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Consular reports, Issues 188-191 online

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Ayres, Rio de Janeiro, and their numerous other connections, covering the
entire length and breadth of Spanish America, where, especially, the German
textile trades hold large interests and command a large and, for many arti-
cles, almost undisputed market.

Imports into Germany during the first eight months of the year 1895
amounted to 205,367,400 cwts., which is a decline of 1,623,600 cwts. com-
I>ared with the same period of 1894. Exports came up to 151,705,450 cwts.,
an increase of 7,967,020 cwts. A large share in the increase is held by cot-
ton goods, linen and linen thread, woolen goods, and silk goods.

Exports to countries across the sea have increased, and, in Europe,
Austria-Hungary, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain report growing im-
ports from this country. Among transoceanic countries an increase is chiefly
reported by Argentina, Japan, British Australia, British East India, Canada,
the United States, Brazil, Dutch East India, China, Transvaal, Uruguay,
and the Caj^e. In many of these instances, the textile trades had a goodly
share.

Commercial relations with Russia are rapidly reviving, thus showing the
good efi*ect of the commercial treaty. According to the nature of things
(Russia having a highly developed textile trade of her own), the exports to
Russia are mainly iron and steel, but her orders are imix)rtant enough to add
considerably to the recovery of general trade, for everybody knows that the
prosperity of one important branch of trade must, in the long run, be bene-
ficial to the other branches. There is, consequently, in the general position
of the country much to revive the hope that Germany is entering on a new
period of prosperity, and yet agriculture is languishing, imf>orts of rye and
wheat being very much in excess of what they were last year.

H. F. MERRITT,

ConsuL
Barmen, November 2j, i8g^.



BRITISH AND GERMAN MERCHANT MARINE.*

The industrial enterprise of England obtained a great advance over that
of all other countries chiefly from the fact that she had recourse to machine
power earlier than any continental country. In the shipping industry, also,



♦From the Handcls-Muscum, No. 34, 1895.



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CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN PRUSSIA. 1 75

England is far in advance of all other nations. She is using all her efforts
to apply steam power to her entire mercantile fleet, in order to maintain her
maritime supremacy.

Germany, however, has been doing her utmost to overtake England, and
the German merchant marine is continually coming nearer to the English
in efficiency. The number of vessels belonging to each country is as fol-
lows:



^**^- vessels I Tonnage-



Number of T^„_^„„ I Number of '



steamers.



Tonnage.



^'"«'^"^ ! 25,195 6,574,5«3 5.247 2,723.468

^^'"^"y 4.660 1,181,525 414 215,758

1894. I ! I '

England * j 21,327 ' 8,788,503 8,088 ' 5,740,243

Germany ^ I 3,729 1,522,058 1,016 823,702



The total number of vessels has been considerably reduced, because
smaller ships have gradually given place to larger vessels. This appears at
once from the considerable increase of tonnage. As regards the increase of
steamers in particular, this was much greater relatively in Germany than in
England, although the total number of steamers possessed by England still
exceeds that of Germany by about eight times. It is worth notice that the
German steamers are considerably larger than the English; for instance,
while a German steamer shows an average tonnage of 810. 7, that of England
IS only 709.7. It follows that while the English steamers increased in num-
ber by 54.1 per cent in the above thirteen years, their tonnage was only
about doubled, whereas in Germany, while the number of steamers was some-
what more than doubled, the tonnage was almost quadrupled. At the begin-
ning of 1 88 1, German steamers possessed an average capacity of 521.2
registered tons; at the beginning of 1894, this had risen to 810.7 tons.
This, too, shows plainly the great development of the German steamship

lines.

THEODORE M. STEPHAN,

Consu/,
Annaberg, November 4^ iSgs-



CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN PRUSSIA.

Although there are in all civilized countries chambers of commerce or
corresponding institutions, whose object it is to act on behalf of those inter-
ested in trade and industry, there is great variety in their constitutions and
in their relations with the state. In some countries, as in England and her
colonies and in the United States, the chambers are voluntarily constituted
associations of merchants and others, who combine for the purpose of pro-
jecting commercial interests and provide the necessary finances for this work



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176 CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN PRUSSIA.

by means of annual subscriptions. In other countries, they are directly
allied with the government, as is the case with the state boards in Hamburg,
Bremen, and Liibeck.

