Mr. Sherman to Mr. Patenôtre.

No. 97.]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of May 4, 1897, in which you inclose an application made by the French Telegraph Cable Company, as successors of the French Paris and New York Company, to lay a supplementary cable to that which it already has between Brest and Cape Cod.

The existing cable was laid under permission granted by the President of the United States in 1879, subject to the action of Congress and to certain conditions. Without discussing the question of his authority to grant that permission, I have the honor to inform you that the present Executive does not regard himself as clothed, in the absence of legislative enactment, with the requisite authority to take any action upon the application which you present. A bill was introduced in the last Congress giving the President of the United States express authority to authorize the landing of submarine cables on the shores of the United States, subject to conditions therein specified, but it failed to become a law. Until Congress shall see fit to clothe the President with power to act in matters of this kind, he will be compelled to refrain from doing so.

Accept, etc.,

John Sherman.