Mr. Hay to Mr. Choate.
Washington, August 6, 1904.
(Replying to Mr. Choate’s telegram of the 3d instant Mr. Hay states that, as the Department is not sufficiently advised of all the facts and circumstances connected with the sinking of the Knight Commander, it is not prepared to express an opinion on the case, nor can it say that, in case of imperative necessity, a prize may not be lawfully destroyed by a belligerent captor. It is deemed inadvisable for the Department to express an opinion concerning the volunteer fleet, as that would involve a proper construction of a treaty to which the United States is not a party. In regard to the general subject of the right of search for contraband and the mode of visitation for that purpose, it seems to be quite well regulated by international law, and an opinion could only be expressed on a concrete question.)