File No. 763.72111/88

The British Ambassador (Spring Rice) to the Secretary of State

No. 289]

Sir: With reference to Mr. Barclay’s notes Nos. 252 1 and 259 2 of the 4th and 9th of August, respectively, fully explaining the position taken up by His Majesty’s Government in regard to the question of armed merchantmen, I have the honour, in view of the fact that a number of British armed merchantmen will now be visiting United States ports, to reiterate that the arming of British merchantmen is solely a precautionary measure adopted for the purpose of defence against attack from hostile craft.

I have at the same time been instructed by His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to give the United States Government the fullest assurances that British merchant vessels will never be used for purposes of attack, that they are merely peaceful traders armed only for defence, that they will never fire unless first fired upon, and that they will never under any circumstances attack any vessel.

I have [etc.]

Cecil Spring Rice
  1. Ante, p. 593.
  2. Ante, p. 598.