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BY THOMAS F. MILLARD.
ΝΟ one can spend any time in the investi
gation of commercial conditions in central Europe without hearing the name of Urbain J. Ledoux, who, up to April 4 last, was American Consul at the capital of the old kingdom of Bohemia. Mr. Ledoux is young and has been in the consular service only a few years, yet his personality is discussed in quarters where obscure officials of the State Department are seldom heard of.
There seems to be a variety of opinion about this young man. In the State Department at Washington, where busy and bored officials have been compelled to attend to his persistent recommendations, he is known as "the man with a system," and while hardly looked upon as a nuisance, except by the time-serving barnacles found in every government service, he seems to be good-naturedly regarded as an enthusiastic youth whose exuberance may be tempered by time and red-tape. Where he has been stationed his energy has invariably attracted the notice of the business community, while his pushing of American trade is highly appreciated by commercial organizations in America. So I went to Prague to see what Ledoux and his "system might be like. As to the man, he is, as his name indicates, of French descent, and he hails from Maine. Immediately after completing his education he became impressed with the idea that the consular service of the United States offered a career for a young man will ing to work hard. This idea is so contrary to common opinion that it at once stamps him as a man with original views of life. Having got this idea firmly fixed in his mind, Ledoux undertook to get an appointment. He was not active in the politics of his State and had the backing of no part of the party organization, but he made a systematic campaign for the position, and finally, after many discouragements and vicissitudes, got it. His first appointment was to a post in Canada, where he began to work out the idea that has developed into his sys
After working upon it for two or three years in the intervals of his regular duties, Ledoux determined to try to secure the attention of the State Department for his
scheme. He went to Washington, and after considerable difficulty received permission to explain his system to some of the higher officials. Some of these, it appears, were favorably impressed; but there was no fund from which money to establish an experimental branch in some consulate could be drawn, and in the constant shifting among the upper officials Ledoux and his embryonic system dropped back into obscurity. It secured enough attention, however, to gain favorable recommendations from experienced men in the State and Commerce departments, which were pigeon-holed along with Ledoux's requests that it be given a trial. The matter languished until one of the constant reshufflings of the service brought Ledoux to Prague, some three years ago. Hardly had he settled at his new post when he began to work at his system again. He got no financial aid from the State Department, but at last received permission to establish his system in the Prague consulate provided he could do so without exceeding the regular expense allowance. Most men would have been discouraged by such lukewarm sympathy, but Ledoux regarded the permission as a victory, and set to work. He has been compelled to use his private means to some extent in order to provide the necessary paraphernalia, which, as he is dependent upon his salary, entailed some personal sacrifice. But he counts all this as nothing compared with the fact that the system is actually in operation at Prague, though somewhat handicapped by inadequate facilities and department isolation.
Let Ledoux himself speak here:
After entering the consular service, as soon as I could begin to grasp what was involved in the work, I conceived the idea that, under but a sort of national drummer, whose business modern conditions, a Consul is really nothing is to try to stimulate and create trade for his country. On occasions when I have used this phrase in conversation with some of my conand I am conscious that it may appear so to frères they have deprecated it as undignified, many who hold the old ideas. But I think that my idea is correct, fundamentally, and may in time become recognized as the working principle of this branch of the Government service. With a few exceptions our consuls have nothing else to do but concern themselves about commercial affairs. No man can rise above the level of his
work as long as he does it; so why keep up pretenses which modern conditions seem to have rendered obsolete?
I had not been long in the service before I realized that it is one thing to attend to business and quite another thing to create business. I think that a consulate should not confine itself to attending merely to such national business as comes within its territory, but should make an effort to create new business. This belief, which has grown upon me as I have had more experience, provides the foundations for the idea which I have incorporated into my system, so far as I have developed it. My idea is, fundamentally, that trade may be created by intelligent effort where none has previously existed, and I think that this should be made a part of the regular consular duties.
