Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Sargent.
Washington , March 14, 1883.
Sir: Your No. 111 of the 24th ultimo, concerning the decree prohibiting the importation into Germany of the hog products of the United States, has been received.
The note addressed by you to Count Hatzfeldt on the 23d ultimo, in relation to the President’s invitation to the imperial Government to send a commission of experts to the United States to examine into the operations of hog raising and packing here, based as it was on the brief telegraphic instruction sent to you, has, in the main, anticipated the instruction No. 87, dated the 16th ultimo, and presented with considerable fidelity the considerations contained therein in support of the President’s invitation.
It must, however, be observed that you have to some extent gone beyond the intention of the President in the concluding part of your note to Count Hatzfeldt. You therein say:
Inasmuch as the United States are a large and growing consumer of German manufactures, and the food it exports to Germany is a principal article of exchange, the laws of trade must dictate its obtaining the goods it imports elsewhere, if the equivalent it furnishes is refused. This would probably result, even if the Congress did not meet the issue by legislation, under the belief that another motive than the unsoundness of American pork products caused this exclusion. Such a belief, of course, could not obtain if fair investigation on the spot by German experts showed dangerous unsoundness to exist.
So far as your intimation touches the operation of the laws of international trade, it is unexceptionable. Those laws control themselves, and commerce must perforce work its own channels in the most natural directions; but when you go further and indicate the possibility that this Government may resort to retaliation if its views be not assented to by Germany, you introduce an element which it was not intended to present.
The action taken by this Government was unusual, and necessarily presupposed that the direct proposal of the President to the imperial Government would be entertained in the same frank spirit in which it was proffered; and, no doubt, it will yet receive a courteous reply, whether favorable or unfavorable.
It may be that His Majesty the Emperor may decline to send hither such a commission as has been proposed, through unwillingness, possibly, [Page 357] that the results of its labors should have a binding effect upon his Government, such as might naturally be supposed to follow from a commission created by imperial order. The German Government has an undoubted right to withhold its concurrence in the suggestion of the President and the exercise of this right would give no occasion for offense. It is the duty of governments to be jealous of the health and careful of the interests of the citizens or subjects, and the President does not seek to support an appeal to the German sense of equity by any menace.
In this view of the matter, therefore, any intimation, such as is contained in your note to Count Hatzfeldt, that retaliation might ensue in the event of a refusal, was out of place.
If the imperial Government declines to send the suggested commission to examine into the operations of hog raising and packing in the United States, it is more than probable that the President will cause such an examination to be made in so thorough and impartial a manner as to satisfy that Government that the health of the German people will not be imperiled, but rather promoted, by the importation of American pork. But it is, of course, impossible for the executive branch of this Government to anticipate what may be the action of the Legislature of the United States, if the prohibitory measures contemplated by Germany should be adhered to.
Lest the statements in your note of February 23 might prove liable to misinterpretation, you are authorized to make the contents of this instruction known to Count Hatzfeldt by reading it to his excellency, and, should he desire it, by leaving with him a copy. In doing so you should state to him that this instruction is explanatory merely, and does not put on record a censure of your course.
I am, &c.,