Mr. Hay to Mr. Conger.
Washington, December 1, 1904.
Sir: In a recent personal conference the Russian ambassador has adverted to the attitude of the military, naval, and civil officers of the United States in China as regards the present contest between Russia and Japan. While indisposed to make specific statements in individual cases, allusion is made to instances of personal and official action on the part of some of these officers, which, when coming to the knowledge of the Russian representatives, cause an impression of unfriendliness.
It seems proper to bring this to your attention to the end that you may advise all officers dependent upon your branch of the service, cautioning them to observe the utmost circumspection and to avoid all action which may in any way suggest departure from the strict rule of impartial neutrality, which is as binding upon the individual officers of this Government as upon the Government itself.
In this relation I append by way of example copy of the circular orders given by the President on March 10, 1904, enjoining “all officials of the Government, civil, military, and naval, not only to observe the President’s proclamation of neutrality in the war between Russia and Japan, but also to abstain from either action or speech which can legitimately cause irritation to either of the combatants.”
I am, etc.,