File No. 763.72111/423

The Counselor for the Department of State to the British Ambassador ( Spring Rice )

Dear Mr. Ambassador: The Navy Department has sent to this Department a communication from Admiral Fletcher, Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, dated October 1, in which he states that his flagship, the Wyoming, on leaving New York September 22, passed the British cruiser Lancaster two and one-half miles south by east of Scotland Lightship.2 The admiral calls attention to the position of the cruiser and its ability to control all ingress and egress at the largest port of the United States.

This statement of Admiral Fletcher is similar to the case of the cruiser Suffolk, to which I orally called your attention a few days ago, and I must say that the presence of these vessels in near proximity to the harbor of New York, where the commerce of that port converges, causes a very bad impression and will induce much adverse comment if the fact becomes the subject of public discussion.

While, of course, the presence of these vessels does not constitute anything in the nature of a blockade by Great Britain, the effect is to interfere so with our commerce with her enemies as to infringe upon our commercial rights in appearance if not in fact.

I am writing you personally in regard to this matter, as I have already told you informally that the presence of the Suffolk had caused considerable concern and that its continuance might be construed into an unfriendly act, requiring official action. This latter possibility I hope can be avoided.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.