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

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 25th instant in which, referring to previous correspondence, you state that, in view of the fact that a number of British armed merchantmen will now be visiting United States ports, you desire to reiterate that the arming of British merchantmen is solely a precautionary measure adopted for the purpose of defense against attack from hostile craft. You add that you have been instructed [Page 605]by His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to give the Government of the United States the fullest assurances that British merchant vessels will never be used for purposes of attack, that they are merely peaceful traders armed only for defense, that they will never fire unless first fired upon, and that they will never under any circumstances attack any vessel.

I have [etc.]

W. J. Bryan