File No. 21273/3.

The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Brown.

No. 59.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, No. 101, of the 12th ultimo, relative to the law recently enacted by the Government of Honduras declaring all vessels constructed in that Republic or owned by residents, either native or foreign, as Honduranean.

In reply I have to state that if the rather obscure provisions of the Honduranean decree be given the sweeping scope which the words, taken literally, might seem prima facie to indicate, the decree would appear to cover vessels holding an American or other foreign registry. If so interpreted, the decree would be clearly violative of the principles of international law and in derogation of the respect due American registry.

In the treaty with Honduras there are such explicit references to “their ships and cargoes,” referring to “the subjects and citizens of the two countries, respectively,” and to the reciprocal liberty of trading and to “vessels of the United States” and of Honduras, respectively, as are inconsistent with the view that Honduras can mean to place any such compulsion on our registered vessels trading there if not engaged in her coastwise trade. If, however, the decree be interpreted in the light of principles of international law and treaty referred to and its scope be so limited by construction as to make it apply only to vessels owned by Americans or other foreigners domiciled in Honduras which have no American or other foreign registry, it would seem to be within the international competence of Honduras to enact.

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In your future communications with the Government of Honduras you will make your representations along the lines of the distinction above pointed out.

It may be added in passing that as regards the American tug La Crosse, referred to in the consul’s dispatch to you of July 27, it is not only exempted from the provisions of the decree, as you point out in your telegram of August 11, inasmuch as it is employed in loading and unloading vessels, but it would appear to be likewise withdrawn from the scope of the decree, inasmuch as, as stated by the consul, it is “owned by parties in New Orleans” and would therefore appear not to be “for the service of individuals residing in the Republic.” Finally, the La Crosse has an American registry, being registered as No 157363, with its home port at New Orleans, La., and is therefore withdrawn from the scope of the decree by the principles of international law already referred to.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.