The Secretary of State to Chargé Carter.

No. 120.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 111 of the 20th ultimo, confirming your telegram of the same date, which transmits information reported to Sir Edward Grey through the inspector of customs, Mr. Joseph O’Reilly, of the enlistment of Newfoundland fishermen by American vessels on the advice of Mr. Alexander, of the Grampus, and also inclosing a copy of Mr. O’Reilly’s letter, upon which your telegram was based.

Your telegram was communicated in full to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, who, in reply, stated that Mr. Alexander would be called upon for a statement in regard to the matter upon his return to Washington, where he is expected to arrive during the present week.

Meanwhile, under date of the 29th ultimo, Secretary Metcalf has transmitted to me a letter dated December 21, 1905, from Mr. Alexander, which, while not in direct reply to the allegations contained in your telegram of December 20, denies that at any time since this season’s fishing began have Newfoundland fishermen been shipped by American vessels in territorial waters, or that men have been in any way assisted by American masters to cross the 3-mile limit for enlistment.

I inclose copy of this letter. Its contents may be made known to Sir Edward Grey.

I am, etc.,

Elihu Root.

The Secretary of Commerce and Labor to the Secretary of State.

Sir: There is transmitted herewith copy of a letter just received from fisheries agent A. B. Alexander, dated Bay of Islands, Newfoundland, December 21, 1905.

V. H. Metcalf.

Mr. Alexander to the Commissioner of Fisheries.

Sir: Your letter of the 8th instant with inclosed copy of telegram from the American ambassador at London to the Secretary of State transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, together with his reply addressed to the Secretary of State, was only received yesterday, it having been sent by mistake to St. Johns, causing a delay of several days.

In reply to the dispatch received by the Secretary of State I would repeat what has been stated in my letter of November 20 to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor that at no time since the herring fishery began this season at Bay of Islands have the laws of Newfoundland been evaded by shipping men on American vessels in the manner to which special attention is called. The schooners Independence II and Oregon enlisted Newfoundland men in the same manner that men were shipped on the schooners Gossip, Carrie W. Babson, and other American vessels engaged in the herring fishery this season.

[Page 665]

In the dispatch considerable stress is laid upon alleged facts regarding taking men acress the 3-mile limit for enlistment and bringing them back. In no instance has such a method been employed. The men, each time, have rowed and sailed in their own boats outside territorial waters, not going on board the vessel on which they were shipped until they were beyond the 3-mile limit, and were previously engaged by agents for owners and not by the masters of said vessels, neither was assistance rendered to either vessel in the enlistment of men other than being a witness that the transaction was legally performed. Not until the receipt of your letter was I aware that any question had been raised regarding the method of procedure. It will be remembered that at the time men were shipped on the schooner Gossip a report reached St. Johns, Newfoundland, and shortly after was sent to Washington and Gloucester that unlawful methods had been employed in enlisting the men. Whoever circulated the report had no grounds for making such charge. It may be that the second report, which is equally false, emanated from the same source.

A letter, dated December 16, from the Secretary of Commerce and Labor with inclosed copy of letter from the Secretary of State addressed to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor with reference to freezing herring on shore, fishing with various kinds of apparatus, etc., was received yesterday. The information bearing upon the points in question has been imparted to masters and owners of vessels. The American captains now fully understand the interpretation the Government places upon the questions involved, both as regards to curing on shore, methods of capture, etc., and conforming to days and seasons.

The vessels are now fishing in Middle and Goose arms, where, probably, they will remain until loaded. The captains will now have little or no communication with Birchy Cove, and only a limited amount of information concerning their movements and catches made can be obtained.

The herring fishery will end in about three weeks. Should vessels remain later, they are likely to be frozen in the arms. If a suitable steam vessel were on the ground near the end of the fishing season, she no doubt would be of considerable service. In past years vessels have frequently remained on the ground a day or two longer than they should in order to obtain full cargoes, and by so doing were caught in the ice, where they had to remain until the following spring. Had assistance been near, the cargoes would have been saved.

Fifteen American vessels have sailed with full cargoes and a number of others are nearly loaded. Ten American vessels this season have shipped 136 men outside 3-mile limit.

Very respectfully,

A. B. Alexander.