The system chiefly rests upon what Ledoux calls the "Commercial Intelligence Department," which is divided into four sections, as follows:
(a) Commercial records, consisting of card indexes, catalogues, folders, etc.
(b) Reading-room and trade information indexes.
(c) System for the simplification of commercial correspondence.
(d) System of mercantile co-operation. The commercial records section consists of sectional cabinets of the ordinary office type, containing record cards indexed alphabetically, and catalogues and folders indexed numerically. In the Prague consulate these records are divided into two branches,American and Bohemian. Each of the two subdivisions is also divided as follows:
2. Bohemian importers and articles imported.
For instance, the index card of an American firm doing, or desiring to do, business in Bohemia, will contain this information: Name and address.
Code address and codes used.
Export discounts and terms of payment. Language used in business correspondence. References.
Nature of exports or imports.
List of foreign branches and agents. Catalogues, prices current, discount sheets, circulars, small samples, photographs, etc.
All this data can thus be obtained at an instant's notice. Suppose a merchant in
Prague desires to learn where in America he can purchase a certain article. He goes to the American consulate and states his desire to a clerk. The clerk simply turns to the index file, where under a heading are listed all the principal firms selling such articles, and, pulling out a drawer, he finds cards which afford all the necessary information at a glance. Here is an incident which actually occurred in Prague a short time ago: A large contractor found that he needed a quantity of locks of a certain pattern, which could not be obtained in Prague. While he was wondering how and where he could secure them quickly, a friend suggested that he inquire at the American consulate. He did so, and found that a leading American manufacturer made a lock which exactly suited his purpose, and that a firm in Hamburg had the agency for Europe. A telegram to Hamburg resulted in the delivery of the locks at Prague within a week. But for the Ledoux system this order might have gone to some German factory, and the American firm would have lost the business. And this is but one of many such cases.
American exporters have long recognized the fact that one of the greatest difficulties in securing new customers abroad is the long wait that must elapse between the time when the prospective buyer writes for detailed information and the receipt of a reply. Often further correspondence is necessary, and months may pass before any actual business is done. The elimination of all this letterwriting is a prime object of the Ledoux system, and the illustration just given shows how it works.
When he secured permission from the State Department to try his plan Ledoux bought a mimeograph and set out to write to every manufacturer and commercial house in the United States which had reputable rating in the commercial agencies, requesting the information needed to prepare his index, and soliciting catalogues and samples. He also wrote to every American trade newspaper, asking that a copy be sent to the Prague consulate to be kept on file in the reading-room. At first responses were slow in coming, but failing to get a reply to his first letter the indefatigable Consul would write again, and keep it up until he either got what he wanted or decided that he could not get it at that time. To do all this extra work it was often necessary for the Consul and his assistants to work at night; in fact, it is not too much to say that the greater
part of the labor of establishing the system portunity bulletins" are issued, pointing out here has been done outside office hours. Le chances to sell American products, giving doux has economized in other departments lists of undertakings of all kinds where wherever it was possible without hampering American bidders might secure contracts, their efficiency, and has used his private with the character and cost of the proposed means to provide the furniture of the file work. American firms interested in such and reading rooms. matters may learn from these bulletins that Besides the features already described a certain city is going to install an electric there are various auxiliary branches. Ledoux lighting plant, of a specified character, to has what he calls his trade experiences series of reports, in which he gives actual examples, as they come to his notice, of trade difficulties occurring between the two countries, with suggestions for improvement. An inquiry department" provides prompt and reliable information about credits and helps to secure prompt payments and collections. This information is obtained through leading banks in Bohemia, which have undertaken to supply it gratis in consideration of the business it may bring to them. "Op- cards reading as follows:
cost so much; they may learn the date when the bids must be received, and the name of the person to whom bids are to be sent, or who can supply full information. To secure this information all the leading Bohemian journals are daily read, and clippings made from them and filed for reference. All the incoming American papers are also read, and leading articles indexed. Bohemian merchants or commercial agents are upon application provided by the consulate with postal
Prague, Bohemia, Austria.
