The Counselor for the Department of State (Lansing) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: We have received so many memoranda from the British Embassy as to rumors of intended departures of German vessels from American ports without any evidence to support them that I am afraid our investigations of these rumors may be construed into an admission that “due diligence” requires an investigation of every suspicion, however vague, reported to the Department.

To avoid any such construction of our practice, which might seriously embarrass the Government in case future claims based on lack of due diligence are presented, I submit for your consideration a proposed note to the British Ambassador setting forth the position of this Government as to its duty in such cases.50

It seems to me that we have shown a great deal of patience in running down the numerous rumors reported by the British Embassy which have proven to be without any foundation in fact. Not only that, but we have taken action, which I do not think we were required to do on the meagre information supplied by the Embassy. It would be unfortunate and I think subject to criticism if we permitted our good nature to be taken advantage of to found a claim on the ground of an admitted duty as a neutral which international law does not impose.

I think that it would be unwise to remain longer silent, and I, therefore, have drafted the proposed note.

Faithfully yours,

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.