No. 267.
Pro memoria.


By a letter dated January 2, 1886, this legation transmitted to the State Department a circular of the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic, proposing a new meeting of the conference relative to the protection of submarine cables.

According to the explanations given by M. Freycinet, this meeting was suggested by the necessity of reconciling the general measures adopted by the conference with section 4 of the act of the English Parliament, which provides that Article 4 of the convention does not apply to the part of a cable submerged at a depth exceeding 100 fathoms.

This difficulty rendered the execution of the convention impossible at the date originally fixed for it, viz, the 15th of January, 1886. At the suggestion of the French Government, and with the assent of all the signatory powers, the going into effect was then adjourned until the 1st of January, 1887.

In the interval another meeting of the conference took place at Paris on the 12th of May last as the result of which the delegates of the different Governments interested agreed on the drafting of an act which would remedy the difficulties caused by the restriction introduced in the fourth section of the English law.

This act was communicated to the State Department by the legation Of France on the 8th of July last.

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Now, it seems by the annexed dispatch of the minister of foreign affairs of France that the provisions of the English act which led to the delay of a year in the putting in force of the convention in question are found reproduced in the bill which has just been introduced in the Congress of the United States.

If this information is exact, the Department of State can see that the law, of which it was good enough to recommend the urgency, would be insufficient to insure the carrying into effect of the convention, and would become, on the contrary, a point of departure for fresh negotiations and the cause of further delay.

Copy of a telegram addressed by the minister of foreign-affairs to M. Roustan, minister of France to the United States.


I am semi-officially informed that the American bill concerning the submarine cables convention contains in section 8 a provision identical with the former section 4 of the English act which formed the subject of M. de Freyeinet’s circular of the 19th of December, 1885.

Referring to my predecessor’s letter of June 17 last, I beg you to urge upon the Secretary of State of the Union the elimination of this section. Pray state to him that as a result of the conference of May 12 last, and of the adoption of the declaration interpreting Articles 2 and 4 of the convention signed by the representative of the United States and by those of the other powers, the English Parliament passed on the 25th of September another act repealing section 4 of the “submarine telegraph act” of 1885.

It is important that the American law should likewise take into account the declaration aforesaid.