No. 405.
Mr. Thomas to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 35]

Sir: In my dispatch No. 29 I had the honor to address you on the subject of direct steam communication between Sweden and the United States. I took occasion in that dispatch to speak at length of the amount and importance of the commerce between the two countries, and the large emigration from Sweden to the United States, and to announce that direct steam communication between Sweden and America would be inaugurated in 1884 by steamers of the North German Lloyds, which would ply once a month between Gothenburg and New York, the pioneer steamer leaving Gothenburg on April 24.

I have now the honor to inform you that a second line of steamships between the United States and Sweden will be put in operation in 1884. The name of the new company is the Direct Swedish Steamship Line. It will at first be composed of three steamers of about 3,500 tons capacity each, named, respectively, Lincoln City, Stockholm City, and Gothenburg City.

These are iron screw steamships, entirely new, and now being fitted up in England. They are first-class vessels, and rated 100 A 1 at Lloyds. They will contain commodious quarters for emigrants, and also accommodations for a limited number of first and second class passengers. The hull of each ship will be divided into eight compartments suitable for carrying grain in bulk.

These ships will sail from Stockholm, and, coasting around the southern end of the Swedish peninsula, touch at the Swedish ports of Malmö and Gothenburg, whence they will steam direct to America. Their return trips will be to Stockholm, touching at Gothenburg and Malmö if there be freight or passengers for those ports.

The vessels of this line will sail about once in three weeks between the two countries. The first ship will depart from Stockholm about the middle of April, 1884, for the port of New York. The second ship will sail for Boston, the third for New York, and so on, the steamers making alternate trips to New York and Boston.

This line is owned in England, but it will be managed on this side the Atlantic by the energetic and honorable firm of Olsen & Wright, Stockholm. The agents in New York will be Messrs. Simpson, Spence & Co., and in Boston, Messrs. J. B. Brigham & Co.

I desire to call the attention of American exporters to the facilities afforded by this Stockholm line, as well as by the Gothenburg line, mentioned in my dispatch No. 29, for increasing the volume and variety of American exports to Sweden, and more especially the export of grain and flour, agricultural machinery, and bulky articles, and fruit, and other perishable goods.

Grain.—The unavoidable necessity of transshipping all grain in a foreign port has hitherto prevented the shipment of grain from America to Sweden by any of the regular lines; An occasional cargo, however, has been exported by sailing vessels. But the cargo of grain carried by vessels suited to the North Atlantic trade amounts to from 5,000 to 8,000 quarters. This amount is too large to be economically handled by any one Swedish merchant at one time.

Wheat.—Again, the flour-mills of Sweden are of limited capacity, and none of them can advantageously receive a whole cargo of wheat at [Page 527] once. The result is that although the wheat import of Sweden for 1882 reached a value of more than $2,000,000, it was nearly all imported from Denmark or Stettin, only an inconsiderable fraction thereof coming from the United States. These direct steamers now offer for the first time a twofold advantage to the American exporter of grain:

Wheat may be exported directly from New York or Boston to Gothenburg, Malmö, or Stockholm, Sweden, by steam, without transshipment.
These direct steamers, being divided into eight compartments, can carry small amounts of grain in bulk—from 1,000 to 3,000 quarters per trip—which amounts can be most economically handled in Sweden.

Maize.—What is said of wheat is equally true of maize. Maize is now used to a considerable extent in Sweden for feed and in the distilleries. A large amount of maize may be profitably exported from America to Sweden with the opportunity for direct and limited shipments in bulk now offered.

Flour.—It is my belief that flour in barrels may be successfully shipped to Sweden by the direct steamers.

Agricultural machinery, &c.—I am convinced that the improved American agricultural machinery could be sold at a profit, especially in the southern provinces of Sweden. Such machinery, and indeed all bulky articles, can, of course, be most conveniently transported by a direct line, the difficulties of transshipment being increased by the bulk of the goods.

Fruit.—In the winter of 1882–’83 American apples were imported into Sweden in considerable quantities, and met with a ready sale. The Baldwin is the variety preferred here. Of course transshipment, even the most careful, is sure to bruise and injure fruit, and cause its speedier decay. It seems to me, therefore, that direct steamers may bring to Sweden not only apples but some of our more delicate fruits and perishable articles generally, the shipment of which has hitherto been difficult or impracticable.

Canned goods.—But few of the American canned goods are consumed in Sweden, while large quantities of the French goods are used here. I feel sure that Sweden offers a desirable and extensive market for the sale of American canned fruits, vegetables, lobsters, and oysters.

Yankee notions.—The thousand and one little articles of daily use and convenience embraced under the prolific appellation of Yankee notions can be sold in Sweden in respectable quantities and at a good profit.

To recapitulate, I would call the special attention of American merchants to the advantages, direct steam communication offers for the shipment of—

Wheat and maize in bulk in limited quantities, suited to the Swedish market.
Agricultural machinery and bulky articles generally.
Fruits, flour, and perishable goods.

In conclusion, I desire to say that I do not believe the well-established Atlantic steamship lines have cause to look with jealousy upon these new direct steamers. The business done by the new ships will be largely such as they themselves create, and such as is not at present, and can never be, advantageously done by the older lines, which must inevitably transship all goods carried by them to and from Sweden. The present Swedish business done by the old lines will quite generally remain to them. It is the increase of business which the direct [Page 528] steamers will chiefly carry, and of this increase they will themselves be largely the occasion.

It seems to me that the direct steam communication between Sweden and the United States, which is to be inaugurated in April next, will be permanent, and must of necessity materially increase trade, commerce, and immigration, and at the same time invigorate and strengthen the friendship and good will which have always subsisted between America and Scandinavia.

I have, &c.,