Between these two extremes of private associations and direct state con-
nection, the chambers .of commerce of other countries may be said to lie.
The French chambers of commerce were the first to come into existence, and
in Prussia, they were first established in those parts using, the French legal
code — Cologne, Aix la Chapelle, and other towns — by a decree dated March
23, 1802. A law was passed by the Prussian Parliament on February 11,
1848, providing that the merchants of any town, where the want appeared
to exist, could institute a chamber of commerce, subject to obtaining the
royal assent. As a result of that law, several chambers were founded in other
parts of Prussia.

When the area of Prussia was extended by the addition of Hanover,
Hesse, Nassau, Frankfort, etc., a new law in regard to these chambers seemed
to be necessary to secure uniformity over the whole state, and, in 1868, a
bill was laid before the Prussian Parliament for this purpose. Just at that
period, the Manchester party of Germany was at the height of its power,
proclaiming the doctrine of economic freedom and denouncing State in-
terference with economic affairs. When the bill was referred to a special
commission for consideration, they regretted that any bill had been formu-
lated. This regret was based on their belief that chambers of commerce
should, from the beginning, have been voluntarily constituted associations.
Still, as merchants had made use of the chambers as they were, the commis-
sion thought they should be made as free as possible from State influence.

The result was a law under which a chamber of commerce has too much
freedom to make it a suitable body to act in the interests of trade and C9m-
merce. A crop of difficulties has arisen out of this anomalous position of
affairs — difficulties which would have been greater and would have caused
more frequent conflicts between the Government and the chambers had not
the strict text of the law been overlooked.

As time went on, and especially when German commerce developed after
the war with France, some amendment of the law became urgent. For sev-
eral years past, the Government has been considering a new bill, and in the
coming winter, it is expected to be placed before the Prussian Diet. In
order to ascertain the views of the chambers of commerce themselves on
several of the chief reforms which have been pressed for, the Prussian Min-
ister of Trade and Commerce sent to them, on the ist of January last, a
circular letter embodying seven questions. The circular was addressed to
the whole of the seventy- four chambers of commerce at present existing and
to the nineteen voluntary corporations — which are free from State control —
in Berlin, Stettin, etc.

The first of these questions was, whether it was necessary to extend the
system of chambers of commerce all over Prussia, and, if in the affirmative,
what should be th? size q{ the chambers and how should their spheres of



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CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN PRUSSIA. 1 77

influence or action be fixed. Of the chambers of commerce, sixty, and of
the corporations, one, replied " Yes'' as to the desirability of extension of the
system, considering it necessary in the interests both of the Government and
of trade and industry.

They pointed out that, as the Government was at present situated, it did
not know whether, in adopting any particular course of action, it was acting
in the interests of the whole country, since it would only learn the views of
chambers representing a part of the country ; that certain work which could
be performed better by chambers of commerce than by t|ie Central Govern-
ment could not, as the law stands, be undertaken ; that it was not true that
in every district in which the desire for such a body ej^isted there was a
chamber of commerce, because there were rivalries betwQen small towns, of
which every one wanted a chamber to itself, and between their disputations
it had been impossible to found any; and that more often chance and per-
sonal influence had acted than the pressure of real need.

The other chambers and corporations took up the line that no good would
come from an enforced cooperation between the institutions. The Berlin
corporation quoted England as having voluntary chambers of commerce, free
from control, which were more energetic and active than any association
would be if compulsorily instituted. There was great diversity of opinions
in the replies as to the size of the chambers. As to the spheres of influence
or action of the chambers, a great majority of the replies favored these being
determined by the similarity of interests in single places, while having regard
to existing circumstances ; and, while some bodies were of opinion that no
chamber of commerce should be dissolved without its own sanction first being
obtained, others considered that there should be a power of dissolution with-
out sanction to prevent the desired reforms being obstructed by personal
ambition in isolated cases.

