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but only by close contact with living affected animals. In other words there is plenty of positive evidence to show that the plague can be propagated by mediate contagion, and those who oppose this conclusion, rest their case on negative evidence alone. At Peoria in your own State of Illinois, there was proof positive furnished by the outbreak of 1884 to demonstrate that this plague may be propagated by mediate contagion. No animal in Mr. Bailey's herd had been in immediate contact with any diseased animal, nor had their been any possible opportunity for immediate contagion, and yet the malady was conveyed to them in a most malignant form
That the same thing is observed and recognized abroad, is shown by the following quotation from the London Agricultural Gazette, September 27, 1886: “A serious outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia has occurred at Beckenbam, in Kent, on the farm of Mr. Covell. An officer of the privy council has visited the premises, and orders have been given for the slaughter of several valuable beasts. A few months since the entire herd of cattle on Mr. Covell's farm, numbering over two hundred, were slaughtered, and although the fifty-six days required by law to elapse before fresh animals are permitted in an infected area, have long since passed, the disease has at length made its appearance in the new herd, the whole of which, it is feared, will have to be killed."
It would be no difficult matter to compile a small volume of such positive evidence bearing upon this question. Are we to suppose then that a commission which undertakes to settle such a momentous question is so absolutely ignorant of the rules of evidence as to suppose that any amount of negative testimony can be accepted as sufficient to set aside the direct and positive evidence of many skilled observers?
If a man were on trial for his life and a certain number of reliable witnesses should swear that they saw him commit the crime, would not that convict him in spite of the testimony of any number of witnesses who had seen him in company with various people on other occasions without murdering them. In other words, is it not absurd to attempt to controvert positive evidence by negative evidence? And yet this is exactly what the Commission proposes to do, and they expect “to settle the question so far as they are concerned" by the results of this single experiment.
The question of experimentation is a far more complicated one than the Commission supposes. We have plenty of evidence to show that in some cases the disease is produced by infected premises and in other cases it is not. That is to say, there are conditions of climate, of season, and of surroundings in which the disease is not propagated by mediate contagion, and there are other conditions under which it is so propagated. These conditions are very imperfectly understood, and it will require years of careful experimental investigation, by trained min is, to clear up the matter. Our only safety at present is to consider that there is always danger from mediate contagion and to guard against it by all possible precautions.
The experiment now in progress is further complicated by the fact that there has been a certain amount of disinfection. Now in case the disease does not again appear, who is to decide whether this is due to the fact that it could not be propagated by mediate contagion, under the conditions which prevailed at that time and place, or whether the virus was destroyed by the disinfection? And if there is doubt upon this point, of what possible use cau the experiment be as applied to other localities or other sheds? No one doubts that thorough disinfection will destroy the virus of any disease. The question is simply-can a given premises be thoroughly disinfected, and, if so, by what measures? And this question must be decided for each individual premises by experienced men. No single observation on however large a scale will or can be accepted by the country at large as a guide for action in all cases and under all circumstances.
Finally, I should be pleased to know when this experiment is to terminate, and at what time the Commission will feel that they can decide the premises safe in case the disease has not appeared. If the first cases developed should be mild, it might be five or six months, or even longer, before the disease could be recognized. And with a floor underlaid by a great mass of organic filth, as is the case with these stables, filth which is possibly saturated with the contagion, the removal of a few boards many months bence might set up an outbreak which would repeat all the losses, the restrictions and the burdens of various kinds that have been suffered from the present calamity.
I have been anxiously waiting month after month to hear that your Commission had adopted a vigorous and thorough policy of dealing with this plague-one that would restore confidence to the country and allow trade to go on more, free from vexatious restrictions. I had about concluded that the slaughter of the distillery cattle was the beginning of such a policy, and it is with the deepest regret that I learn of this misguided action which must have the opposite effect.
Being frequently appealed to for advice as to the necessity for local quarantines, it is apparent that it will become my duty to admit that the measures adopted in your State are not thorough, and that the Commission is not enforcing every measure which can reasonably be considered necessary to stamp out the contagion at once and for all time.
In conclusion permit me to assure you that I have had the utmost confidence in your desire to have such measures enforced as woull free Illinois in the shortest possible time from the reproach and suspicion of harboring this pestilence. It appears now doubly important that you should take such action as will leave no reason for doubt in the mind of any one as to the future policy of your
State Live Stock Commissioners. To this end I would
respectfully suggest that you cause the order of the Board in regard to refilling the Shufeldt sheds to be revoked; that the cattle in those sheds be immediately slaughtered, and that this department be given the opportunity to practice such disinfection as is desirable and possible under the circumstances.