The writer, being interested in the sale of your line of merchandise in Bohemia, would thank you to favor him at your earliest convenience with your latest catalogue and export price-list.
In addition to this direct encouragement enterprise of exporters and manufacturers in to Bohemian merchants the system extends America. In this connection there are postal through the consulate a sort of prod to the cards which read:
Prague, Bohemia, Austria.
Gentlemen—I have the honor to inform you that..
are interested in the introduction of the following articles into Bohemia, and desire to be favored with your catalogues and prices.
On the address side of this series of cards contends that while its introduction into a is printed "Commercial Intelligence De- single consulate involves additional expense partment, American Consulate, Prague, Bo- and labor, if handled by the department in hemia, Austria." This establishes a pre- Washington it would result in great advansumption that the requests are worthy of at- tage to our foreign trade, and would moretention, since the cards are given only to over actually reduce consular expenses. He persons known to the consulate with whom sums up the matter thus, tersely: "The profitable business relations may be opened. system adopted at this consulate, forming Consul Ledoux's ambition is to have his what I call the Commercial Intelligence system thoroughly worked out by the Depart- Department, is the application of modern ment of State and put into operation in every commercial methods to modern consular United States consulate in the world. He duties."
NEW TESTS FOR THE CONSULAR SERVICE.
class; (4) the board of examiners for ad-
The highly important executive order referred to above provides for a complete reclassification of the consuls-general and consuls of the United States into nine classes. Class I consists of two consuls-general (at London and Paris), at a salary of $12,000 per annum; class 2 of six consuls-general (at Berlin, Hamburg, Havana, Hong-Kong, Rio Janeiro, and Shanghai), at $8000; class 3 of eight consuls-general (at Calcutta, Cape Town, Constantinople, Mexico City, Montreal, Ottawa, Vienna, and Yokohama), at Other significant provisions of the order $6000; class 4 of eleven consuls-general, at are to the effect that no promotion shall be $5500; class 5, eighteen consuls-general, at made except for efficiency and conduct, that $4500; class 6, nine consuls-general, at $3500,"neither in the designation for examination and class 7, three consuls-general, at $3000. There is one Consul of the first class (at Liverpool) at a salary of $8000, and one of the second class (at Manchester) at a salary of $6000. The office of Consul is graded into nine classes, the seven following those already mentioned being remunerated at graded salaries from $5000 to $2000.
or certification or appointment will the po-
The first regular examination of candi-
Stripped of its technical and legal verbiage, the provisions of the order are: (1) Vacancies in the office of Consul-General and in the office of Consul above class 8 (salary, $2500) shall be filled by promotion from the lower grades of the service, based upon "ability and efficiency, as shown in the service"; (2) vacancies in the office of Consul of these two remaining classes, 8 and 9, are to be filled (a) by promotion, "on the basis of ability and efficiency, as shown in the service," of consular clerks, vice-consuls, and consular agents, and (b) by new appointments from candidates who have passed an examination; (3) officials in the service of the Department of State, with salaries of $2000 or upward shall be eligible for promotion, always on the basis of ability and efficiency, as shown in the service, to any grade of the consular service above the eighth service.
The examination consisted of an oral and a written one, the two counting equally. It was intended by the oral examination to determine the candidate's character, disposition, address, personal appearance, manners, physical health, judgment, discretion, experience, general business capacity, and good command of spoken English. The written examination included French, German, or Spanish, and the other subjects mentioned in the executive order. Eighteen candidates were examined, and ten passed. The highest rating was that of Mr. Edward J. Norton, of Tennessee, whose rating was 86.68.
