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Statement showing the exports from the States of Frankfort-on-the-Main,
Hesse Darmstadt, Hesse Cassci, Hesse Homburg, Nassau, and Brunswick, to the United States during the quarter ended June 30, 1863.
I have the honor to transmit herewith, under two separate covers, the general annual report for the free city of Frankfort and the surrounding German states, for the financial year ended 30th of September, 1863, marked A, together with tabular statements belonging to the same, marked A to Z and I to VI.
General annual report on the commerce, industry, and agriculture of the free city of Frankfort and the surrounding German states.
OCTOBER 1, 1863. If it were not for the circumstances of the city of Frankfort being situated in the centre of Germany, and being at the same time an independent state and the political capital of the whole country, as well as one of the principal seats of the Zollverein, it would sometimes be very difficult for me to prepare, in compliance with the consular regulations, “an annual report on the commerce, industry, and agriculture” of this free city. As regards business, Frankfort is, in fact, only the mediator of others, representing middle and southern Germany in particular, and in many respects the whole country, in commercial, industrial, and especially in its financial relations. If my report concerned the territory of Frankfort alone, it would necessarily be very short, and would offer each year but little variety, as I furnish your department regularly, from week to week, or more frequently, with every information concerning the local activity of this little republic. But as many of the small surrounding states of the German confederation are connected with my consular district, the individual business of each of which is of no greater importance than that of Frankfort, and as it is a part of my duty also to furnish a summary review of the operations of the Zollverein, there cannot fail to be abundant materials for a full report, and many of which may be of interest also for our own country.
The environs of Frankfort have always beeu counted among the principal sources of emigration and of export trade in connexion with the United States.
Our whole population, therefore, both native and adopted, is very much interested in the welfare and progress of this particular neighborhood; and it is from this central point that a general view may be taken with the most advantage.
Whenever any great political, financial, or industrial reform is expected, or is in preparation, all eyes are turned towards Frankfort; but this may be ascribed, also, in a great degree, to its historical fame from ancient times.
Frankfort, therefore, may fairly be looked upon as the actual barometer for the whole of Germany. According to the view taken of things here, the dispositioneand feeling of the whole country is influenced for good or for bad. It is from this point of view that I shall endeavor to arrange my retrospect of the commercial, industrial, and agricultural activity of Germany during the last twelve months.
Notwithstanding the many commercial crises and political embarrassments of late years, and the continued depression of all industry, yet prosperity has been constantly increasing in most of the German states. Almost everywhere the value of real estate (of which, however, I shall have occasion to speak more particularly later) has more or less 'advanced, in a greater degree almost than the demands of all classes of society and the means of satisfying them. The amount of capital invested in the different branches of business is also so much increased, that the more extensive industrial establishments are, for the most part, not only able to meet fully the demands of their respective states, but also to participate in the profit of supplying neighboring countries and more distant markets. A series of favorable crops, especially in those parts of southern Germany which depend much on the cultivation of wine, tobacco, and hops, has materially improved the pecuniary circumstances of that class of the rural population. The fertility of the soil has also evidently been much promoted wherever it has been treated according to the improved system of agriculture. The extension of the German railway-net has offered the smaller industrial classes a sure opportunity of more remunerative employment. Some progress has been made in the use of machinery and of steam-power, as well as in the equal and more proportionate division of labors. The transition from the guild system to freedom of trade has caused increased activity of production in the few states in which this change has been effected or is in contemplation. Such appearances seem to justify the opinion that the national wealth of Germany has considerably increased within the last ten years—an opinion very generally supported by the reports of the different boards of commerce.
Still, if we look back impartially at the business of the last year, the result is not so satisfactory as might be expected from these preliminary views. There are two things wanting : pưlitical unity and a proper proportion between the political and commercial relations at home and abroad.
The grand aim of all nations which compete with one another in the great markets of the world—vigor of trade and remunerative results of national laboris only to be attained when firm reliance can be placed in the institutions of the state, and when there is an assurance of a beneficial influence from iti principles of government. If, as is unfortunately the case in Germany, com merce has to suffer not only under the pressure of crises from without, but alsi from defective institutions at home, and from the reaction of internal politica discords whose result is uncertain, it cannot acquire full development of strengt] and vigor, since there is no sufficient guarantee for the ultimate success of it utmost efforts, its boldest undertakings.