The second question put by the minister was, whether in future the right
of voting should be conferred on (i) all firms, or (2) all firms who pay income
tax, or (3) all registered firms, or (4) all registered firms paying income tax,
or (5) all registered firms paying a certain minimum of increase tax.

It may be explained, first, that all trades and ''industrials" in Prussia
have to pay a tax on the incomes derived from their business, and they are
graded in four classes, viz, (i) incomes above $10,000, (2) incomes between
$10,000 and $4,000, (3) incomes between $4,000 and $1,000, and (4) in-
comes between $1,000 and $300 (all incomes below $300 are free); second,
that all firms, except hawkers, peddlers, and others of small business, have to
be registered in the Handelsregister ; third, that, at present, the members
of Prussian chambers of commerce are, in some instances, elected by firms,
in some cases by all firms, in others by the registered firms, and, again, by
firms falling under classes i and 2 only of the income-tax grading; in fact,
there has been variety, and no uniformity, in the method of election.

In replying to the minister's inquiry, nearly all of the chambers of com-
merce supported a limitation of the electorate or voting power to registered
No. 189 2.



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178 CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE IN PRUSSIA.

firms paying income tax, inasmuch as the others have small interests, which
would be better represented by a separate body.

The third question was, whether the right of voting should be equal in
all classes. There were many different answers forthcoming. Some cham-
bers — afraid that the shopkeepers could, by mere force of numbers, overrule
the merchants and manufacturers, who, although less in number, represent
more important interests — wished to have two electorates. Other chambers
did not fear an equal right of voting.

The fourth question was, whether there should be local subdivision. Re-
plies were of different kinds, but nearly all the chambers were opposed to
the subdivision of si^ecial trades and industries.

The fifth question was, whether chambers of commerce should have the
right to be heard by the Government before any bill relating to commerce
is presented to the Prussian Diet and Imperial Parliament. To this, all the
chambers replied, ' ' Yes. ' ' And other privileges were sought, such as the right
to be heard in respect of by-laws springing out of general laws; the right to
be heard on all questions relating to commercial treaties, traffic matters, stock-
exchange matters, the Royal Bank, technical and commercial schools, etc.
The great majority of the chambers also seek power to assist the magistrate
who keeps the Handelsregister ; to have the right of electing brokers; elect-
ing umpires (arbitrators) in all commercial affairs, appointing auctioneers,
etc. ; to give their opinions for use in courts of law and before other tribunals
dealing with commercial matters ; to issue certificates of origin ; and to ac-
quire the rights of incorporated bodies.

Question six related to the possibility of the free corporations (such as
that of Berlin) continuing to exist after a reform of the chambers of com-
merce. On this, opinions were divided.

By the seventh question, it was sought to obtain an opinion on the desira-
bility of instituting a central organization for trade and industry to assist the
Government. Nearly all the chambers of commerce replied in the negative.

The ground occupied by these questions and the suggestions made in the
replies to them do not cover the whole of the reforms which are considered
necessary, but the Government now possesses the views of the chambers, and
when their bill is presented, I will return to the subject.

There is an obvious desire on the part of all chambers to acquire extended
functions, by means of which the commercial community may secure not
only greater control over matters mainly concerning them, but a recognition,
in the proper quarter, of their views on important questions affecting their
immediate interests.

H. F. MERRin\

Consul,
Barmen, November 2j, iSg^^



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REVISION OF GERMAN LAWS. 1 79



REVISION OF GERMAN LAWS.

A notable work is nearing completion ; I refer to the revision of Ger-
man' laws. Teutonic laws, one is told, are to replace many of the old Roman
ones; the man is to be again more than the State. These, however, are
only speculations. There is a great fact, and that fact is one that should
interest us. Since 1874, Germany has been at work trying to get a homo-
geneous and uniform system of laws for the Empire. It was not a question
of need, so much as it was one of wisdom. The imperial patent law answered
a great need and demonstrated its wisdom in fifty weeks. In February, 1874,
the imperial council (Bundesrath) appointed five distinguished jurists to
express their opinions as to the best ways and means of arranging' a civil
code or law system after rough drafts had been made.

