No. 144.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 425.]

Sir: Having had recent conversations with the President, the president of the council, and other members of the cabinet with reference to the decree prohibiting the importation of American salted meats, I deemed the present a fitting time to address another dispatch to the minister of foreign affairs, restating the reasons why my Government had expected for a long time the withdrawal of this decree, and asking the early and earnest consideration of the question by the French Government.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of my communication, which I hope will meet the approval of the Department.

I have, &c.,

[Page 284]
[Inclosure in No. 425.]

Mr. Morton to Mr. Challemel Lacour.

Sir: I beg leave to call again your excellency’s attention to the subject-matter of my note of March 23, 1883, representing the injustice of the long standing decree prohibiting the importation of American salted meats.

The conversations I have had the honor to hold with your excellency and other members of the cabinet in relation to the decree had led me to believe that it would have been repealed long ago. I regret to say that it is still in force, and I must add that I fail to see upon what ground a measure so prejudicial to the true interests of two great countries so friendly allied as France and the United States are is so persistently retained.

The present minister of commerce believes it uncalled for. His predecessor openly advocated its repeal in the Senate; the constitutional head of the Government, the president of the council, has publicly declared that he disapproves of it; your excellency opposed it in the Senate chamber. The House of Deputies expressed itself unequivocally in favor of its repeal, and the Senate, while declining by a bare majority to interfere in the matter, left the Government free to take its own course; the Academy of Medicine of France has declared it unnecessary; the board of public hygiene has made the same authoritative declaration, and the great chemist, Mr. Wurtz, who is paramount authority for the whole scientific world, has demonstrated in unanswerable language its absolute inutility.

A moment’s consideration will, I trust, satisfy your excellency that, on the ground of public health, it would be much more justifiable to exclude French wines from America than it is to prohibit American meats in France. The French scientific authorities do not contend that the consumption of American meats is dangerous, while they do contend that some French wines are adulterated to an extent prejudicial to public health.

On the one side there is the evidence of the most competent of your learned institutions in such matters, that American salted meats are inoffensive; on the other there is the evidence of your own officials that French wines are manipulated in such a manner as to make them unhealthy.

Yet, notwithstanding the overwhelming weight of such facts, and in spite of the repeated complaints of the French chambers of commerce, and of the earnest representations of the United States, this obnoxious decree has remained standing for nearly three years, and has had the mischievous tendency of alienating from France the powerful commercial interests of our Western States. Your excellency cannot be unaware that the growing dissatisfaction caused by this extraordinary discrimination, only applicable to the United States of all the countries with which France is on friendly relations, against one of the most important products of the United States, is likely to give rise to discussion in the Congress about to convene at Washington which might result in measures which would seriously affect Franco-American commerce in some of its most important branches.

If I call your excellency’s attention to these facts it is by no means with the intention of threatening the French Government with retaliatory measures, which, so far as I am informed, are not contemplated by my Government, but simply to show that the interests which are provoked to take such a course could find substantial reasons to support the position.

Believing that the French Government would satisfy itself that the decree was issued under a misapprehension, and cheerfully abrogate it, neither the Government nor the Congress of the United States, notwithstanding the constantly increasing pressure of public opinion, has taken any action with reference thereto.

I cannot doubt that your excellency will, upon a review of the evidence in your possession, concur with me in the opinion that the results of the searching investigations conducted by competent officers of both countries, have clearly established the unfounded and erroneous character of the statements regarding the alleged unwholesome quality of American hog products upon which the issue of the prohibitory decree was based.

I avail, &c.,