File No. 763.72111/86

The Secretary of State to the British Chargé d’Affaires (Barclay)

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your note No. 254 dated August 4, 1914, 11 p.m.,1 but presented to the Department on the following day, on the subject of the equipment and sailing of the [Page 603] Kronprinz Wilhelm from New York on the night of the 3d instant, and of preparations being made on board the German vessels Vaterland and Barbarossa in United States ports.

Under instructions from Sir Edward Grey you call my attention, in view of the state of war existing between Great Britain and Germany, “to the action taken in regard to these vessels and to urge the United States Government to take immediate steps to prevent these and other such vessels leaving United States waters without passengers and after carrying out such obviously warlike preparations as described above, which, when carried out in neutral waters, constitute a distinct breach of the laws of neutrality.”

In reply I have the honor to inform you that as the instance of the Kronprinz Wilhelm occurred, as you say, on the 3d instant before the declaration of war with Germany had been issued by the British Government, it would appear that the statement in your last paragraph quoted above has no application to the case of that vessel.

As to the attitude of the United States Government toward the other vessels mentioned in your note I have the honor to advise you that these vessels are, and have been for some time, under the surveillance of United States authorities with a view to preventing a breach by them of the neutrality of the United States. The Department is advised that these vessels have not as yet left American waters.

With reference to your statement quoted above as to what in the opinion of His Britannic Majesty’s Government may be considered as constituting a breach of the laws of neutrality in cases of this character, I have the honor to refer you to my note of the 19th instant 1 relating in some respects to the rights and duties of the United States as a neutral power during the pending European wars.

I have [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Robert Lansing
  1. Ante, p. 594.
  2. Ante, p. 599.