The depressed state of business in Germany during the last year is to b ascribed not merely to losses, certainly heavy, in connexion with the cor tinuance of the war in our country, and the hazardous state of political affair on the old continent, but mainly to that crushing state of things which, in th appliance of means or adoption of steps leading, or intending to lead, to the solution of the German question, postponed, as it were, sine die, a solution so desirable for the peace and repose, the commerce and production of the country:
I have not here to deal with the political side of the question ; but it would be unwisely overrating the progress we are bound to acknowledge in the material welfare of the people, were we to pass over in silence the political and commercial significativeness of this state of things. Its significativeness is most portentous to trade and commerce, to traffic and industry. Never has German labor stood more in need of that internal agreement on the most important domestic questions—that internal repose and security in the continuance of that public order so indispensable for inspiring confidence in industrial activity. This confidence no longer exists. It is wanting at an important and irrecoverable moment, when all the nations of the world, with an eagerness of competition never known before, are rushing into the market with the products of their industry and in the purchase of foreign goods, mutually dispute the superiority which can only be maintained by those who have the free and unimpaired enjoyment of a sound political order of things, and of the natural advantage of their own country.
The dullness of business last year may be estimated by the low rate of discount in the Frankfort money market, which, as appears from my weekly reports, did not rise even nominally above 3 per cent., and in reality only to 2, 24 per cent.
At the present date, however, the Frankfort Bank has felt itself obliged to raise its rate of discount, and that of the private banks has increased also in consequence. The reasons for this are, indeed, very natural, and I have already adverted to them. The scarcity of money here, arising from the increased demand, is only temporary, and is caused partly by the large amounts required every year about this time after harvest) for the purchase of agricultural produce, and partly by the unusually extensive speculation, during the last three years, in real estate, especially in town lots and building ground. Speculators have evidently invested, or rather risked too largely in that way, always endeavoring to raise funds on mortgage, &c., so that at last there was danger of capital failing for the ordinary exchange operations. In order, therefore, to meet such an emergency, the bank was obliged to raise its rate of discount onehalf per cent.
This universal rage for speculation in building and in land is indeed a dangerous sign of the times. Should peace continue, or affairs turn out to be more seeure than at present, such speculators might become wealthy. *
Within my own experience of two years' residence, several new quarters have arisen in this city; not composed of dwellings suitable for the trading and laboring classes, who, even in the most critical times, are able to earn a living by their own exertions, but of buildings like palaces, fitted only for those who depend merely on the dollars in their coffers and the bonds in their iron safes, and who, should these be destroyed by fire, or the obligations cancelled by repudiation, would be either utterly ruined or at the mercy of the enemy.
But, not to be led away by these warlike presentations, I return to the consideration of the peaceful industry of Frankfort, especially during the last year. It cannot be denied that the authorities have of late done much for the improvement of commerce and trade. The most important step was the establishment of a really active board of trade. There was one in existence already, but it was only intrusted with, or, at least, only occupied itself with, the actual exchange business. Its control is now extended over all the commercial relations of the city, under the direction of a judge and a number of notaries public. As there is no special court of commerce, this branch of the board is attached to one of the city courts, to which the said judge belongs. It publishes, from time to time, an official list or register of all new commercial firms, &c., but no commercial reports as yet, which are very much wanted for a city of such importance. This deficiency is supplied, in a great part, by the statistical section of the “Frankfort Society for Geography and Statistics,” some of the members of which have recently directed much of their attention to commercial statistics specially.
Some progress, also, is perceptible in commercial science. A commercial school, under the direction of Dr. William Roebrig, was established last year by the Polytechnic Society, and a few weeks ago an “academy for commerce and trade” has been opened under the same auspices. In the school first mentioned (many similar institutions of which already exist in Germany) young men are more practically educated—that is, they are prepared so far as to be able to enter a counting-house; they are instructed in the different modern languages, book-keeping, banking business, knowledge in goods, &c., &c. The academy, however, which, as far as I know, is the first which has been established not only in Germany, but even in Europe, and perhaps the whole world, has a far higher aim, as it is intended more for the mental improvement of the future merchant or banker; and it has a very great advantage in Frankfort, possessing so many celebrated and learned scholars in all branches of science, so as to be able to supply the commercial students with the most able lecturers.
Of other new establishments relating to commerce and industry I have to mention the " Exchange for Agricultural Produce," the "korse fairs," (on both of which I have fully reported before,) and the “permanent exhibition of machinery of Messrs. Sountag & Wirth.” The latter very useful establishment, as yet the only one in Germany, contains an extensive apartment of machines of all kinds and for every purpose, both steam and hand power, and its principal object is to disseminate the knowledge of all new inventions of that nature. The directors took, of course, a great interest in the late "international exhibition” at Hamburg, and have since, by their exertions, introduced into Germany a great number of the American machines exhibited on that occasion. Recently, at my suggestion, they put themselves in communication with Mr. William Lee, of the well-known New York and London Steam Fire-engine Company," of W. Lee & Co.
