No. 362.
Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard.

No. 545.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instruction No. 289, concerning the decree of the French Government prohibiting the importation of American pork into France, and I have read carefully the dispatch from Mr. Dufais, our consul at Havre, relative to alleged renewed efforts at Havre to bring about a repeal of the decree in question.

I can not hear of any effort that has been made in that direction beyond the newspaper article, translation of which was communicated to you by Mr. Dufais, but which has not as yet attracted the attention of the Government here. X addressed a note, however, yesterday to M. Flourens, advising him that I had heard from you under date of January 23, recalling my attention to this long pending question and reminding me that it had lost none of its interest, and that it was your desire that no effort should be omitted to induce a favorable change in the apparently needless, and in some aspects unfriendly, policy pursued by France in relation to one of the greatest export staples of the United States. I reminded him that, under date of September 23, 1885, in a note to the foreign office, I had reviewed very fully the case which had [Page 509] been, even then, fully considered by my predecessor. I reminded him further that I had never ceased to urge upon the French Government a repeal of the prohibitory decree, and, more particularly, that I had recently left with him verbal notes summing up its history and requesting that it be disposed of in a liberal spirit.

In this connection it is of some interest to advise you that when I presented the President’s letter to President Carnot, upon his election as President of the French Republic, I embraced the opportunity of calling his attention to this question and noting to him the fact that I had pressed the matter upon M. Grevy’s attention in 1885, and that I had reason to believe that the cabinet over which M. de Freycinet presided was well disposed to submit for the President’s consideration a decree repealing the prohibition, but refrained from doing so in the face of the very strenuous opposition of the protectionists in the Chamber of Deputies, who were chiefly represented at that time by M. Dautresme, now minister of commerce. The President expressed his desire to satisfy the complaint I addressed to him upon the exclusive discrimination against the United States contained in this prohibitory decree. The President knew that I had recently conferred with M. Flourens on the subject and also with the late prime minister, M. Rouvier, before his resignation, and that I had frankly communicated to both my own opinion that, notwithstanding the good feeling of my Government to the French Republic, whenever this question should become the subject of debate in Congress it would excite a very bad feeling, and would be accepted either as unfriendly to the United States or as the evidence of a very illiberal and selfish policy, as no one now in either country believed that the sanitary considerations which were the origin of this prohibition now existed.

I would be happy to conclude this dispatch with the expression of my opinion that the efforts which I have not ceased to make since I assumed charge of this mission would be successful. I dare not do so, however, for we are in the midst of great political agitation in France in reference to the policy of having excluded French meats.

I beg to refer you to my series of dispatches, Nos. 24, 36, 53, 58, 73, 108, 202, and 403,* giving a full history of my action in this matter and of my intercourse with the French Government in regard to it. I have not thought it my duty to recommend retaliation as a remedy, which would necessarily cause great derangement of all our commercial relations with France.

In conclusion, I have to assure you that I will not cease my efforts to obtain from the Executive, even without the concurrence of the Chamber of Deputies, a decree substituting an inspection of American pork and its admission into France at the rate of duty to which all pork is subject in lieu of the original prohibitory decree, and I am not without hope of succeeding, as this question of inspecting foreign meats is now under consideration by the minister of commerce and agriculture, and an opportunity is offered, in my opinion, for at least a temporary arrangement until the Chamber shall vote upon the bill for the inspection of meats, which has been protecting almost to the prohibitory point all agricultural products, an agitation which controls the legislature and the Executive and very recently caused the failure of negotiations with Italy for a commercial treaty.

Referring to my No. 24, under date of June 16, 1885, in which I advised you that I thought my predecessor was over sanguine in his expectation [Page 510] that the legislature would concur with the Executive in providing a law of inspection as a substitute for the prohibitory decree, I can assure you that there has never been a period since, when any cabinet minister here encouraged me to hope for a satisfactory result from the present Chamber, though they always disclaimed any unfriendly intention. M. Flourens even contended that European countries did not consider the exclusion of a particular import as unfriendly, but rather as a domestic question, connected with its economic or health policy, and referred especially to Great Britain, as pending since 1883.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

Robert M. McLane.
  1. No. 403 is printed in Foreign Relations, 1887, page 298.