No. 44.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. de Bounder de Melsbroeck.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 29th ultimo, whereby you inform me that in view of the circumstance that Belgian manufacturers occasionally send agents to foreign countries for the purpose of peddling (colportant) linen, woolen, cotton, and other goods which they take with them, your Government desires to furnish suitable information to the interested parties who may make inquiry of the department of foreign relations, and request my assistance in acquainting you with the laws and regulations in force in the United States on the subject of peddling (colportage de marchandises).

In reply I have the honor to state that I do not quite understand whether your inquiry relates to the actual sale of the wares peddled from place to place, or to the operations of commercial salesmen who travel about with samples of goods which they exhibit and take corresponding orders for consignments thereof, to be afterwards delivered.

The laws regulating these two classes, peddlers and commercial travelers (the latter being commonly called drummers), are prescribed by the legislation of the several States. They vary widely in different States, and in each the two classes are subject to different treatment. Discriminations as to license fees, etc., are not infrequently made between commercial travelers representing houses doing business in the State and those who solicit orders on behalf of houses in other States of the Union or in foreign countries. These laws are continually undergoing alterations, and, as they sometimes affect the commercial intercourse of the States among themselves, are occasionally brought into question before the Federal tribunals.

Under these circumstances it would not be practicable for this Department to furnish the Government of Belgium with authoritative information covering the wide range of your inquiry. If, however, you will present it in a more limited form, stating the class of commercial colportage to which it relates and the States whose legislation it is desired to know, I will cheerfully endeavor to obtain further information on the subject.

Accept, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.