Mr. Phelps to Mr. Blaine.

No. 88.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instruction No. 72 of the 4th instant. It covers, as an inclosure, the copy of a letter from the Secretary of Agriculture, dated February 18 last, and addressed to the Department of State, speaking of some restrictions imposed upon the introduction of live animals and hog products from the United States into certain European states, and especially referring to the action of Germany in this matter. I was already in possession of an earlier instruction relating to the same subject (your No. 23 of December 3, 1889). This instruction covered copies of a communication, dated November 22 last, from the Secretary of Agriculture to the State Department, and of an ordinance (assumed to be identical with others issued by all the seaboard states of Germany) adopted by the senate of Hamburg and originally transmitted to the Department by our consul at that port. This ordinance decrees certain measures for the prevention of the introduction of murrain in cattle arriving from foreign countries, among them the United States. I was directed to ascertain if there were any other laws of similar purport, and, if there were, to forward copies of them.

To the request which in pursuance of these instructions I addressed to the foreign office for copies of such laws as were still, in force in the German Empire regulating the importation of cattle, swine, and swine products of American origin, I have as yet received no answer. I have, however, caused searches to be made through our own resources. The search was rewarded by the discovery of no other legislation than the imperial ordinance prohibiting the importation of American pork products, which was first published March 6, 1883. A draft of this ordinance was transmitted to the Department with Mr. Sargent’s dispatch [Page 309] No. 85 of December 11, 1882. In subsequent correspondence between Mr. Sargent and the Department and Mr. Sargent and the foreign office this measure was discussed at greath length.

Upon receipt of your instructions to ascertain what construction of the Hamburg ordinance the German authorities were adopting, I determined to make an effort to obtain the information in an informal way through our consul at Hamburg. I thought that our consul there, at the greatest port of entry, could report to me the practice of the Hamburg authorities in the case of such importations, and that that practice would furnish the desired information as to the construction of the ordinance by which such imports were to be regulated.

My success has not been very great. Consul Johnson’s discoveries are incomplete and unsatisfactory. This is probably because such cargoes are infrequent, and, when they do come, the method of disposing of them is irregular. He speaks of a cargo of 934 head of cattle arriving in 1889. In this case four or five of the cattle in each shipment were slaughtered on the spot to show there was no taint in the shipment, and then all the rest were allowed to enter, after a detention in some cases of 10, in other cases of 21 days. It is so plain that the practice of the authorities is not uniform that I felt compelled to resort to a formal demand for information on this subject to the foreign office. I inclose herewith a copy of the note I accordingly addressed to that office on the 21st instant.

Mr. Johnson’s investigations convinced him that the ordinance was originally issued by the seaboard states at the instance of the Imperial Government, and that these states are in the habit of referring all questions under it to that Government for its decision.

I can find no grounds for the apprehensions expressed in certain newspaper telegrams, to which the Secretary of Agriculture, in his letter of February 18, referred, that the system of exclusion and restrictive regulation was to be extended so as to include dressed beef and canned meats.

I have the honor to inclose herewith five copies of the imperial law of March 6, 1883, already mentioned, and to be, sir, etc.,

Wm. Walter Phelps.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 88.]

Mr. Phelps to Count Bismarck.

The undersigned, envoy, etc., of the United States of America, has the honor, adding under instructions from his Government, to beg that His Excellency Count von Bismarck-Schönhausen, imperial secretary of state for foreign affairs, will kindly cause him to he informed as to the construction placed by the German authorities upon a certain ordinance restricting the importation of cattle from the United States and other countries which was issued by the senate of Hamburg under date of August 1, 1879, and which is understood to be identical with ordinances issued by the other seaboard states of the German Empire.

The information respectfully asked for is: Is the importation of such animals entirely prohibited, or may they be landed subject to a 4-weeks’ quarantine? And, finally, must this quarantine be enforced upon animals which are to be transferred into the interior, although, if not intended for transportation, they could be slaughtered immediately at the port of entry?

The ordinance is understood to have been issued on account of the existence of pleura-pneumonia in the United States. Since its issuance this disease has been almost entirely eradicated; it no longer exists in any section from which cattle for [Page 310] export are obtained, and, if existing now at all, is confined to two counties on Long Island, N. Y., and one in New Jersey, all of which are in strict quarantine. The stock yards which might be dangerous have been thoroughly disinfected, and everything has been done to remove all danger of contagion hereafter.

Under these circumstances, and in view of the serious damage to a trade in cattle which is lucrative to both countries, caused by the existence of these restrictions as now enforced, it is respectfully asked if the quarantine of 4 weeks against American cattle to be transported into the interior, or, in any case, all restrictions against the immediate slaughter of cattle upon landing, may not be withdrawn.

The undersigned avails, etc.,

Wm. Walter Phelps.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 88.—Translation.]

Ordinance concerning the prohibition of the importation of pigs, pork, and sausages of American origin of March 6, 1883.

We, William, by the grace of God, Emperor of Germany, King of Prussia, etc., decree in the name of the Empire, and with the consent of the Bundesrath, as follows:

  • Section 1. The importation of pigs and pork, including bacon and all kinds of sausages of American origin, is prohibited until further notice.
  • Sec. 2. The imperial chancellor is empowered, by applying the necessary precautionary measures, to permit exceptions to be made in this prohibition.
  • Sec. 3. The ordinance of the 25th of June, 1880, concerning the exclusion of American pork and sausages (Im. Law Gazette, p. 151) is abolished.
  • Sec. 4. The present ordinance goes into force after the expiration of the thirtieth day after its publication.

Given under our hand and the imperial seal.

  • Wilhelm.
  • Von Bismarck.