No. 129.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen .

No. 333.]

Sir: Acting under the strange delusion which still exists in official circles, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that American pork is subject to trichinosis, the French department of [Page 266] commerce is contemplating the organization of a system of curative measures to guard against the supposed infection by submitting all our salted meats to a freezing process upon their entry into France. Whether this new device would or would not destroy trichinosis where it happens to exist, it has dissatisfied all the French importers and dealers in American hog produce, who consider it as calculated to greatly injure the meat, and have protested in strong language against its application. You will find herewith a copy and translation of the petition they have addressed in this respect to the minister of commerce.

One of the leaders in this movement informs me that all interested in this business prefer simple prohibition to the apparent facilities offered by the application of the freezing process. It is the intention of the French dealers to push this matter as strongly as possible and to bring it before a cabinet meeting.

I again, a few days ago, called the attention of Mr. Challemel Lacour to this subject, and I am sorry to say that although he is personally in favor of the repeal of the decree of prohibition, and has urged it, he does not believe that his colleague will favor, at present, its abrogation. His reasons are that other countries have taken similar measures of prohibition, and that French scientists are divided upon the question of the danger which may result from the consumption of American meats.

I did not conceal from Mr. Challemel Lacour the fact that the continuance of this long-standing prohibition had already created much feeling at home, and that our people could not understand why such discrimination should be made against them, when the highest French scientific authorities had emphatically declared that the measure was groundless, and my apprehension that Congress would take some retaliatory action unless the decree was abrogated.

Mr. Challemel Lacour said he would again call the attention of his colleague to the matter.

The truth is, that the decree was rendered under the pressure of certain French packers who are still interested in its maintenance. By a strange coincidence, these very men, who are also producers of sardines and other canned articles, have been specially favored by our new tariff. * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 333.—Translation.]

petition addressed to the minister of commerce by french importers of american hog products.

To the Minister of Commerce, Paris:

Monsieur le Ministre: We, the undersigned merchants in American salted meats and lard at Bordeaux, have the honor to solicit your favor, Monsieur le Ministre, for the fulfillment of the promises which have been so often made to us in claiming the abolition of the decree of the 18th of February, 1881.

The solution of this question can be no longer delayed; light has been brought to bear on it, and our port should be opened to the free importation of these provisions, indispensable to the nourishment of the poor classes, and the absence of which has already caused an increase of price, so hard for the nourishment of workmen.

The spontaneous and disinterested petition which has just been made to you, M. le Ministre, by the presidents and delegates of the Chambers of Commerce of Paris, Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Havre, lead us to hope that the just claims, made in such pressing terms by the most important personages of French trade, should have immediately [Page 267] brought about the withdrawal purely and simply of the prohibitive decree, and that yon would have thus put an end to a state of things so fatal to the industrial and commercial interests of the country.

But, if you contemplate acceding to these just demands, we learn with surprise that you are about to consider a project which will consist in submitting salted provisions on their entry into France to a system of refrigeration, against the adoption of which we protest with the utmost energy.

We know that for several years past a patent has been taken out for the preservation of provisions by freezing, that the owners of this patent have been seeking means to utilize it, but apparently without success, since at present they rush to find for it a lucrative employment and easy profits in having it adopted by the Government.

The application of this system would be disastrous, and would completely damage the trade; in fact, M. le Ministre, the numerous manipulations which the provisions would undergo in order to be submitted to the influence of the cold, the unpacking of the barrels, the hanging on the ladders intending to facilitate the storage, the repacking, &c., would give rise to such expenditures, such damage and deprecation of qualities that it would be foolish on the part of serious business men to expose themselves to such risks.

To these inconveniences, which are more than sufficient to cause the rejection of such a project, we should add that it appears to us impossible that provisions submitted to the action of the cold and to a high temperature can be preserved, and we maintain this statement notwithstanding the laboratory experiments on a single ham. This trade would then be exposed to so many risks and hazards that there would be no security to engage in it.

Of all the means proposed, refrigeration is that which we most energetically reject; but if the greater part of the others present inconveniences almost as serious, one only has been put to the test, that is, the free circulation, which for twenty years has never given rise to a single complaint or caused a single accident.

The return then to the common right is then the solution which we solicit from your justice, M. le Ministre, as compensation for the harm done by the decree of the 18th of February, and we claim it not only in the name of our trade but in the name of public interest.

In fact, M. le Ministre, this unfortunate measure has had the effect of provoking in the American press violent and unjust attacks against alimentary produce exported by France to the United States, attacks, which, if continued, would end by throwing disfavor on such produce and driving it from this vast market.

Moreover, the reprisals with which the Government of the United States has not ceased to menace the French trade have received commencement of execution in the rise of the entry duties imposed on our wines, which is of a nature to considerably reduce the sale.

We, then, who have always foreseen such consequences from the decree of the 18th of February, and that in spite of interested denials, do not hesitate to affirm that refrigeration can never be considered as a compensating measure (since it will have all the effects of prohibition), but rather as an indirect means calculated to perpetuate it, and that our Government can never succeed by such a proceeding in overcoming the obstacles which the new tariff has just raised against our produce.

We know sufficiently well all the interest you take in the national trade to be convinced that you will take into consideration the remarks which we have the honor to place before you, and that you will favorably receive our petition.

We beg you, &c.,