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So far as Belgium is concerned, that rebellion has, to be sure, put a stop to the movement of American cotton, rice, tobacco, and turpentine ; but it has, by the same process, given to American shipping the long and profitable transportation of rice and cotton from India and guano from Peru, and the bringing of turpentine from Sweden; and no doubt will be held, except by most interested of parties, that a sum so added to American profits should overvalue any greater one which might be destined to extend human slavery.
The employment of the products of our revolted States has almost entirely ceased in the district of this consulate, without any apparent serious detriment to it; while consumption of the products of our loyal States rapidly increases here, to the evident advantage of both producers and consumers.
American grain, meats, fruits, woods, and oil, are daily becoming of more importance to this dense and rapidly increasing population; and their consumption will soon be restricted only by Belgian power to pay. Expensive lands, traversed by frequent ditches and hedges, and tilled principally with the spade, cannot well compete with our cheap, broad prairies, where ponderous steam-ploughs turn unbroken furrows for miles in length; and Belgian grain fields are being turned into gardens and fruit-yards for the gratification of the 3,000,000 throats of London and ultimate benefit of our western wheat-growers.
Carbon oil, which I have been at some pains to introduce here, now promises also to displace a considerable branch of agriculture in this district, by putting a stop to growth of rape and linseed. Although this is the first year of its introduction, one million five hundred thousand gallons have already arrived, and future reports will exhibit a traffic startling in extent and rapidity of growth.
Thanks to our inventive genius and free use of machinery, several articles of our manufactures are coming into use here among a people who can retain manual labor at only twenty-five cents a day. Many more exchanges of what we grow and what we make by machinery, for what must yet be manufactured by hand, could be profitably made.
Increase of our tariff upon importations does not yet scem to have reduced the amount of exports from this district, and the check which took place a year ago appears to have been but temporary, though of course a part of this overcrowded population must in time know that it is to its advantage to manufacture our materials for us nearer our own homes.
Many of the glass-mills that were stopped for want of orders from our country are again in full blast, and considerable quantities of such window and mirror glass as is commonly known in our market as “ French plate” are going forward.
The cloth-mills, too, for some time much engaged on military cloths fo rebels, seem to have returned to their more legitimate trade of supplying ou citizens with the lower grades of dark cloths and cassimeres, generally sold a English.
Of laces, although well aware that they constitute a principal source of com merce between this country and ours, I can only report that I believe they ar generally smuggled.
Chicory has been a considerable article of export from Antwerp to New Yor during the past year. As it is an agreeable and wholesome adulterant for coffee there is no reason why we should not make use of it; but, as it may be cheapl raised in any of our States, there would hereafter be as much reason in ou buying maize in Italy as chicory in Belgium.
I say above that a part of this overcrowded population must in time discov its advantage in emigrating to our country. Five millions of industrious peopl of medium capacity, prudence, and ambition, will not much longer content then selves within a territory equal in extent only to one of our smaller States, th
holds no very great guperiority of commercial position, and where the advantages for manufacturing for other states are daily diminishing.
FEBRUARY 24, 1863. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular No. 30, making certain inquiries as to the mode of passing goods across the national frontier.
All goods, with but few exceptions, pass through the kingdom of Belgium free of duty; but, in order to protect the government against frauds, the following precautions are taken by the custom-house officers during the passage of goods from one frontier to another, viz: All goods on entering, and during their transit through Belgium, are placed under seal, and a custom-house permit is forwarded with the goods, which must be presented at the frontier from which the goods are exported. If the permit is not returned within six months to the place of its issue, then the duties must be paid by the party who entered the same for transit.
There is another mode of transit called “direct transit.” Under this form the goods remain under the immediate control of the custom-house authorities; during their passage through Belgium they are placed in a car locked up by a custom-house officer, who retains the keys until they arrive at the national frontier. If this mode is selected, then the custom-house authorities assume all responsibility, and the person sending the goods can under no circumstances be held responsible.
May 12, 1863 In my despatch No. 18, written in reply to your inquiry whether, by the laws of Belgium, an oath administered by me is valid, I had the honor to inform you that I sent a copy of your despatch to Mr. Sanford, our minister at Brussels, who then submitted the question to the minister of justice of Belgium, who, on his part, promised to investigate the subject and give his opinion.
I have now the honor to forward that opinion, as contained in the following copy of a despatch received from Mr. Sanford :
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
Brussels, May 5, 1863. Ste: In reply to your inquiry touching the validity of oaths administered by consular officers of the United States, in virtue of the act of July 14 last, to those sending merchandise to the United States, I have to inform you that, in the opinion of the proper authority here, such oaths have no legal effect in this
A. W. CRAWFORD, Esq.,
U.S. Consul, Antwerp.
Ghext--MARINUS LEVISON, Consul.
JUNE 24, 1863. I have the honor to confirm my respects of the 18th of May last, and to remit you herewith my report on the commerce and industry of this consular district for the year 1862.
H. Ex. Doc. 41-18
General report upon the commerce and industry of the district of Ghent for the
T'he condition of divers branches of the commerce and industry of this province, bad already in 1861, by reason of the dearness of the alimentary commodities, and from the prejudices which inspired the European policy, became more severe during the year 1862. All kinds of business hvae been affected, though at different degrees, by the unfortunate events of which North America has been the theatre.
