Mr. Sargent to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Berlin, December 18, 1882. (Received January 5, 1883.)
Sir: I have the honor to state, referring to my dispatches recently sent, stating the agitations for and against the prohibition of the importation of American swine products into Germany, that strong protests, similar to that of the Hamburg merchants, have been sent from Bremen and several other cities interested in the commercial aspects of the matter.
During the past week Herr Richter, the distinguished leader of the Progressist party in the Reichstag, made a powerful speech in opposition to the proposed exclusion, denying the soundness of the reasons adduced for such action, and also the power of the federal council to make the prohibition without the sanction of the Reichstag.
I presume you are aware that the proposition is pending in the Bundesrath, and is to be effected by a simple order or decree of that body, and is not to be adopted in the form of a law. In fact, it could not gain sanction as a law. In a more popular body, like the Reichstag, it would surely be defeated. * * *
The power is claimed for the Bundesrath under an article in the tariff laws of July 1, 1869, which reads as follows:
- Article 1. All productions of the nature of art or industrial productions may be imported into, exported from, or transported through the entire district of the customs union.
- Art. 2. Exceptional measures may be temporarily adopted under extraordinary circumstances for the prevention of dangerous contagious diseases, or for other sanitary or precautionary reasons, for a part or the whole district.
The power herein granted is obviously for temporary purposes and for emergencies. Some great and unusual calamity impending must have been in the minds of the legislators. * * * [No] emergency now exists nor disaster impends from the importation of American pigs or pork; certainly not one so threatening that there is not ample time for ordinary legislative processes.
In view of these obvious considerations it is alleged that the Progressist party intends making an interpellation in the Reichstag regarding the threatened prohibition of the importation of American pork products. [Page 324] This interpellation I find reported in one of the local papers as follows:
In reference to the project now pending before the Bundesrath to prohibit the future introduction of American pork products, the undersigned would address the following inquiries to the imperial chancellor:
- Has the Bundesrath caused any statistics to be collected showing to what extent American meat products, especially bacon, are necessary articles of food to a large class of the poorer people in different parts of the country?
- Does the Bundesrath propose to cause special statistics to be collected relating to the alleged unwholesome character of the American meat products at the port of entry and at the place of origin of the article?
- Does the Bundesrath, apart from the question of a continual sanitary consideration in the premises, hold itself authorized to adopt measures restricting importations without the concurrence of the imperial Parliament, by virtue of the right vested, for temporary circumstances only, in the Bundesrath by article 2 of the tariff laws of July 1, 1869?
These questions go to the root of the matter. The considerations which they raise can hardly be ignored in the Bundesrath, though they may not prevail to prevent the foreshadowed action.
I have, &c.,