Ambassador Reid to
the Secretary of State.
London, October 20,
Sir: I have the honor to report the receipt of
your telegram of the 13th instant and my action under it as shown in my
telegram of the 16th instant.
As intimated in my dispatches, Lord Lansdowne has been out of town for
some days. As he was expected on Monday, however, I sent a private note
to his residence on Saturday, a few hours after the receipt of your
dispatch, asking the favor of an appointment at as early an hour as
convenient on Monday.
Finding on Monday that he had not yet returned, I went to the foreign
office and saw the first permanent under secretary, Sir Thomas
Sanderson, to whom I stated the substance of the information received
from my government, and asked for the promptest action in communicating
with the Newfoundland authorities, adding I was sure Sir Thomas would
agree with me in the belief that if any new question were to be raised
at this late date about the rights of American fishermen under the
treaty of 1818 it should be raised through the regular diplomatic
channels instead of through abrupt action on the part of the
Newfoundland authorities. This view seemed to strike Sir Thomas as
reasonable and he promised that on the return of Lord Lansdowne this
should be one of the first subjects brought to his attention.
The same evening the unofficial letter from Lord Lansdowne mentioned in
my cable despatch was sent to me at my private residence. To-day a note
has been received from him (dated yesterday) repeating the statement
that the governor of Newfoundland denies any attempt to prevent American
fishermen from catching fish, and the hope that the reports which
reached you were the result of misapprehension. A copy of this note is
* * * * * * *
I have, etc.,
to the Marquess of
London, October 16,
My Lord: Referring to my conversation
to-day with Sir Thomas Sanderson about the fisheries situation on
the Newfoundland coast, I have the honor to express my gratitude at
the prompt inquiries already instituted and to repeat the earnest
desire of my government that your lordship should secure from the
Newfoundland authorities the immediate withdrawal of their notice
prohibiting Americans from taking fish from within the limits
plainly granted in Article I of the treaty of 1818.
As I explained to Sir Thomas Sanderson, our American fishermen have
been advised by my government that their right to take fish within
these limits is quite clear; that it is in accordance with the
construction of the treaty always followed heretofore, and that it
has never been questioned by the British Government.
Such previous difficulties as that at Fortune Bay certainly indicate
a probability of serious trouble again if this Newfoundland
prohibition is actively enforced.
If it is really desired now to raise any question as to the
construction of the treaty of 1818, I feel sure that you will agree
with my government in thinking that it should be done by suitable
diplomatic representation and not by abrupt prohibition of the
established practice without any communication on the subject
between the two governments.
Your lordship will of course understand that my government insists on
the rights always enjoyed under the treaty of 1818 and feels bound
to protect our fishermen against an interference by the Newfoundland
authorities which is plainly in violation of the uniform
construction heretofore given to that treaty.
I have, etc.,
The Marquess of
Lansdowne to Ambassador Reid.
London, October 19,
Your Excellency: I have the honor to
acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 16th instant relative to
a report which has reached the United States Government that steps
are being taken by the Newfoundland authorities to prohibit United
States citizens from taking fish within the limits open to them
under Article I of the convention of 1818.
As I have already had the pleasure of privately informing your
excellency, the governor of Newfoundland, to whom on the receipt of
a message from His Majesty’s ambassador at Washington telegraphic
inquiries were at once addressed, has replied that the visit of the
Newfoundland minister of marine to this part of the island was for
the purpose of arranging the disposal of French fishery effects on
the treaty shore, and that there has been no attempt to prevent
American fishermen from catching fish.
I trust, therefore, that the reports which reached the United States
Government are the result of a misapprehension as to the facts of
I have, etc.,