An abundant harvest, as well in the cereals as in grass and potatoes, has produced a marked depression in the price of provisions. The temperature has been exceptionally mild, and has permitted the continuance of a diversity of operations to which the frost has usually interposed obstructions.
This concurrence of circumstances, united to the activity of the flax establishments, has contributed to mitigate the effects of the crisis upon the laboring population in the localities where they had not directed themselves to the cotton industry. But among these last, and especially in the city of Ghent, and in the adjacent villages, where reside numerous cotton artisans, the sufferings have been very severe. It is but just to say, that these people endure these sufferings with remarkable resignation—a position as cruel as it is unmerited. From all parts, however, succor has come to them with liberal earneatness.
Every one has done his duty. The authorities, as individuals, have sought all the practicable means to mitigate afflictions endured with such perfect calmness. The public subscriptions, private contributions, and the establishnents of benevolence, have alleviated the misery in every manner possible.
In the city of Ghent, the municipal authorities, with the assistance of the state, as well as the commercial and industrial circles, have lent a most laudable co-operation with the public assistance, in organizing relief measures of every description, and in causing the construction of public roads especially, for some time, by workmen wholly deprived of wages.
The general slackening of work in the principal industries has brought about a corresponding diminution in the commerce of raw materials.
Flax and hemp alone have given place to an importation much heavier than the preceding year, which has been raised to the figure of 4,327,202 kilogrammes.
The commerce of the colonial commodities and of the fruits has been regular. It is the same thing with building timber.
The languor in industrial and commercial affairs has left a great deal of capital without employment; and an abundance of silver has necessarily produced a reaction on the rates of discount.
The mean rate of discount of the National Bank during the year 1862 was 3.43 per cent.
MARITIME COMMERCE AND TRANSPORTATION.
The maritime commerce of this city is principally sustained by the importations of raw materials, designed for the workshops, and of some commodities of great consumption.
The unfavorable situation of the greater part of the industries, and the sufferings of the working population, sufficiently explain the reductions which have been signalized in the commerce of the raw material and of certain commodities.
On the other hand, the abundance of the cereal crop and of the grasses has exempted commerce from having recourse to the importation of grain, of the oleaginous seeds, of oil-cakes, and of rice, as considerably as in preceding years.
The decrease of maritime commerce ought to be attributed principally to these different causes. It represents a movement of less than five thousand marine tons,
As a set-off, the relations with England by steam vessels, notwithstanding the decrease of importations of cotton-wool, have not ceased to be expanded. The arrivals of steamers from England were increased in 1862, to the number of ninety, representing fifteen thousand tons.
This number was divided as follows : Arrivals from London....
24 Arrivals from Goole
56 Arrivals from Hull
The internal navigation between this city and Holland was stationary for a great number of years ; it has been raised to the figure of fourteen thousand by the rivers.
The average tonnage of sea vessels entered this port during the year 1862 was 164.
Aside from the outward cargoes of steamers, the exports by sea principally consist of refined sugars, hard or refractory products, inaterials for railroads, charcoal and oils.
Here follows a table of the maritime navigation of this port during the year 1862, compared with the year 1861:
Cotton industry-spinning manufactories.-At no epoch has a crisis so terrible as that which has raged the greater part of a year weighed so oppressively upon the cotton industry.
In 1861 enormous quantities of manufactured products encumbered the warehouses of the entire world and rendered sales very difficult. In 1862, notwithstanding the successive reductions which the production was subjected to, the offers of manufactures have again exceeded the demand-the outlet, priucipally through the interior market, has failed. The price of cotton products, never having been correspondent with the price of the raw material, is to-day four times greater than formerly.
The quantity of cotton wool-consumed in Belgium in the year 1860 was about 15,378,000 kilogrammes, and in 1861, 14,732,000. We then can estimate that at the commencement of the American war the operations of the cotton manufactories in Belgium produced an annual consumption little less than fifteen millions of kilogrammes of cotton-wool. In 1862, the importations were 5,406,000 kilogrammes-36 per cent., grant it, of the average of fifteen millions. If we reflect that at the beginning of the year 1862 there was among the traders whatever manufacture of the supplies of a certain importance existed, while on the 31st December of 1862 there was no stock of raw materials on hand, one may perceive that the work of our manufactories has advanced 30 per cent. o the labor of an ordinary year. Now, the English statistics estimate at five and a half millions of bales the quantity of cotton consumed annually in the whole world; and at eighteen hundred bales only, say about 32 per cent. of the total amount of that quantity for the year 1862. This simple comparison establishes that the efforts of the manufacturers of this city to sustain work are not less than those employed elsewhere.
Weaving - The weaving establishments have suffered from the crisis, as well as all branches directly depending on the cotton industry. A great many have been entirely suspended. Others have been only worked in part. manufacture of the heavy articles has totally ceased, the sale having become impossible.
The weaving of fancy articles, with which the Ghent market has been en cumbered, has been equally suspended. The light articles are the only ones which can be produced with a disadvantage less marked. In general, the re