The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Townsend.
Washington , February 1, 1905 .
Sir: This Government having accepted the invitation extended to it by the Government of Belgium to take part in the International Maritime Conference in regard to salvage and collisions at sea, to be held at Brussels, beginning on the 21st of the present month, this Department will be pleased to have you attend the conference as one of its delegates, and to inform the Belgian Government that you will do so, and that your colleague will be Mr. William W. Goodrich, of New York City, who was chairman of the delegation of the United States to the International Marine Conference held at Washington in 1889.
The object of the Brussels Conference is to consider the drafts of two proposed international conventions approved by the International Maritime Committee at their Hamburg Conference in 1902. These drafts have been put in conventional form by the Belgian Government and will by that Government be laid before the conference. Copies of the drafts can be obtained by application to the Belgian Government.
As the proposed conventions conflict in important particulars with existing laws of the United States, this Government has consented to participate in the conference only on the accepted condition that it would not be in any way bound by the determination of the conference. For this reason it is not expedient to invest you with plenary power. Should you in the light of the practical, technical, and legal knowledge you have on the subjects to be considered think it advisable to sign the proposed conventions, you will do so ad referendum and subject to such legislation as may be necessary by the United States to make them effective. The Department will be pleased to have you furnish it with a full report of the proceedings of the conference.
I am, etc.,