Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Sargent.
Washington , February 16, 1883.
Sir: I transmit herewith copies of a memorial addressed to the President, under date of the 9th instant, by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York concerning the apprehended prohibition by the German Government of the importation of American bacon—hams and hog products—into the territory of the Empire.
The considerations set forth by the memorialists are believed to be justly stated. They represent what this Department has so frequently hitherto represented through your legation, that the alleged existence of trichinae, and of diseases among swine in this country to an alarming extent, cannot, even if established, affect the healthfulness of the exported product, inasmuch as the hog products of the United States are prepared for market in a manner which renders their uncooked consumption all but impossible that the disease known as trichinosis is rare among American consumers of swine’s flesh, and that not more than two or three cases in Germany during the past ten years have occurred where the disease could be ascribed to the consumption of American pork, while most of the reported cases in Germany are directly traceable to the consumption of the raw meat of freshly killed domestic hogs. And they state further that with respect to alleged exportation of deleterious meat from diseased hogs no substantiation whatever has been shown.
As you are aware, this Government at home and through its legation at Berlin has made every effort from the first to countervail a tendency toward what it believes to be uncalled-for and unjust legislation on the part of Germany, in seeking to exclude from one of the largest markets of the world a product of such great importance to the United States. [Page 336] No endeavor has been spared to bring home to the mind of the imperial Government the conviction, reached by this Government after exhaustive and impartial investigation of the subject, that the premises upon which the intended prohibition rests are unfounded, and that the exported hog products of the United States are in nowise the indiscriminate source of danger to life and health which they are alleged to be. You and your predecessors have earnestly set forth all this to the imperial Government; you have labored to convey a right understanding of the facts of the matter as they are ascertained to exist here, and you have urged the hardship, almost amounting to an international wrong, which would be inflicted alike upon the producers of the United States and the peasantry of Germany, by cutting off from the one class a large and secure market, and depriving the other of a cheaper food than their own country can supply. So far as is now known, your efforts in this direction have not been crowned with the hoped-for result.
But one course now remains. It is believed here that if the Imperial Government itself were to do as the Government of the United States has done, and closely examine on the spot all the conditions of the hog-raising and packing industry, if it were to follow by practical observation the course of this staple of food from the fields and farms to the packed state, the same conclusions would be inevitably reached as those to which this Government has been drawn. So firmly is this believed that the Government of the United States deems it a common duty to its own citizens and to the consumers in Germany to invite the Imperial Government to examine into the matter for itself, by a commission of experts sent to this country, before final decision is taken on the proposed measures.
This Government stands ready to extend to that of Germany the fullest facilities for the profitable pursuit of such an investigation. Believing that the results which it will promise are of no less moment to the consumers of hog products in the United States than to those in Germany, it is willing to lend the services of one or more impartial experts, scientists of known probity, to co-operate with those whom Germany may send, if such co-operation be deemed desirable and acceptable by Germany.
You will therefore present to the imperial Government, in the name of the President, a formal proposal and invitation to send to the United States a commission of experts, who shall, either by themselves or jointly with impartial scientists named by the United States, investigate the whole question of hog raising and the curing and packing of hog products as food in the United States. And you will ask that action in a final sense upon the pending prohibitory measures may be suspended during such reasonable time as may be necessary for such a commission to make a thorough examination of the subject and report thereon. You will add that in making this proposition the Government of the United States is actuated by the fairest and most friendly motives; that its desire, no less than that of Germany can be, is solely that the truth of the matter may be established, and that it deems its reasonable request entitled to friendly consideration on the part of a Government bound to the United States by so many ties as is that of Germany. It is thought, above all, necessary that some such course as that now; proposed be adopted to free whatever resultant course Germany may adopt from the possible charge of being an unfriendly discrimination.
You will read this dispatch to the minister for foreign affairs, and leave with him a copy.
I am, &c.,