File No. 711.612/62a.

The Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.


The President’s message on foreign relations, communicated on the 7th to Congress, contains the following paragraph:

By direction of the State Department our ambassador to Russia has recently been having a series of conferences with the minister of foreign affairs of Russia with a view to securing a clearer understanding and construction of the treaty of 1832 between Russia and the United States and the modification of any existing Russian regulations which may be found to interfere in any way with the full recognition of the rights of American citizens under this treaty. I believe that the Government of Russia is addressing itself seriously to the need of changing the present practice under the treaty and that sufficient progress has been made to warrant the continuance of these conferences in the hope that there may soon be removed any justification of the complaints of treaty violation now prevalent in this country. I expect that immediately after Christmas recess I shall be able to make a further communication to Congress on this subject.

The above reference by the President to the passport question was decided upon under circumstances which will be made evident to you by the following quotation from a personal and confidential letter which I addressed to the Russian ambassador on the 6th instant:

I have the honor to hand you for your confidential information a copy of what the President proposes to say in his message upon the passport question. You will find it in practically the same form as when I read it to you yesterday morning. Further consideration of the subject more and more convinces me that the easiest way to avoid the embarrassments likely to be produced by a discussion of the pending resolution in Congress would be to do as we were talking of yesterday, namely, solve the difficulties connected with the old treaty by terminating it and negotiating a new one in which there could be set down clearly the matters upon which both Governments would agree. The President’s message will probably carry the matter over until after the holidays, and the interval might be availed of to work out some such solution as I suggest. I would be happy to have some further suggestion from you.

Accordingly you will seek an immediate interview with the minister for foreign affairs and hand him a note in the following terms:

Under instructions from my Government and in pursuance of conversations held by the Secretary of State with the Russian ambassador at Washington, I have now the honor to give to the Imperial Russian Government on behalf of the United States the official notification contemplated by Article XII of the treaty of 1832, whereby the operation of the said treaty will terminate in accordance with its terms on January 1, 1913.

Your excellency will recall that pourparlers between the two Governments during the last three years have fully recognized the fact that this ancient treaty, as is quite natural, is no longer fully responsive in various respects to the needs of the political and material relations of the two countries, which [Page 696] grow constantly more important. The treaty has also given rise from time to time to certain controversies equally regretted by both Governments.

In conveying the present formal notification to your excellency I am instructed to express the desire of my Government, meanwhile, to renew the effort to negotiate a modern treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation, upon bases more perfectly responsive to the interests of both Governments. I am directed by the President at the same time to emphasize the great value attached by the Government of the United States to the historic relations between the two countries, and the desire of my Government to spare no effort to make the outcome of the proposed negotiations contribute still further to the strength and cordiality of these relations.

I avail myself of this occasion to offer to your excellency the renewed assurance of my highest consideration.

A copy of this telegram has been handed to the Russian ambassador here for his information.