I make this suggestion on behalf of the great cattle industry for the protection of an important part of the Nation's food supply and on behalf of an unrestricted commerce, which are together threatened through this lack of co-operation with the Department of Agriculture on the part of the Board which represents your State.
Trusting that this important matter will receive your early attention, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
NORMAN J. COLMAN, Commissioner of Agriculture.
REPLY OF THE BOARD TO THE COLMAN LETTER.
SPRINGFIELI), ILL., Jan. 13, 1887. Hon. Norman J. Colmar, Commissioner of Agriculture, Wash
ington, D. C..
SIR – We have carefully read in the public prits your communication of December 30, 1886, addressed to the Governor of this State. That communication is well calculated to arrest public attention, and, although addressed to the Governor, manifestly was intended to direct public attention to the undersigned Board of Live Stock Commissioners of the State of Illinois. Your communication seems to have been deemed of such importance as to be telegraphed to the leading papers of our western cities in order that it might be published and spread before the public before its delivery to the Governor. Notwithstanding a large number of responsible papers gave it circulation, we have been unable to discover that it had any serious effect upon any, save the Chicago Tribune, which it seems to have thrown into spasms. Deaf as the ear of that once respectable paper may be to the ordinary claims of humanity, its venerable editor always has one ear open to any slander or attack upon the officials of this State. It is gratifying to us, however, to be able to state that, fagrant and violent as its editorial was on the subject of your communication, it has not, to our knowledge, been responded to favorably by any other journal in the State or in the West. We, therefore, acting
. under a law of our State, which provides for our creation and for the manner of the discharge of our duties, without reference to what notice His Excelleney may take of your communication, deem it due the public and the great interests at stake to respond to the communication directly.
We shall not undertake uncharitably to characterize either you or the manner in which you discharge your official duties, notwithstanding you have so far forgotten the proprieties and decencies of life as to embody in that communication a groundless and vicious imputation upon our integrity. We have no special cause of quarrel with you. We only know you as the official head of the Department of Agriculture, recently called, so far as we know, from deserved and respectable obscurity to an official position of subordinate respectability in the service of the United States. We regret that the character of the assault made upon the Board of Live Stock Commissioners of the State of Illinois, provided for by law and appointed by the Governor, and voluntarily selected by him without solicitation from us, oblige us from a sense of duty, to be compelled to call publie attention to the manner in which your agents have co-operated with the State of Illinois in its efforts to deal with and suppress, if possible, the disease of pleuropneumonia. We would have remained silent under this obvious criticism had not the malignant insinuations of your communication compelled us to lay before the public certain facts which can not be otherwise than damaging to the manner in which you disebarge the duties of your office.
You evidently lay stress upon the fact of co-operation between the United States and the State of Illinois in this contest with pleuro-pneumonia. It is entirely pertinent for us to state that the State of Illinois has been in the habit of co-operating with the l'nited States most cordially for many years; in fact, long before you were known to the public, and is duly sensible of the allegiance that it owes to the United States in efforts of co-operation of any character. We come now to deal with the complaints you have spread before the country. We shall be as candid and explicit as the facts will justify. Whatever your knowledge on the subject may be, the country is aware that contagious pleuropneumouia is a pest which has only been known in the west in recent years. Enough has been known about it to convince the people that it is extremely destructive to animal life. We, in the west, lack the experience of older countries, which have suffered extremely from it. We have been willing, however, to deal with it as vigorously as our experience and our means would justify. Our State made provisions by statute enactment for the suppression of this disease as early as 1881. It was only during the last session of the legislature that a Commission was created to deal with it. One of the first difficulties the Commission had to encounter, as you are well aware, was a divided public opinion as to the existence of the disease here. There was strong opposition to a belief, in the minds of a large majority of the people, that it had any existence in the State. However, the Commission went forward in the few scattered instances where it had heen found, and dealt with it, under our limited experience and knowledge, so successfully that it was believed in the early part of 1886 that it had been entirely eradicated from the State.
Notwithstanding the best efforts we were capable of making, the existence of this disease in Cook county was successfully kept from the public knowledge until September last, when our State Veterinarian made the discovery and reported its existence to us. We had to deal, not only with the existence of the disease in its manifestations in Cook county, but had also to contend against