The Secretary of State to the Russian Ambassador .

No. 20.]

Excellency: I have great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your note of the 3d instant, whereby you acquaint me with the instructions telegraphed to you by your Government to inform the Government of the United States that, in concert with the Dutch Government, it is proposed to convoke the Conference of The Hague during the first half of the month of July of the present year.

The President, to whom I hastened to communicate this information, charges me to express his deep sympathy with the contemplated purpose thus announced by His Imperial Majesty and his gratification at the prospect of the realization of a project in which he has heretofore expressed great interest, and which he trusts will redound to the welfare of all nations by promoting peace among them. It is the President’s purpose to appoint plenipotentiaries to represent the United States at the forthcoming conference.

It behooves me, however, to say that, in the judgment of the President, the date suggested by the Imperial and the Dutch Governments for the assembling of the conference would be in a high degree embarrassing and inconvenient, not only to the United States, but doubtless also to many other nations of the American hemisphere, owing to the fact that the 21st of July next has long been fixed for the meeting of the conference of all the American nations at Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore, so early a date as the first half of July does not appear to be conformable to the understanding arrived at in respect to the Red Cross Congress to be held at Geneva in mid-June, which would manifestly not have an opportunity to complete its work in season for consideration and action by the participating governments before the time proposed for the meeting at The Hague. For these reasons, as well as for other practical considerations in regard to the difficulty that would beset the several governments taking part in these three important conferences at the same season, both as to their representation thereat and as to the need of preserving a consistent harmony in the discussion of the allied topics which would necessarily come before the three conferences, the President is constrained to say, in all frankness, that so early a date as is proposed for the meeting of the Conference of The Hague appears to be extremely inexpedient; and that he would be obliged to say so in response to the formal joint invitation of the Imperial and Dutch Governments which is foreshadowed in your announcement of their intended proposal. As your note merely intimates the proposal of those two Governments to act in concert in the indicated sense it is assumed that the present purpose of the Imperial Government is to invite the general acquiescence of the interested [Page 1628] powers in the contemplated proposal in advance of the later communication of the formal invitation; hence it is proper to acquaint the Imperial Government with the views of the United States in the matter of the date to be agreed upon.

I take note of the further statement that “Russia at the same time invites the nations which did not sign the convention relative to the laws of war on land, nor that relative to the adaptation of the Geneva Convention to war at sea, to inform the Royal Government of the Netherlands of their adhesion to these conventions. With regard to further adhesions to the convention concerning international arbitration, the Imperial Government is conferring on this subject with the governments which signed the acts of 1899.”

As respects the latter proposition, the President has already, in the circulars of the Secretary of State dated October 21 and December 16, 1904, advocated the extension of the option of adherence to powers not represented at the conference of 1899, and he will welcome the suggested comparison of views looking to the conclusion of an agreement among the contracting powers in that sense, as contemplated by Article LX of the First Hague Convention of 29 July, 1899.

The United States, being already an adhering party to the conventions mentioned, would gladly see other nations, not heretofore signatories or adherents, become in like manner parties to the beneficent engagements which were framed by the First Conference of The Hague and to which the approaching second conference may rightly be expected to give wider scope and more effective application in the light of recent military developments and in view of the practical needs suggested by experience.

Due note is also taken of the programme of subjects for examination and discussion which the Imperial Government proposes to submit to the conference, and the Government of the United States reserves consideration thereof, with liberty to advance other proposals of an allied character should its own needs and experience counsel such a course.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

Elihu Root.