No. 358.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. McLane.

No. 289.]

Sir: With reference to previous correspondence concerning the decree of the French Government prohibiting, the importation of American pork into France, I inclose herewith, for your information, a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Dufais, our consul at Havre, relative to alleged renewed efforts at Havre to bring about a repeal of the prohibitory decree in question.

The subject has lost none of its interest here; it is the wish of the Department that no efforts may be omitted on the part of your legation to induce the withdrawal of the apparently needless, and, in some aspects, almost unfriendly policy pursued by France in relation to one of the greatest and most necessary export staples of the United States.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 289.—Extract.]

Mr. Dufais to Mr. Rives.

No. 133.]

Sir: In the kaleidoscope of French ministerial changes appears the latest, and quite recently, as prime minister and president of the council, Mr. Tirard, the same who, on February 18, 1881, as minister of agriculture and commerce, issued the famous edict of prohibition of American salted pork being imported into France, on the ground of its consumption being against public health.

How unfounded this pretense was, and what efforts have since been made by chambers of commerce, deputations of workingmen, etc., to induce the numerous intervening ministers of commerce, need not be repeated.

I am sure our people would not care what import duty France might levy on hog produce, provided all nations be treated equally; but to admit German, Belgium, [Page 501] English, etc., salted pork, hams, etc., and to exclude ours, under the ridiculous plea of its being unwholesome, is an unfriendly act towards a friendly nation, and one of the best customers France has.

I beg to inclose translation of an article contained in the “Journal du Havre,” of December 14, for what it is worth.

I have, etc.,

F. F. Dufais.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 289.—Extract from the “Journal du Havre.”—Translation.]

mr. tirard and american salted meats.

Mr. Tirard, the new president of the council, was minister of agriculture and commerce in 1881.

It was he who, in a report which we find in the Official Journal of the 19th February of 1881, asked the president of the Republic to sign a decree prohibiting the importation into France of salted pork, bacon, ham, etc., coming from the United States of America. The president of the Republic in effect signed a decree bearing date of the 18th February, 1881.

According to the judgment of Mr. Tirard, the consumption of this meat was dangerous to the public health. In the report alluded to, Mr. Tirard remarks that the importation of these meats through the port of Havre alone, the most important in France, was from 29,000,000 to 30,000,000 kilogrammes (2.2 pounds each) or 2,500 tons a month. By a single stroke of the pen this important branch of commerce, this element of prosperity of Havre, was suppressed. It deprived the carrying trade of an amount of freight not to be despised and which has not been replaced.

On November 27, 1883, Mr. Herisson, then minister of commerce, submitted to the president of the Republic another decree, withdrawing the edict of the 18th February, 1881, and Mr. Tirard, who had become minister of finance, countersigned the decree as such.

No time however, was given to rejoice over this good measure; indeed, inconsequence of a manifestation in the chamber of deputies, a third decree was launched on December 28, putting off the execution of the decree of the 27th of November preceding.

This was Havre’s new year’s gift. Ever since then we have lived under the rule of prohibition. Not only one branch of industry suffered thereby, not only our merchant marine suffered serious loss, but the entire trade of France was struck at.

The United States of America, when they saw the French market closed to this produce, used reprisals, raising in their turn obstacles against the import of our articles and placing our products at a disadvantage in the American markets.

The prohibition of American salted pork articles, produced immediately a falling off in our exports of 125,000,000 francs (75,000,000 in 1884, and 50,000,000 in 1885), the falling off continuing ever since.

The efforts and representations which have been made, the steps which have been taken by representatives of Havre, deputies and members of the chamber of commerce, to reverse this unlucky measure reducing our trade movement by 40,000 tons and more than 50,000,000 in value, have not succeeded.

Succeeding ministers have given (holy water) promises, but that was all.

The return of Mr. Tirard to power as chief of the cabinet furnishes, perhaps, an opportunity for renewed attempts. No doubt the chamber of commerce will be disposed to new endeavors. Mr. de Qnerhoent will go into harness again, and Messrs. Siegfried and Faure will give renewed assistance. (Mr. Seigfried, formerly mayor of Havre, was to form part of a Goblet ministry as minister of commerce, but the formation fell through.) The same united action as formerly will be found again all through France.

Mr. Tirard must have at heart to repair in 1887 the fault which he committed in 1881, and which had such disastrous consequences.

Mr. Dautresine, again minister of commerce, will doubtless encourage him in such efforts, whilst the message of the President of the Republic, in advance of the ministerial programme, promises serious fiscal reforms for the benefit of the whole community, bringing back revenues into the coffers of the state, enriching private purses, famishing the middle classes and workingmen with a substantial and cheap food, whose harmlessness has been attested not less by facts than by searching and intelligent analysis.

We complained, with perfect reason, of Great Britain prohibiting the importation of French cattle into her territory under the pretext that there had been a mouth disease in 1870. Do not let us give the English the chance to say that they are not less ridiculous than we are in prohibiting the importation of American hog produce for fear of imaginary trichinosis.