No. 225.
Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard.

No. 305.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 220, of May 20, 1886, and that on Mr. Vignaud, No. 225, of May 27, 1886, I have the honor to call your attention to the fact that I have not received your approval of the protocol [Page 273] therein inclosed, with the necessary authority to communicate such approval to the conference, which adjourned in May last to meet again on the 1st of December next.

I inclose herewith a copy and translation of a communication from M. de Freycinet containing a list of the powers that have signified their approval of the protocol and requesting me to be prepared on the 1st of December to make known to the conference the views of my Government. This protocol, as I advised you in my Ho. 220, was satisfactory to the two American companies, but time so presses that I have to request you to communicate by telegraph authority to approve it when the conference meets the 1st of December.

I call your special attention to so much of M. de Freycinet’s communication as refers to the legislation necessary to give effect to the penal clauses of the convention of the 14th of March, 1884, and I beg to be informed as to the legislation of the United States in this connection. I am not myself aware that Congress has passed any law to give effect to the convention.

I have, etc.,

Robert M. McLane.
[Inclosure in No. 305.—Translation.]

M. de Freycinet to Mr. McLane.

Sir: As you know, the delegates of the different powers having signed the convention of the 14th March, 1884, for the protection of submarine cables, met at Paris the 12th of last May and adjourned until the 1st of December, after having drawn up in a protocol a draft of an interpreting memorandum, which they engaged themselves to recommend for adoption to their respective Governments.

The Government of the Republic instructed, during the month of June, its representatives to communicate officially to the different contracting states the text of this memorandum, and to make it known that it was much interested in having this signed with as little delay as possible.

Of the twenty-five contracting powers fifteen, the list of whom you will find annexed, have already given their adhesion to the construing memorandum.

I should be much pleased if the American Government would intimate if it accepts it also, and would be kind enough at the same time to authorize you to sign it. This formality should be fulfilled before the 1st December. It is on this date, in fact, that the conference will recommence its sessions in order to finish on the one hand the examination of the laws of which article 12 of the convention of the 14th of March, 1884, prescribes the promulgation; and on the other hand, to agree upon a decision in regard to the contracting parties who shall not be able to show the adoption of the measures aimed at by this article 12.

In regard to this matter, the fact must not be lost sight of that the penal clauses of the convention of 14th of March, 1884, can not suffice to insure to the prevention of the violations of the convention which it foresees, the convention not specifying the penalty to be inflicted. It is then necessary, in order that the convention may be carried out in regard to this point, that the legislation of each contracting state should each contain express provisions for repressing any violation of articles 2, 5, and 6, and it is important that the Governments which had not at the time of the last conference adopted such provisions should communicate the text of them as soon as possible to the Government of the Republic, to be transmitted to the delegates of the different countries on the renewal of their deliberations; that is to say, on the 1st of December next.

I would be obliged if you would call the attention of your Government to this point, which will be kind enough, I hope, to furnish you with precise instructions, with the view of permitting the next conference to pronounce itself on the situation of the states haying signed who might not be able to put the convention into operation the 1st January, 1887.

Accept, etc.,

C. de Freycinet.
[Page 274]

List of the powers which have ratified the convention for the protection of submarine cables and who have already accepted the interpreting memorandum, the terms of which were agreed upon by their delegates the 21st of May, 18S6: Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Salvador, Servia, Sweden and Norway, Uruguay.

Protocol inclosed in Mr. Vignaud’s No. 225, May 27, 1886.

The undersigned, delegates of the Argentine Republic, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Spain; the United States of America, France, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Salvador, Servia, Sweden and Norway, Turkey, and Uruguay, have met together at Paris on the 12th of May, 1886, for the purpose of examining the situation of the different states signers of the convention of the 14th of March, 1884, for the protection of submarine cables, in respect to the execution of Article 12 of the said convention.

As a result of the examination to which they have applied themselves in concert, they have decided upon the draft of declaration which is annexed to the present protocol and which they engage themselves to recommend for adoption to their respective Governments.

  • Argentine Confederation: José C. Paz.
  • Austria-Hungary: Goluchowski.
  • Belgium: Leopold Orban.
  • Brazil: Arinos.
  • Costa Rica: Fernandez.
  • Denmark: Moltkehoitfeldt.
  • Dominican Republic: Emanuel de Almeda.
  • Spain: Je. Luis Albareda, Viconte Coromnia, Zarto Thos Acana.
  • United States: Robert M. McLane.
  • France: Granet, Clavery, Fribourg, L. Renault, Chasseriau, T. Raynaud.
  • Great Britain: M. Kenned, C. C. Trevor, T. C. Lamb.
  • Greece: N. Delyanni.
  • Guatemala: C. Goguel.
  • Italy: F. Salvatori, G. Solano.
  • Japan: F. Marshall.
  • The Netherlands: A. de Stuers.
  • Portugal: Andrade Corvo, Brissac.
  • Roumania: V. Alecsandri.
  • Russia: E. Alexeieff.
  • Salvador: Pector.
  • Servia; T. Marinovitch,
  • Sweden and Norway: C. Lewenhaupt.
  • Turkey: Djémal.
  • Uruguay: Juan J. Diaz.

draft of declaration.

The undersigned, plenipotentiaries of the Governments having signed the convention of the 14th March, 1884, for the protection of submarine cables, having recognized the propriety of determining precisely the sense of the terms of Articles 2 and 4 of the said convention, have decided with one accord upon the following declaration:

Certain doubts having arisen as to the meaning of the word “voluntarily,” inserted in Article 2 of the convention of the 14th March, 1884, it is understood that the clause of penal responsibility, mentioned in said article, does not apply to cases of breakage or damages caused accidentally or necessarily while repairing a cable when all precautions have been taken to avoid these breakages or damages.

It is equally understood that Article 4 of the convention has had no other object and should have no other effect than to charge the proper tribunals of each country with settling in conformity with their laws and according to the circumstances, the question of the civil responsibility of the owner of a cable, who, in the laying or the repairing of this cable, causes the breakage or damage of another cable, as well as the consequences of this responsibility, if it is recognized that such exists.

In witness whereof, etc.