File No. 367.114M69/154.
The American Consul General at Smyrna to the Secretary of State.
Smyrna, July 1, 1912.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Department’s unnumbered instruction of June 5th, 1912, expressing approval of the manner in which the question of jurisdiction over the captain of the S. S. Texas has been handled by this office. The support of the Department in this matter has caused me the liveliest satisfaction as further reflection and study has strengthened my conviction that such vessels are, internationally, American vessels. Indeed logic and reason, which are or should be .the basis of all law, admit of no other conclusion. American citizens have the natural right to acquire property in foreign-built vessels. Such property once acquired, the question arises: How shall it be classified for purposes of international jurisdiction and protection? A ship can never be treated as a factory, a shop or a piece of real estate, for the reason that it is in its nature totally distinct from such kind of property and is subject to special laws, traditions and regulations. A ship is always a ship, even though acquired as property, and when the Government gives a ship the right to fly the flag, it assumes the responsibility connected with the act. For this reason the transfer of foreign ships to the American flag is considered such a serious matter and is hedged in by so many precautions by the Government. Common sense suggests the question: If a ship legally flying the American flag is not an American ship, what is it? A sufficient answer to that question will suggest how else to treat such vessels in matters of jurisdiction, than as American vessels.
I have the honor to enclose herewith a further report1 of some incidents seeming to have a bearing on the sinking of the Texas.
I have [etc.]
- Not printed.↩