Mr. Uhl to Mr. Olney.
Berlin, December 24, 1896. (Received Jan. 8, 1897.)
Sir: I have the honor to report that I have had, within the past few weeks, several interviews with his excellency Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, Imperial secretary of state for foreign affairs, concerning the pending applications of the American life insurance companies for permission to renew business in Prussia. In the latter part of October I called upon his excellency and requested that, if consistent, the decision might be made known to me before the beginning of December. I again took occasion at this interview to represent to his excellency the great interest which was felt by the Government and the people of the United States in the favorable disposition of this matter, and expressed the earnest hope that the President might be able, in his then forthcoming annual message to the Congress, to announce that the application of the companies had been granted. I had before this stated to the Prussian minister of the interior that, if in the examination then proceeding, further showing upon any apparently doubtful point was found to be necessary or convenient, I should be pleased to be informed in that regard and would see to it that the additional information was promptly supplied.
In the interview last referred to his excellency, I was told by him that he expected a decision would be reached before the date suggested by me. I saw him on the 28th ultimo. The subject was again referred to. He then said he was confident he should be able to announce to me the decision within eight or nine days. Very shortly after this meeting he became ill, was confined to his residence for several days, and was again at the foreign office for the first time yesterday. I at once sought and obtained an interview, reminded him that the time [Page 198] had passed within which I had been led to hope the expected decision would be made known. I was informed by him that by reason of his recent illness he had been unable to review the report, which was in his possession. I found him disinclined to express any opinion upon the merits of the pending cases. I was unable from the entire interview to extract any great confidence in an early favorable decision. The not infrequent reference in this connection by his excellency to the recent proclamation of the President (which he deprecated, and as to which I had not called) in the matter of tonnage taxes, light-house dues, etc., the effect of which puts ships from German ports entering our own upon “an even keel” with ships from the United States entering German ports, impressed me.
I took occasion during the interview to suggest that the legislature of the State of New York would meet early in January next, and that the readmission of the American companies into Prussia would doubtless materially aid the Prussian insurance companies now seeking to do business in that State, and I also referred to the possible attitude of the legislatures of several other States with reference to the business of Prussian companies within their several jurisdictions as indicated by bills introduced therein at the last session.
He finally said that as the ultimate decision rested with the Prussian ministry he could not definitely say when it would be made, but he hoped it would be reached early in the new year.
I have, etc.,