After a proper formal declaration as to citizenship, personal history, and experience, and also as to the sincerity and honesty of the answers given, the applicant, at the first examination, was required to secure 80 per cent. in answering the following questions. By the courtesy of the Department of State we are permitted to publish the list, in order to give the general public an idea of the scope and character of the questions. Future examination papers, of course, will be different in detail, and they will not be published:
I. The candidate was required to make a close translation into idiomatic English of one business letter (French, German, or Spanish,— whichever he chose) on the examination sheet, and to retranslate into the language chosen a specimen business communication in English.
II. The questions on the natural, industrial, and commercial resources and commerce of the United States were as follows: (1) What causes have contributed to the growth of the iron and steel industries in the United States? (2) In 1885 the price per barrel of flour in New York was $12; at the close of the century it was less than $5. How was the decrease in price brought about. (3) What is the rank of the United States in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and merchant marine? What is our rank in export trade? (4) State some of the requirements for the development of a large foreign commerce, and what countries are our chief competitors for foreign trade? (5) Name the States or cities as called for below which lead in the production or manufacture of wheat, rice, tobacco, meat products, leather, glass, gold, silver, sheep, agricultural implements, boots and shoes, and cotton goods.
III.-Political Economy. (1) Define political economy and name three great works on this subject. (2) Of what advantage to a Consul is a knowledge of the principles of political economy? (3) State some of the principal reasons for taking at stated times a census of population and industries, especially with reference to manufactures and agriculture. (4) State some of the advantages of foreign exchange in canceling indebtedness between merchants of different countries. Why is exchange on London or New York preferable to exchange on
IV. International, Maritime, and Commercial Law. (1) Define international law, and distinguish between public and private interna(2) The United States having detional law. clared its neutrality in a given case, may an American citizen build, equip, and sell a war vessel to either belligerent? If so, under what conditions? (3) What were the rules adopted at the Declaration of Paris? (4) Define citizenship and domicile. What are the effects of naturalization upon the status of the individual in the country of his birth, in the country of his adoption, and in other countries? Discuss the nationality of married women. (5) Give three conditions essential to the validity of a treaty. Distinguish between a de facto and a de jure gov government. (6) In general, what papers are necessary to determine the nationality of a vessel? (7) Define the status of public vessels and their crews while in foreign waters, and of private vessels and their crews while in foreign waters. (8) What is meant by salvage, demurrage, general average, bottomry? (9) What is a bill of lading, an invoice, a power of attorney, a draft? (10) What is a foreign bill of exchange? Name the three original parties to a bill of exchange. Discuss briefly the liability of an agent and his principal.
V.-American History, Government, and Institutions. (1) How, when, and from whom was the contiguous territory of the United States acquired; the non-contiguous territory? (2) By what treaty was the War of 1812 with Great Britain terminated? When was that treaty signed and when was it ratified? What important battle was fought after the treaty was signed, and by whom were the opposing forces in that battle commanded? (3) How is the President of the United States chosen, and what are the constitutional requirements for eligibility to the office? (4) Name the executive departments to the federal Government, and state the principal functions of each. Where in the American Government is the treaty-making power vested?
VI.-Political and Commercial Geography. (1) What countries, independent or otherwise, border on the Mediterranean Sea? (2) Under what sovereignty are the following places: Jerusalem, Hong-Kong. Vladivostok, Montevideo, Havre, Calcutta, the Azores, Yokohama, Vera Cruz, Johannesburg, Christiania, Antwerp, Edinburgh, Halifax, Tangier? (3) What country produces the largest supply of cane sugar, of beet sugar? Name the country which refines the most petroleum, the one which is the largest exporter of raw silk, and the one which makes the most wine. (4) What is the principal export of Argentine Republic, Brazil, Chile? (5) Name the bodies of water through which a ship would pass on the shortest all-water route going from Bombay, India, to Dover, England. Name the two chief exports the ship would carry to England.
VII. Arithmetic. Under this head the applicant was required to solve four problems.-one in simple arithmetic, one in methods of bookkeeping, one in percentage, and one involving the reduction to United States money and the