Mr. Thomas to Mr. Bayard .
Stockholm , March 20, 1885. (Received April 6.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you of the final action of the Swedish Diet upon the propositions to impose duties on pork and grain imported into Sweden.[Page 785]
I beg to refer in this connection to my dispatches Nos. 100 and 107 upon the preliminary stages of these propositions; also to my cablegram to you of this day. The committee on ways and means of the Swedish Diet, by a vote of 10 to 9, as fully described in my No. 107, reported briefly as follows: That a duty of one crown per 100 kilograms be imposed upon maize (not ground); that all other grain, ground and unground, be admitted duty free; that pork be admitted free.
The minority of nine members of the committee brought in a report placing the following duties:
|On wheat (not ground) per 100 kilograms||1.20|
|On rye (not ground) per 100 kilograms||1|
|On barley (not ground) per 100 kilograms||1|
|On flour, meal, and groats of every kind, including ground maize, per 100 kilograms||2.50|
The committee reported to both chambers at the same time, but the reports were earliest taken up in the first chamber.
The discussion here was long, animated, and exhaustive. The galleries were filled with spectators. Twenty-two speakers addressed the chamber, and were listened to with earnest attention and repeated applause.
I have been a frequent attendant upon the debates of the Diet for the last two sessions, but I have never before seen so lively an interest manifested in any question, both by members and spectators.
At 10 o’clock on the evening of March 18 a vote was reached. The members advanced in line by provinces to the desk of the presiding officer and deposited in a basket their ballots, on which was printed “Ja” or “Nej” (“Yes” or “No”). Next the president called out each ballot, the secretary keeping tally. Then the president rapped to order with his gavel and proclaimed that the first chamber, by a vote of 72 to 52, had rejected all of the minority report imposing duties on grain and the products thereof.
At the morning session on March 19 the first chamber, by a vote of 53 to 46, rejected all that portion of the majority report placing a duty on maize.
The chamber then passed to the consideration of the proposed duty on pork of 10 crowns per 100 kilograms, or $1.23 per 100 pounds. In the debate American pork was highly praised, and it was stated that the best medical authority in Sweden had declared American pork to be the healthiest and cheapest food. The chamber then voted against the duty on pork, 76 to 42.
The contest in the second chamber was, if possible, more earnest and exciting than in the upper branch of the Diet. The debate on the duties on grain occupied two days, and more than forty speakers addressed the assembly. At half-past eleven on the night of March 19 the debate was closed, and the duties on grain were rejected by a vote of 114 to 93.
This afternoon (March 20) the second chamber voted, 102 to 94, to reject the proposed duty on maize; and then, after a short debate, voted down the duty on pork by a majority so large that it was not counted. Immediately thereafter I cabled the result.
The importance of this parliamentary battle and its fortunate termination will be more accurately estimated when we remember that in 1883, the last year for which official figures have been published, the import of pork into Sweden amounted in value to more than $2,300,000, and was almost exclusively the product of the United States; also that the value of the import of grain and its products exceeded $12,000,000.[Page 786]
But this action of the Swedish Diet is not only important 5 it is significant and timely. At this moment the majority of the nations of Europe are placing protective duties upon the food products of our country. A tide of prohibition against the grain and meat of America is flowing over Europe. This tide is first stemmed in Sweden. Let it not be forgotten that a little more than a century ago Sweden was the first power in Europe next after our ally, France, to recognize the independence of the United States. Let it not be forgotten that to-day, when most of the nations of Europe are building up walls of protection about their borders to keep out the cheap and healthy bread and meat of America, this gallant, considerate, and friendly Kingdom of the north, after full discussion, votes to keep open her ports for the free entry of these products of American soil.
I have, &c.,