Mr. Vignaud to the Secretary of State .

No 270.]

Sir: On February 25 I telegraphed you the substance of an order just issued forbidding the importation into France of American cattle, and a copy of the order with a translation of same were sent you on the following day.

The 27th being the diplomatic reception day at the foreign office, I saw Mr. Hanotaux, to whom I said that, although the embassy had received no instructions concerning this prohibition, it could not but create a very bad impression at home, and would certainly be followed by representations from the United States Government. He replied, with a certain warmth, that he had opposed the measure as long as he could, and only had yielded when it was shown that the Governments of Germany and Belgium had already taken the same step, and that cases of malady had been actually detected in France among the animals imported from the United States. I asked whether he was sure of this last fact. He replied that the minister of agriculture himself was his authority for the statement. The chief of the commercial department in the foreign office gave me the same assurance.

When your cable of the 2d instant reached me, I called at once on Mr. Hanotaux and told him that the anticipated instructions had come, and that I was directed to protest against the order of prohibition and to remonstrate against its enforcement. I added that this matter being a very serious one, I had put in writing what I was instructed to say, and then handed him the note dated March 4, a copy of which is herewith inclosed. He did not read it, and what took place between us is explained in my long telegram of the 4th of March. Being satisfied that it was impossible for Mr. Hanotaux to have the order of prohibition [Page 405] rescinded, I consented to withdraw, temporarily, our protest until you could be consulted on the propriety of accepting the suppression of the microscopical examination of pork as a sort of compensation for the wrong done us in so abruptly suspending the importation of our cattle.

Your cable of the 5th instant having put an end to this expectation, I proceeded immediately to the foreign office and delivered to Mr. Hanotaux the identical note mentioned above, which I trust you will find satisfactory, as it follows as closely as possible your own line of argument and language. The minister asked if the suggestion about the microscopical examination of pork had engaged your attention. I replied that you had made no reference whatever to this matter; that your telegram insisted on the extraordinary character of the order of prohibition, and simply directed me to comply with my previous instruction. He then repeated what he had already said about his opposition to the prohibition, and added that after all there was nothing extraordinary in France resorting to measures of protection which had already been adopted by Germany and Belgium. I remarked that it was no reason because Germany had given us a kick that France should give us one too; and that so far as Belgium was concerned, she pretended at least to have detected two cases of contagious disease among our cattle, whereas none had been found in France. The minister insisted that such cases had been found, but I called his attention to the peculiar wording of the order of prohibition, which shows the contrary, as it simply alludes to cases of malady found in Europe, not in France.

Mr. Hanotaux has evidently been deceived with regard to these cases. It is true that some of the animals imported from the United States have been reported by the French inspectors as being in an unhealthy condition, but these are not cases of contagious infection, being rather due to the fatigues of an ocean transit.

Mr. Hanotaux is no doubt annoyed at being obliged to assume the responsibility of a measure he disapproves of, and is sincerely desirous of doing anything he can to attenuate its evil effect in the United States. Unfortunately, he can not do much in this respect at least. The pressure brought to bear upon the Government to secure this prohibition was such that they did not dare to resist it to the last, and it is useless to entertain the hope that the measure might be canceled. Like the pork decree, it has evidently come to stay, and notwithstanding all our representations and remonstrances it will remain.

We had a far better case some years ago, when our pork was prohibited. Not a single case of trichinosis was found in France. Our inspectors had declared the meat perfectly healthy. France’s own Academy of Medicine and her highest scientific authorities had stated that no better meat existed. In the face of all this, the decree of prohibition, based upon the unhealthiness of the meat, remained in force ten years, and when, after incessant diplomatic representations, its removal was secured, we gained nothing whatever thereby, as the pork trade had in the meantime been diverted to other channels and the duty raised in such a way that the meat could no longer find an open market in France. With regard to the cattle, the result will be exactly the same. If the prohibition is removed it will not be before the peculiar circumstances which make it profitable at this moment to import American cattle have changed. The French farmers, who had to slaughter nearly all their cattle two years ago on account of the drought, are rapidly reconstituting their herds, and within eighteen months the price of meat will be [Page 406] such that it will hardly pay to send American cattle to France. Such is the opinion of the most competent men engaged in the trade on this side.

I have, etc.,

Henry Vignaud
[Inclosure in No. 270.]

Mr. Vignaud to Mr. Hanotaux .

Sir: On the 27th of February I called your excellency’s attention to the serious character of the order of February 24, forbidding the importation into France of American cattle, and said that although our embassy had not yet received any instructions concerning the matter, there could be no doubt that they would come. They have now been received, and by order of the President I am directed to protest against this abrupt and unexpected harsh action.

My Government considers that it is in every way unjustifiable. Cattle in the United States are entirely free from contagious infection and from any disease or malady of a communicative nature, and such has been the case for more than a year. Besides, our regulations governing this matter are of such a character that no unhealthy animal could be exported.

In view of these facts, which are asserted after careful examination, I am directed to inform your excellency that the United States regard the order of February 24 as a needless and unfriendly interference with an important branch of legitimate trade, and I am farther instructed to remonstrate against its enforcement.

I avail, etc.,

Henry Vignaud,
Chargé d’Affaires