File No. 832.61333/91.
The Ambassador of Brazil to the Secretary of State
Washington , May 30, 1912 .
Mr. Secretary of State: As soon as I assumed charge of this Embassy in June of last year I had the honor to talk with your excellency about an inquiry instituted by the Department of Justice into the operations of the so-called Committee on Coffee Valorization of the State of São Paulo in this country in order to ascertain whether the said operations were conducted in violation of the Sherman Act to prevent restrictions on American commerce. Your excellency was so good as to promise me then to acquaint me with the results of the inquiry immediately when receiving the information from the Department concerned.
I then forwarded your excellency’s answer to my Government and when one of the members of the Committee on Coffee Valorization of São Paulo was lately called upon to testify before the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the “Money Trust “in this city, I explained to the parties interested that both this inquiry and that of the Department of Justice were intended to enable the American public authorities to form an opinion on questions that affected the general welfare before taking any measures whatever in the matter and that the Brazilian Embassy in the United States would certainly be duly notified of any such steps.
But it was only by reading the papers of the 19th instant that the Brazilian Embassy learned that proceedings had been instituted the day before by the Attorney-General in the District Court of New York against the Committee on Coffee Valorization of the State of São Paulo, which was claimed in the indictment to have violated the provisions of the Sherman Act above mentioned. The Brazilian Embassy at Washington, which regards it as one of its most pleasant duties to cooperate with the American Government in its efforts to maintain and develop the very friendly relations between the two countries, this Embassy, whose creation was a token of the lasting-friendship which binds the two peoples, was left in ignorance of an official measure of such extreme gravity as this which deals with acts and property of the Government of a Brazilian State.
It is not for me here to enter upon an examination of the merits of the case since, be those what they may, the jurisdiction of an American tribunal over the acts of a foreign sovereign State can not be admitted. The doctrine alleged by a representative of the Department of Justice before the court that by placing merchandise on the market of the world a State loses its sovereignty can not be defended before the Department of State, where it is well known that sovereignty is never lost or relinquished automatically but always through a formal and express instrument, whether voluntarily or under compulsion. With a refusal to consider the international aspect of the question, the matter assumes more importance, as the initial proceedings of the suit were instituted without due warning to the foreign and friendly Government interested therein. The court has already denied that part of the Attorney-General’s petition [Page 54] which relates to the previous delivery of the coffee owned by the State of São Paulo to a depositary (for sale) in the market, but the suit continues.
This state of things, which has lasted for two weeks and which, I fear, may not continue without detriment to the moral and material interests of both countries, is that which I wish to submit to your excellency’s consideration in order that you will, if you deem it proper, bring it to the knowledge of the President of the Republic with a view to its discontinuance and proper reparation.
I avail [etc.]