Mr. Runyon to Mr. Gresham .
Berlin , February 23, 1895 . (Received March 8.)
Sir: The events of the past week, while entirely of an unofficial character, are of such importance from their possible influence upon the action of the German Government, that I feel certain that a short narrative account will be of interest to the Department.
The week is currently called the “great agriculturists’ week.” On Monday morning, February 18, the German Emperor received a delegation from the Agrarian League (Bund der Landwirthe) who presented a loyal address, which was answered by the Emperor. The text, no doubt, of both speeches has been telegraphed to the United States. The Emperor, in short, told the Agrarians that all that was possible would be done to improve their condition, and advised them to refrain from sensational agitation.
In the afternoon the annual convention of the league was held in this city and was attended by more than 5,000 agriculturists from all parts of Germany, among them most of the prominent members of the Conservative party. After various reports and other business the so-called “Antrag Kanitz” (Count Kanitz’s proposition that the Government create a grain monopoly) was discussed, and in the discussion the suggestion that its adoption by the Government would lead to the abolishing of the “most favored nation treaties” with America—both North and South (Argentine)—was received with enthusiastic approval. Great satisfaction was also expressed at the vote of the Reichstag on the question of a monetary conference (see my recent dispatches Nos. 204 and 205), and Count Mirbach gave notice that a bimetallist league was about to be formed, and recommended that all Agrarians join it.
On Tuesday, the 19th instant, the annual convention of the Association for Economic Reform (Vereinigung der Steuer und Wirthschafts-Reformer) was opened and the following resolution was adopted:
The twentieth general convention of the Association for Economic Reform expresses its thanks to the Imperial chancellor for the declaration made by him in Parliament on the 15th instant, and adds hereto the urgent request that the chancellor will proceed as soon as possible to take such measures as are intended to lead to the solution of the currency question through international action.
That evening a “bimetallist league” was formed under the auspices of Count Mirbach and Herr von Kardorff, who announced the receipt of congratulatory telegrams from the London Bimetallist League and the Société des Agriculteurs de France.
The subject of the discussion at the second session of the Association for Economic Reform (the majority of whose members are also members of the Agrarian League and the new Bimetallist League) on Wednesday, the 20th instant, was “Germany’s politico-commercial relations [Page 508] with America” (the United States), and the session ended with the adoption of the following resolution:
The twentieth general convention, etc., declares that the treaty of commerce made between North America and Prussia in 1828, as well as the treaties made by the North American Union with other German States, which were accepted at the time by the German Empire as a basis for reciprocal commercial relations, are not to be considered as binding upon the German Empire. German interests are to be more carefully guarded in the future regulation of the commercial relations with North America than has been the case since 1891.
The meetings of the agricultural societies have continued during the week, the whole tenor of their proceedings being both bimetallistic and anti-American, as shown above.
Of a different tone have been the proceedings of the various boards of trade which have met during the week. From all parts of the Empire petitions have been sent to the Reichstag against taking measures for the abrogation of the “most favored nation” treaty with the Argentine Republic, and while the discussion, and the commercial uneasiness caused thereby, of the currency question were deprecated, yet, in order that silence might not be construed to mean indifference, the following resolution was unanimously passed at the convention of the representatives of the German chambers of commerce and mercantile corporations and societies, which was held in this city yesterday:
The committee of the convention of the German boards of trade (Deutscher Handelstag) regrets most earnestly that by the acceptance in Parliament of the proposition of the members Friedberg, Count Mirbach, and others—but still more by the direction taken by the debate but not indicated in the wording of the proposition—serious commercial uneasiness has been occasioned and the impression created abroad that Germany contemplates a change in its currency system. Although the Imperial chancellor emphatically stated in the declaration read by him that nothing prejudicial to the German currency system would be done in the negotiations which might eventually be entered into looking toward the taking of measures to increase the price of silver, yet the committee feels itself bound to declare that the convention adheres to the conclusion reached on March 12, 1886, that the German gold standard ought not to be disturbed. The committee would regard such disturbance as a fundamental injury to all German commercial enterprise, against which no protest sufficiently loud or determined could be raised. The committee directs the president to call a special convention on this point of the German boards of trade as soon as practicable, in which the currency question should be considered with special reference to the present conditions.
I have, etc.,