No. 88.
Mr. Morton to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 483.]

Sir: By special appointment I called yesterday on Mr. Ferry to ascertain his intentions in relation to the earnest representations I had again made with reference to the prohibition of our pork products and to call his serious attention to the agitation which the revival of prohibitory measures had created in the United States. I reminded him of his promise made on New Year’s day that he would not let the matter rest there, adding that I had communicated to you his language, that the moment was critical, and that if some liberal steps were not determined upon on this side, Congress would no doubt adopt measures which might complicate the matter and render its solution less easy.

He said he remembered well his promise, and reasserted that his Government did not intend to let the matter drop, that the minister of commerce was preparing a bill which he hoped would give satisfaction to both countries, but that he had not pressed its presentation in order to enable public opinion to be enlightened as to the true bearing of the question; that the press had so widely and so liberally discussed it that he expected to find less opposition in the Chambers when the question was again brought before it.

Upon my inquiring the nature of the contemplated bill, he said that it would provide for an inspection, but it was the intention of the Government [Page 137] to make this inspection as light as possible, its object being mainly to show whether the meats were or were not fully cured, for the purpose of only rejecting the latter. In substance the bill is to be the: same as the one which passed the Chamber in March, 1882, the more liberal conditions of which are embodied in the Gaudin bill, which caused the introduction of Mr. Paul Bert’s resolution, and which is now in the hands of a committee of the house.

Mr. Ferry then asked if I could give him any definite information as to the character of the measures recently introduced in Congress in relation to the subject; what he desired particularly to know was what share our Government had in the action thus taken, and if any of the bills or measures mentioned by telegrams had official character.

I replied that though I had not received any communication from you with reference to the matter, I could safely give him the assurance that you had not proposed any of the measures to which he referred, as in our system of Government the Executive did not originate legislation, that these measures had been undoubtedly proposed by members of the two houses, under the pressure of public opinion, or at the suggestion of the large and influential class of people engaged in the pork trade, and that I had good reason to believe that very far from countenancing any unreasonable retaliatory measures you disapproved of them. I then gave him the substance of a late telegram published in the London Times, stating that you had intimated to members of the House of Representatives that it would be well to proceed with circumspection in the matter of authorizing the prohibition of the importation of certain goods from foreign countries which placed restrictions on the importation of American products; that the introduction in Congress of certain measures had already accomplished some good, and that it would perhaps be better to avoid actual legislation of a retaliatory character.

Mr. Ferry was much pleased with this statement. “These are,” he said, “very good words; they convey wise advice and are calculated to facilitate us [meaning himself and myself] in the task we have jointly undertaken of settling this troublesome question.”

* * * * * * *

In the course of the conversation reference was also made to the establishment of a system of inspection of our salted meats by United States officers, and Mr. Ferry expressed the opinion that an inspection having this character would be received here with great satisfaction and might remove all the objections made by many people who still believed in trichinae and trichinosis, and he was pleased to say that he was not one of them.

I have, &c.,