File No. 763.72112/64

Representative Stephens to the Secretary of State

Sir: Herewith I have the honor to transmit telegram I have this morning received from the Wichita Mill and Elevator Company, of Wichita Falls, Texas, relative to the shipment of wheat from Galveston to England. The telegram is self-explanatory, and I shall esteem it a favor if you will kindly advise me as the telegram elicits in order that I may wire the parties at as early a date as practicable.

Thanking you [etc.]

John H. Stephens


The Wichita Mill and Elevator Company to Representative Stephens

Please investigate and advise whether or not wheat can be moved under American flag from Galveston to England, France, and Holland without violation of neutrality provisions; also, Is wheat classed as contraband of war?[Page 274]Will foreign boats now Galveston be permitted cancel foreign registration and register under American requirements? Do you think Government will look with favor on furnishing escort for fleet of grain-carrying steamers destined France? Wire views our cost.

The Wichita Mill And Elevator Company

The Secretary of State to Representative Stephens


Referring to telegram from Wichita Mill and Elevator Company, wheat and provisions are classed as conditional contraband of war under generally accepted principles of international law, and therefore subject to capture and confiscation by belligerent vessel if destined for a belligerent government, its army or navy, or its port blockaded or held by military forces; if not so destined they are not contraband of war. Holland is not now at war and wheat and foodstuffs destined for use in that country not considered contraband of war. Persons are free to sell or ship foodstuffs from United States in ordinary commercial transactions without violating United States neutrality laws. Pending passage of bill before Congress, foreign boats referred to may not be registered in United States. This Government could not well furnish escort for fleet of grain steamers as such escort might involve United States in serious complications.

W. J. Bryan