In accordance with the opinions and propositions made by this prelimi-
nary commission, the imperial council appointed a permanent commission,
nade up of eminent jurists from all parts of the Empire, whose work it then
was to piepare a sketch of such a system of laws as the press and leading
public men had for a long time led the nation to believe would be best suited
to the country's progress, peace, and happiness. On September 17, 1874,
this commission came together for the first time under the presidency of the
president of the high court of commerce, Herr Pape. This body worked
out a plan of proceedings in seven sittings.

A radical step was taken in the resolution to consult neither any known
law book nor sketch of a code, but to build out of the commission's discus-
sions a preliminary draft and to have the different parts of this edited and
worked out by men specially selected for the purpose. Each editor was to
work out his part and write out his reasons and explanations as clearly and
concisely as possible. Regular meetings were held, at which each editor
was expected to api)ear, and at which efforts were made to arrive at as simple
and uniform a system as human wisdom could devise.

This commissioa worked seven years and one month — not a long time
when one takes into consideration the difficulties to be overcome, the ex-
traordinary and tiresome collecting and sifting of materials.

The work of the editors alone, /. e., the revising, filled nineteen printed
volumes (folio). These books were only books of reference to be used by
the editors in going over the whole. On October 1, 1880, the whole com-
mission came together to discuss the partial or preliminary sketches of each
editor and to decide finally as to the wording of each law. These discus-
sions were carried on during six years and three months. On December 17,
1887, the chairman of the commission handed the finished plan or project
to the Imperial Chancellor.

This plan, with its accompanying explanations, was published by the
Imperial Chancellor for the purpose of giving it the widest possible publicity
and gaining for it in this way the largest number of diversified opinions, and



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l8o FARM INDEBTEDNESS IN BAVARIA.

thus get rich material for the second revision. This object was successful
in the highest degree. It called out comments from all parts of the Empire.
It may be said to have originated a literature peculiar to itself. Three hun-
dred and seventy-five well-known writers took part in the discussion. Of
these, of course, the larger part were lawyers or jurists. Agriculture, politi-
cal economy, the civil service, established charities, commerce, manufac-
tures, medicine, and surgery were represented. Besides these, seventy-seven
corporations sent in opinions. To examine this vast mass of material, to
separate the chaff from the grain, to build on the balance, and to add to,
where possible, out of their own knowledge, was the task of the jurists ap-
pointed as a new commission toward the end of 1890. This commission,
like the others, was appointed by the imperial council. It differed from the
others in the fact that it had added to it thirteen men of different callings
and belonging to different political parties. This second commission worked
from April, 1891, to July, 1895, examining carefully and revising systematic-
ally and fully the first sketch; result, the second sketch — the one now before
the nation for its approval or further revision.

This system of laws, intended to replace the old Roman laws and to
give back to the Germans much that the most Teutonic in temperament had
looked upon as lost forever, is the work not of the imperial council, not of
the commissioners, not even of the jurists of Germany, but of all the people.
It is a work for the world to study and wonder at.

J. C. MONAGHAN,

Consul,
Chemnitz, February j, i8g6.



FARM INDEBTEDNESS IN BAVARIA.

The agrarian press of Germany has so persistently drawn attention to
and demanded the amelioration of the condition of the agricultural popula-
tion of the country of late that an examination into the question to ascertain
in what degree these statements were well founded could not be longer
avoided.

An official commission was recently appointed in Bavaria to make an
inquiry into the state of farm lands, the mortgages upon them, and the general
condition of the population affected, including their indebtedness other than
that covered by mortgages.

The labors of this commission are now concluded and the result of its
examination made public.

Its report differs vastly from the pessimistic descriptions in the agrarian
press, which, until now, had always claimed a much greater percentage of
indebtedness than the figures contained in the report submitted by the com-
mission show.