I beg to add here a few remarks on American machines already imported into Germany and on those which still appear to be desirable. The principal articles of machinery as yet exported from the United States, with the exception of steam fire-engines, are sewing and agricultural machines and machines for working woods. There are also machines for the preparation of caoutchouc, (gutta-percha,) of which several have been imported lately for the establishment of a factory. This factory was to be crected in the neighborhood of Frankfort, but, as no suitable place could be found, and there were also legal difficulties, the promoters of the undertaking, Messrs. Oscar Falke & Co., of New York, removed to Mannheim, where another American manufactory of gutta-percha already exists, under the management of Mr. Howell.
Induced by the rise of wages, as well as by the extraordinary increase of the building mania, the carpenters, house-carpenters, wheelwrights, &c., looked after machines for the working of wood, in which the Americans have long been known to be the best. The exhibition in London, and lately that in Hamburg, at which several English and American machines for working wood were shown in active operation, encouraged people to procure them. For some years past public attention has been directed to the superiority of American machines in working wood in the "Arbeitgeber,” (workmen's employer,) a journal edited by the well-known writer on national economy, Max Wirth, who lately published a German translation of the “Principles of Social Science," of the American Carey, accompanied by a preface. În consequence, when Messrs. Sountag & Wirth's exhibition of machinery, whose organ the “ Arbeitgeber" is, was opened, numerous inquiries for such machinery were made at that establishment; but, as is often the case with new inventions, no one would undertake the risk of making a beginning and of ordering over machines on his own account. It would be of great advantage to the American manufacturers of machinery if they would, respectively, like Messrs. Lee & Co. and the Amoskeag Company, arrange to send over specimens here and exhibit them. Foreign machines enjoy the privilege of exemption from duty as long as they are in the exhibition here, and in being sold to foreign countries, therefore, they can still be delivered duty free.
The attention of the manufacturers here has also been turned lately to the new American machines for working hemp and flax, which was a desideratum in Germany, as so many had been brought into use already here, although none with a perfectly satisfactory result. For such articles as these, also, American machine manufacturers might find a good sale. The best example of this may be seen in what took place with respect to the sewing machine. This had been in use and its excellency universally acknowledged many years before it found its way into Germany. Its usefulness was pointed out by the journal already mentioned as early as the year 1856, and yet it was not until 1860 that an agency for sewing machines was established.
The celebrated manufactory of Grover & Baker was the first that contributed to it; that of Wheeler & Wilson followed two years after, and now there are three agencies in existence in this city which only deal in sewing machines, and those chiefly American. Had American manufacturers given such inducements earlier, they would have gained many years, and might have been in possession of the whole market.
A closer connexion in business with Germany, and especially with Frankfort, would conversely be of great advantage to the Americans also, since they would become better acquainted with German inventions, which now appear among us only rarely, and under other forms. A mechanician of this place has, as already mentioned in my last annual report, taken out a patent for a machine for husking com, which it seems is as yet imperfect, but might be of greatest service to America, as it enables from ten to fifteen per cent. more flour to be obtained from grain than hitherto. A similar process has been invented lately by a manufacturer in Bavaria; and if this also, which has not been made known, should prove to be imperfect, it might still, perhaps, serve to put American inventors on the right path, and lead them, with their practical talent for such things, at last to find out what is required. The same may be said respecting a new mode of preserving corn by an apparatus which is shortly to be exhibited here, and has been already introduced into Hamburg.
As regards Frankfort as a place of commerce specially, it may be interesting to glance at the history and importance of the river Main, by which its name is distinguished. Assuming, then, the geographical position of the Main in general to be known, I may mention that besides Bavaria, which has the largest extent of bank on that river, Grand Ducal Baden possesses, on the left bank, an extent of seven leagues, from above Westheim to below Frendenburg, Grand Ducal Hesse one of twelve leagues, from above Seligenstadt the whole way to the Mainspitze, at Main, with the exception of two leagues of Frankfort territory, which is situated between, and of a little district of about half a league, (Schwanheim,) opposite to Hochst, and belonging to Nassau, while on the right bank Electoral Hesse has an extent of five leagues, from below Dettingen as far as to behind Mainkur, the free city of Frankfort one of two leagues, half way to Hochst, and the Duchy of Nassau a similar one of six leagues, from thence as far as half way to Hockheim, Kostheim belonging to Grand Ducal Hesse.
The navigability of the Main (for rafts) begins as high up as Mamleis, in