No. 245.
Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard .

No. 406.]

Sir: Since writing and telegraphing to you on the 13th instant, with reference to the bill for the execution of the submarine cables convention, I have received your dispatch No. 222 of May 5th and your telegram of the 14th, informing me that the bill in question had not been acted upon by Congress, and instructing me accordingly, to sign, when the conference meets again in July, the second of the protocols submitted by the French Government, which provides that, if on the day fixed for the convention to go into effect any of the signatory powers have not adopted the requisite legislation, its operation shall be suspended, as regards such state, until notice shall be given by it to the French Government of the adoption of the appropriate legislation.

I inclose herewith copy and translation of Mr. Flourens’s note of the 13th instant, mentioned in my No. 405 of the same date, requesting me to call your attention to the fact that section 8 of the bill which passed the House is contrary to the sense of the convention as explained by the declaration of May 1, 1880.

Being satisfied that you would have this defect corrected, I shall add nothing to what I said in my No. 405 with reference to the subject.

I have, etc.,

Robert M. McLane.
[Inclosure in No. 406.—Translation.]

Mr. Flourens to Mr. McLane .

By a communication dated December 26, 1885, the minister of foreign affairs has made known to the United States legation at Paris that a divergency had been noticed between the dispositions of Articles 4 of the convention for the protection of submarine cables and those of section 4 of the submarine telegraph act of 1885, voted by the British Parliament to secure the observation of the international act of March 14, 1884.

On account of the difficulties raised by the restrictions which section 4 of the British act made with reference to one of the stipulations of the convention, the Government of the French Republic proposed; at the date above mentioned, to the different signatory powers to defer the execution of the convention and to call at Paris in May, 1883, another conference to examine what solution could be given to the question.

This conference met on the 12th of May last year, and, as known by the United States minister at Paris, who represented there his Government, the delegates of the different powers agreed upon a project of explanatory declaration of Articles 2 and 4 of the convention of March 14, 1884.

The acceptance by Great Britain of the terms of this project removed the divergency existing between the language of the convention and that of the British act, and caused the abandonment by the English Government of the dispositions inserted in section 4 of the act in question; consequently another act, a copy of which is herewith annexed [not received], was adopted September 25, 1885, to repeal that section.

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On the other side the explanatory declaration agreed upon by the delegates, May 21, 1886, has been accepted by the twenty-five signatory powers of the convention of March 14, 1884. The diplomatic instrument of this declaration was signed at Paris, December 1 and March 23 last, by the representatives of the different Governments at Paris, and it was transmitted to the legation of the United States on April 1.

In explaining the sense of Articles 2 and 4, the declaration of December 1 and March 23, 1887, suppressed the divergency of the interpretation and the difficulties which had caused the insertion in the submarine telegraph act of 1885 of the section 4, since repealed.

Now, according to information which has reached the French Government, the bill presented by the Committee of Foreign Affairs, and voted by Congress to insure the enforcement of the convention of March 14, 1884, contains in its Article 8 a disposition identical with the old section 4 of the British act. The insertion and the maintenance in a bill already voted by the American Congress after the third reading of this Article 8, which is contrary to the stipulations of the International Convention of March 14, 1884, must come from a misunderstanding, for the United States Government have adhered to the explanatory declaration of December 1, 1886, and March 23, 1887, which had precisely for its object to avoid the article in question.

The minister of foreign affairs has the honor of pointing out specially this subject to the United States minister at Paris, who has taken such an active part in the debates of the conference concerning the execution of the convention, and begs him to call the attention of his Government to this misunderstanding which might bring further delays in enforcing the convention. If this article (8) was definitively adopted it would be impossible to state that the different intererested powers have all enacted similar measures for the execution of the convention of 1884; consequently it would be impossible to fix the time from which it would become operative.

The Government of the Republic hopes, therefore, that the Federal Government will take without delay the necessary steps in order that the Committee for Foreign Affairs introduce urgently a rectifying bill repealing the dispositions of Article 8. of the one already adopted by Congress, or, if preferable, that the American Senate, which has not yet considered the bill, amend it by suppressing this Article 8 contrary to the convention, and without any object since the interpretation given to Articles 2 and 4 of the convention by the explanatory declaration.

Mr. Flourens seizes this occasion, etc.,