The Acting Secretary of State to Chargé Carter.

No. 126.]

Sir: Supplementing the department’s No. 120, of the 4th instant, in which you were instructed that Mr. A. B. Alexander, fisheries agent of the Department of Commerce and Labor, would be called upon for an explanation concerning information reported to Sir Edward Grey, through Mr. Joseph O’Reilly, Newfoundland inspector of customs, alleging the illegal shipment of Newfoundland fishermen by American vessels, particularly the M. B. Stetson, on the advice of Mr. Alexander, I now inclose copy of a letter from the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, transmitting a copy of Mr. Alexander’s statement.

It will be noted that Mr. Alexander asserts that any inference from the reports in question that men were illegally shipped is unwarranted, and based on wholly untrustworthy information.

The contents of the inclosure may be made known to Sir Edward Grey.

I am, etc.,

Robert Bacon,
Acting Secretary.
[Page 666]

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

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt to-day of your communication of the 6th instant, transmitting a copy of the full text of a letter from Mr. Joseph O’Reilly, inspector of revenue preventive service of Newfoundland, in which allegation is made that Newfoundland fishermen were illegally shipped by American vessels, particularly by the M. B. Stetson, on the advice of Mr. A. B. Alexander, an agent of the Bureau of Fisheries in this department.

As you were advised on the 26th ultimo, your previous communication of December 22, 1905, regarding the same matter, was referred to the Bureau of Fisheries with instructions to have Mr. Alexander submit a statement relative to the allegations mentioned immediately upon his return to Washington. This statement has just been received, and in transmitting a copy herewith I beg to invite your attention to Mr. Alexander’s assertion that the inference of Sir Edward Grey from reports received through Mr. O’Reilly that men were illegally shipped on the schooner M. B. Stetson, and that such course was advised by Mr. Alexander, is unwarranted and based wholly on untrustworthy information.

V. H. Metcalf.

Mr. Alexander to the Commissioner of Fisheries.

Sir: A communication, dated December 27, from the chief clerk, Department of Commerce and Labor, to the Commissioner of Fisheries, transmitting a letter from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, with an inclosed copy of a telegram from the American embassy at London to the Secretary of State, calling attention to alleged violation of the laws of Newfoundland by the schooner M. B. Stetson, of Bucksport, Me., was received January 5.

In reply, I have the honor to say the inference of Sir Edward Gray from reports received through Mr. J. O’Reilly, inspector of revenue protection service, of Newfoundland, that men were illegally shipped on the schooner. M. B. Stetson, and that such course was advised by me, is unwarranted and based on wholly untrustworthy information.

Mr. T. M. Nicholson, owner of the vessel in question, previous to engaging men, came on board the Grampus and solicited my advice. He was told that he must not permit either men or boats on board his vessel within territorial waters nor must he afford any assistance to them in reaching a point beyond the 3-mile limit. This was fully understood by Mr. Nicholson.

Several days afterwards Mr. Nicholson came on board the Grampus and stated that on November 29 a native crew of fishermen had been shipped on the Stetson, and, furthermore, that he had complied with the law in every particular, and that Mr. O’Reilly had been a witness to the legality of the method employed. During our conversation Mr. Nicholson was asked if the men engaged to be enlisted had been taken on board or in any way given assistance previous to their being received on board outside the 3-mile limit. He stated that no assistance was rendered.

The second paragraph of the telegram, however, affirms that nine men were engaged at Wood Island, and that the vessel towed them in their boat to Lark Harbor. The weather being too stormy the Grampus did not go out and I was not a witness.

Previous to my arrival at Washington, I had not heard that the captain and owner of the M. B. Stetson had been charged with violating the law in the manner described. On the contrary, in conversation with Mr. O’Reilly, subsequent to the men being shipped on the M. B. Stetson, he asked me if I had heard it reported that Mr. Nicholson, owner of the Stetson, had towed [Page 667] a fishing boat and crew from Wood Island to Lark Harbor that had been engaged for the herring fishing on that vessel. I replied that I had not heard such a report, and, furthermore, did not believe that Mr. Nicholson acted contrary to law, as he had informed me that he had been very particular to do nothing that would cause comment or place the Government in an embarrassing position. Mr. O’Reilly replied that he felt confident that Mr. Nicholson had committed no overt act. This would imply that Mr. O’Reilly had no positive knowledge of any infraction of the law on the part of Mr. Nicholson.

From October 5 until December 22, 43 American vessels arrived at Bay of Islands for salted and frozen herring. The captains and agents of these vessels were instructed before leaving the home port to obey the law in every particular, and in all cases where any doubt existed as to the proper methods to pursue, to exercise great caution and make the necessary inquiries regarding the wording and interpretation of the law before acting. I would state that the captains, owners, and agents of the said vessels frequently visited the Grampus for the purpose of gaining information relating to the law governing the herring fishery on the treaty shore of Newfoundland, and in no single instance, among all the American captains, have I observed or learned that the law had been transgressed; neither have the captains been advised to pursue methods or perform acts contrary to the treaty rights of 1818 as interpreted by the United States Government. Precaution was taken to prevent captains from violating the law through ignorance, and they in turn exhibited a disposition to gain all possible information bearing upon the subject in order to comply with the requirements.


A. B. Alexander.

Approved and forwarded:
Geo. M. Bowers, Commissioner.