The investigation was conducted through he medium of the large land-
owners, who used eighty questions as a basis for their examination, and as



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FARM INDEBTEDNESS IN BAVARIA. I Si

good feeling existed between them and the agricultural population, it is fair
to assume that the result is as near the truth as possible.

Twenty-four districts scattered over Bavaria were selected and in each
of these, the eighty questions, as mentioned above, were put to the popula-
tion immediately concerned. This gave, it is thought, a fair average of the
whole country.

The principal object was to find (i) the amount of mortgage indebted-
ness and (2) the amount of current indebtedness other than mortgage.

Concerning the first question (mortgages), it was found that the value of
agricultural lands within the twenty-four districts was 28,777,084 marks
($6,848,946.02) and the total amount of mortgages entered in the public
record of mortgages was 6,461,175 marks (11,537,759.65), equal to about
22.5 per cent of the total value. This percentage varied largely in the
twenty-four districts, /. ^., in one district it was 5.21 per cent; in eight dis-
tricts, II. 6 to 17.25 per cent; in eight districts, 20.93 ^^ 29.92 per cent; in
six districts, 34.78 to 39.72 percent; in one district, 76.04 per cent.

The second important question — that of current indebtedness — was a much
more difficult one than the first, since debts of this nature are easily con-
cealed. If, however, the farmer took the same view of the situation as the
writers in the agrarian press, he would not neglect the opportunity to state
his full indebtedness and put himself in the most unfavorable light, hoping
thus to influence legislation in his behalf, which would seem to be the object
of the present agrarian agitation. The inquiry into the state of current
debts was intended to include all loans and debts not officially acknowledged
and recorded in the public mortgage book.

The total amount of such indebtedness proved to be 2,254,885 marks
(1536,662.63), or 7.84 per cent of the total value of the farm lands. This
amount would bring the indebtedness from both sources up to 30.34 per
cent.

Mortgages and other debts have increased during the last ten years,
notably within the last three years, but this increase has not been especially
rapid. The principal causes leading to this increase appear to have been
purchase at too high a price, want of sufficient working capital, and various
minor causes — for instance, in some districts, early marriage was said to have
exercised a detrimental influence. Incapacity, however, seems to play an
important role.

The condition of these twenty-four districts having become worse during
the last ten years, it is assumed, therefore, that the condition of the agricul-
tural population of the whole Empire has undergone a corresponding de-
cline.

The population of Bavaria, according to the census of 1890, was 5,594,-
982; of this total, more than one-half (50.9 per cent) were devoted to the
pursuits of agriculture, which, it is presumed, included those engaged in
forestry. The mortgage and other indebtedness would therefore appear to
be 3.06 marks (72.82 cents) per capita.



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1 82 GERMAN CRITICISMS OF AMERICAN MEATS.

The area of Bavaria is 7,585,840 hectares (18,744,611 acres), of which
93. 2 per cent is devoted to agriculture, as follows : Farm land, 50.4 per cent ;
forest land, ^^ per cent; pasture land, 5.8 per cent.

Forest land must be included as agricultural land when Germany is in
question, since these lands are under regular cultivation, the planting of and
caring for trees being systematically carried out. Forestry is an immense
industry and source of income to the landed proprietors.

I have been unable to ascertain the value of the agricultural products in
these twenty- four districts, hence I am unable to make any comparison with
the land values and indebtedness. The output is still good in most of them,
especially in those where cattle raising is carried on to any extent.

To make agriculture profitable in Germany, much yet remains to be
done — a more rational system of draining and irrigation, proper working up
of the soil, and use of fertilizers. As recently noticed in a German news-
paper, ** it is more advisable to show the peasants the proper mode of culti-
vation on the ground than to provoke misconceptions in them as to their
position and what they should claim at the hands of legislation."

THOS. EWING MOORE,

Commercial A^ent,

Wkimar, October 2^ y 1^95-



GERMAN CRITICISMS OF AMERICAN MEATS.

Some time ago, a member of a large firm in this city, importing meat
products from the United States, visited this consulate and called my atten-
tion to an official publication in this vicinity regarding the sale of seal hams



Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 188-191 → online text (page 26 of 102)