Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 7, 1896, and the Annual Report of the Secretary of State
Sir Julian Pauncefote to Mr. Olney.
Washington, April 27, 1896.
Sir: With reference to your note of the 3d instant relating to the regulations for the transportation of cattle, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of two dispatches which I have received from Her Majesty’s consul-general at New York, in which he deals with the practical difficulties which exist in the way of carrying out those regulations.
In my note of the 31st ultimo I stated that Her Majesty’s consul-general had referred to the board of trade in London certain further difficulties arising out of the forms in use under the British merchant shipping act, but I think it better to transmit the inclosed reports on the general question, without awaiting the reply of the board of trade on the subsidiary points above mentioned.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Sanderson to Sir Julian Pauncefote.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s dispatch, No. 6, of the 13th instant, instructing me to report whether this consulate-general observes Article IV (or 14) of the regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture dated February 19, 1895, concerning the transportation of cattle from the United States to foreign countries. The portion of this article to which special reference is made states that the employment of all cattle attendants shall be under the control of owners or agents of steamships, and lays down that men so employed shall be reliable and signed as part of the ship’s crew, and under the control of the captain of the vessel.
The inquiry is made in view of complaints that have been made from time to time to the effect that the masters of British vessels employ American citizens in ports of the United States to attend cattle shipped on British vessels for European ports, without making provision for the return of the men to the United States, and that they are consequently often turned adrift in destitute circumstances.[Page 295]
I have the honor to report that the regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture have not been communicated to this consulate-general nor has my attention been drawn to them in any way.
On the other hand, I have received a circular from the foreign office, stating that the attention of Her Majesty’s Government had been called to this matter by the United States and Italian ambassadors, that the cattlemen are not the servants of the shipowners and that they can not be required to sign the ship’s articles, but instructing me to afford them what protection and assistance I can, whether they are placed on the ship’s articles or not. This has been done, and, further, a notice has been posted up in this consulate-general stating that the attention of Her Majesty’s Government has been called to the treatment of these men and warning masters and others concerned against landing cattlemen in the United Kingdom in a destitute condition.
On a reference to the books, I find that no cattlemen have been entered on the articles of British vessels at this port since December, 1894. I am informed that the men themselves refuse to attend at the consular office to sign the ship’s articles before leaving, but that they are entered on the articles after the vessel leaves the port. This is the same course as is adopted with sailors who are shipped at the last moment in place of deserters, and I have no means of checking such entries, as the articles are given “up in England.
In view of the foreign-office circular, I have no authority to demand of the master that he shall cause his cattlemen to sign the articles, and, on the other hand, I have no means of compelling an American citizen to sign such a document.
But I would mention that the articles (or agreement) of a British ship, in their ordinary form, do not provide for a return passage, even for a seaman, nor is any provision made by the British merchant shipping law for seamen left destitute in the United Kingdom, other than those who are lascars or natives of India, or natives of any country in Asia or Africa or of any island in the South Sea or the Pacific Ocean, or of any other country not having a consular officer in the United Kingdom.
In the absence of any convention between Great Britain and the United States for the mutual relief of distressed seamen it would seem necessary that there should be a distinct stipulation for the return passage of these men, and I understand that such a stipulation exists in the contract for the conveyance of cattle. The difficulties that arise are, I am informed, that for the return voyage these cattlemen can not be placed on the articles as members of the crew—they must be sent back as passengers—and that frequently the Immigration Commissioners will object to their being landed in the United States because they say they are practically destitute.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Sanderson to Sir Julian Pauncefote.
Sir: I have the honor to state that I have obtained a copy of the “Regulations for the safe transport of cattle from the United States to foreign countries,” and have made detailed inquiry into the methods adopted at this port. Article 14 of the regulations reads as follows: * * * As a rule, the contract between the steamer and the shippers [Page 296]of cattle contains a clause providing that the steamer shall supply bedding to the drovers and give free passage over and back to a number not exceeding one man to every 25 or 35 head of cattle, as the case may be.
The shippers of the cattle engage the men, and this because, I am told, they have a large number of such men in their employ, and they have means of judging whether they are competent or not.
The owners or agents of the vessels have not the same facilities, and were they to undertake the responsibility of providing cattlemen in all probability they would be held liable for any accidents that might happen to the cattle.
The regulations require that one-half of the cattle attendants shall be experienced men who have made previous trips with cattle. These are for the most part men in the regular employment of the shippers and come on board with the cattle from Jersey City or a day or two previous, so as to see to the arrangements for the reception of the cattle. Should there not be a sufficient number of experienced men, the foreman secures the services of others, so as to make up the complement of 50 per cent of the whole number of cattle attendants.
The other 50 per cent of the cattle attendants (men who are not required to be experienced) are supplied for account of the shippers by various employment agencies. They may be said to consist almost entirely of men who wish to leave the country and they are sent on board just before the vessel leaves. All the men are mustered to see that there is the requisite number, and the foreman supplies the agents or owners with a list of all the attendants and of those for whom return passages are required.
It appears that the shippers of the cattle do not ask for return passages for any except the experienced men, and I am also informed that some of the men sell their tickets instead of using them for the return passage.
I am informed that all the men are entered on the ship’s agreement and account of the crew, but of this I have no personal knowledge; such a proceeding is countenanced in the case of seamen shipped at the last moment in the place of deserters when there is no time to bring them to the consular office before the vessel starts. The inspector of animals for export of the United States Department of Agriculture is the authority who decides whether the cattlemen fulfill the requirements of the regulations, and by the nineteenth article of the regulations he has to see that all their requirements have been complied with. The vessel can not obtain her clearance from the custom-house until he has been satisfied that all is in order.
There is also an act, approved March 2, 1891, which provides that a vessel may be prohibited from carrying cattle for any length of time not exceeding one year if her owner or master willfully violate any of the regulations.
So far as this consulate is concerned the men will be placed on the articles (as has been done formerly), if they are brought to the office for that purpose, but they are really employed and paid by the shippers of the cattle and not by the owners, masters, or agents of the vessels. The consulate-general has, however, no means of compelling a master to bring cattlemen to the office for the purpose of signing the agreement with the crew, nor can the men be compelled to sign when they have been brought. In the absence of any registration bureau of cattlemen, it is not clear how competent men are to be obtained if they are really to be in the employ of the ship.
Complaints are made that cattlemen are not provided with return passages to the United States, but the mere fact of their signing the [Page 297]agreement as part of the crew of a British vessel will not entitle them to a return passage to the United States, and there is no provision for a return passage in the regulations of the United States Department of Agriculture. If it were really desired that all cattlemen should be provided with return passages, the course would seem to be to instruct the inspector of animals for export to refuse to certify the vessels for clearance till he was satisfied that this had been done. The tickets might perhaps be sent to some United States official in England instead of being given to the men themselves.
I have, etc.,