The Secretary of State to the Vice President of the Board of Trade of Kansas City ( D. F. Piazzek )
Washington , August 5, 1914.
Sir: The Department begs to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of July 31, referring to shipment of grain from this country to Europe and requesting the United States Government to approach the powers who may be involved in war to the end that a declaration may be obtained from the powers to the effect that grain may proceed in neutral vessels without molestation to destination [Page 272] whatever same may be. Furthermore that grain shipped for export should remain safe from seizure even if shipped in a vessel belonging to one or the other of the powers that may be at war whatever its destination; further that ships which have sailed or are being loaded for export before a possible declaration of war should be respected in any case for whatever port they may be destined or to whatever flag they may belong.
It is not probable that the countries now engaged in war would consent at this time to any modification of the rules of international law respecting the relations between belligerents and the rights of neutrals.
Under generally accepted principles of international law, grain may be shipped by a neutral to a country at war unless such grain is intended for the use of the army or navy or some department of the government of the country at war; or unless the port for which the grain is destined is in a state of blockade or is occupied by the army or navy of the belligerents. If the grain is not liable to capture for either of the reasons stated above, it cannot be confiscated even if sent by a vessel flying the flag of one of the belligerents. It is needless to suggest, however, that the capture of the ship on which the grain was being carried under such conditions would prevent the grain’s reaching its intended destination.
I am [etc.]