its merits and reached the conclusions to which the American Government was irresistibly led, that, of the widely-spread food staples of the world’s commerce, none is grown, packed, and exported under conditions better calculated to assure safety and wholesomeness than the pork product of America.

Nor will his excellency have failed to notice that Viennese journals report that the Swiss Government has followed the example of Belgium in removing all restrictions upon the importation of American pork.

In conclusion, the undersigned hopes his excellency will find ample apology for the length of this communication in the importance of the subject, one that concerns an important branch of American trade, and a restriction which his government believes to be unjust, invidious, and in violation of the treaty of commerce so long existing between the two nations; and he begs leave to inform his excellency that he is instructed by his government to bring these facts earnestly to the attention of the Austro-Hungarian Government, and to ask, in view of them, an abandonment or very material modification of the oppressive measures which have been adopted by His Majesty’s government in regard to the American pork trade. He is further instructed by the honorable Secretary of State to say that the entire good faith with which this investigation has been conducted warrants the American Government in expecting that the government of His Imperial and Royal Majesty will accept and act upon the results in equal good faith.

The undersigned ventures to hope that in the consideration of this request your excellency will have in mind the patience with which a restriction—seeming to the American Government so unnecessary and unjust—has been borne; the promptitude, thoroughness, and good faith in which it put itself to the task of gathering arguments which should convince others of a needlessness and injustice, so patent to itself, and that in reliance upon the disposition of His Majesty’s government to instantly remove a restriction which seemed unfriendly and harsh, so soon as convinced that it was unnecessary, it has avoided any allusion, except in the protest (where mention was made of it, that the right to plead it might not be lost), to the view the American Government believes it might take of a restriction which singles out an important product which America shall not import into Austria-Hungary, but all other countries may, as a plain and palpable violation of the treaty of 1829, and bearing these evidences of American patience, faith, and good-will in mind, that your excellency will be pleased to give this matter prompt attention.

The undersigned takes this opportunity to express to his excellency the imperial and royal minister of foreign affairs his most distinguished consideration.