Mr. Risley to Mr. Gresham.
Copenhagen , November 21, 1894 . (Received December 3.)
Sir: I have just cabled you as follows:
To prevent Texas fever, now prevailing in America, importation of live cattle or fresh meat from that country is prohibited in Denmark. Does the disease exist? I have protested.
In the Berlinke, the official newspaper published in this city, there appeared yesterday a decree to prevent the importation into Denmark of live cattle or fresh meat from America. I inclose a printed copy, with a translation.
I had an interview to-day with Mr. Vedel, the director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs, on the subject, in which I inquired upon what ground the decree was based. He replied that such decrees were issued by the minister of the interior without consultation with the minister of foreign affairs. He did not know upon what information the minister had acted, but presumed he had merely followed the similar action of Germany and Sweden, as that was the usual course, so as to prevent those countries from prohibiting the shipment of cattle [Page 206] and meat from Denmark to them, shipments of that kind to those countries being very large and important to Denmark.
I then stated I had no official information as to whether or not the Texas fever prevailed in the United States, but had seen denials of it in the American newspapers, and had seen charges that Germany had taken the action referred to, in the nature of a retaliation for the tariff imposed on her sugar, and I supposed Sweden had merely followed the lead of Germany. He said he was surprised to hear that these was any question of the prevalence of the disease in America. I then called attention to the peculiar phraseology of the decree. It seemed to imply that the decree of 1879 had remained in force until superseded by the present one, and that during all those years it had been unlawful to import from the United States either live horned cattle or fresh meat from them; that the late decree seemed to be more comprehensive than the former one, in that it omitted the word “horned” and used the word cattle (kvaeg in Danish), which might include sheep and hogs. He thereupon carefully read the decree, and said the plain inference was as I said—it had been unlawful since 1879 to import the said articles, though he was surprised to see that it was so. He also said that the recent decree certainly was of wider scope than the former one, and that by its terms it certainly did include sheep and swine. He then suggested that I write them an official note, inviting attention to these points, and they would confer with the minister of the interior, and then reply. I answered that I would first cable to you and officially ascertain how the fact was as to the prevalence of the disease, and when I had your answer I would write to them, as suggested, and would bring up the whole question.
It will be observed that the prohibition does not apply to meats which arrive in hermetically-closed cans.
The matter may have additional importance because on the 9th instant the free port of Copenhagen was opened to the commerce of the world and considerable efforts have been used to make it known. It may well be that the great advantages of the free port may have induced, or may hereafter induce, large shipments of cattle or meat from America. I use the term America as the Danes do, as being synonymous with the United States.
It will give me much pleasure to carry out any instructions you may honor me with in the matter.
I have, etc.,