Mr. Gresham to Mr. Goschen.

Sir: Referring to your note of the 15th instant, stating that in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government it will be impossible to put into effect the new regulations for preventing collisions at sea on the date originally suggested by Great Britain and specified in the President’s proclamation, I have the honor to say that besides the arguments adduced by the Acting Secretary of the Treasury in his letter of the 10th instant, of which a copy is inclosed, this Department, as at present advised, considers it impossible for this Government to suspend the operation of the act of Congress of August 19, 1890, as amended by that of May 28, 1894. The President, by his proclamation, having fixed the date on which it is to come into effect, his power in the matter is exhausted. The date of March 1, 1895, fixed in the proclamation, is as much a part of the act as if incorporated in it, and any change therein being in the nature of new legislation can only be made by the legislative branch of this Government.

In view of these facts and of the confusion which would inevitably result from the regulations in question not being put in operation on the same date by Great Britain and the United States, and considering furthermore that the date fixed upon by the United States for putting them in operation has also been adopted by the Government of France and may very probably be, before long, adopted by other maritime powers, it is hoped that Her Majesty’s Government will find it possible to adhere to its first proposition and put the rules in question in operation on the same date as the United States.

I have, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.
[Inclosure.]

Mr. Wike to Mr. Gresham.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th instant, transmitting copy of a note of the 15th instant, from the British chargé d’affaires ad interim at this capital, stating that owing to the fact that all the maritime nations have not as yet given their adhesion to the new regulations for preventing collisions at sea, it has been found impossible that they should be put into effect on the date originally suggested by Her Majesty’s Government and specified in the President’s proclamation of July last.

Replying to your request for an expression of the views of this Department in regard to the matter in question, I have the honor to call your attention to the note from the British ambassador at this Capital, dated April 25, 1894, transmitted to this Department with your letter of April 30.

Upon the assurance that the regulations, modified in certain particulars indicated in the ambassador’s inclosure of the regulations as finally adopted by Great Britain, had received the general approval of the several foreign maritime powers, Congress at the late session amended the act of 1890, which embodied the original propositions of [Page 272]the Washington Marine Conference, to conform to the regulations as finally adopted by Great Britain. The amendatory act was passed upon the recommendation of this Department so that there should be ample time for the promulgation of the rules by the United States before the date for their enforcement, agreeably to this Government as fixed by the British Government. It then appeared, and still appears to this Department, that if the rules come into force, as proposed, on the 1st of March, 1895, each foreign government will have ample time to prepare and promulgate identic rules to come into force on the same day.

This Department observes that an interval of from April 25 to July 13 elapsed between the date of the note of the British ambassador suggesting March 1, 1895, as the date for the enforcement of the proposed regulations, and the date of the President’s proclamation, during which it received no notification that an alteration of the date was desired by the British Government. A further interval, from July 13 to September 28, elapsed before the distribution of the new regulations was begun by this Department, during which it received no notification that an alteration of the date was desired by the British Government. The distribution of the new regulations among the masters of vessels has now progressed so far that it does not appear practicable to recall them.

This Department accordingly trusts that it may be possible for the British Government to adhere to its proposition, communicated in the note of the British ambassador, dated April 25, after careful consideration, to enforce the regulations on and from the 1st of March, 1895.

Respectfully, yours,

S. Wike,
Acting Secretary.