File No. 763.72111/156

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

No. 500]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 4th instant,1 in which, with reference to the presence in American ports of the British armed merchant vessels Adriatic and Merion, you advise the Department of the receipt of a despatch from Sir Edward Grey in which he states that His Majesty’s Government hold the view that it is not in accordance with neutrality and international law to detain in neutral ports merchant vessels armed with purely defensive armaments.

In reply I have the honor to say that this Government has had the matter of the status of armed merchant vessels under consideration, and that it has already made a public announcement thereon. In this relation I have also the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Embassy’s memorandum of the 7th instant,2 announcing the departure of the Adriatic from New York, and pointing out that, as she had no war material on board and carried no army reservists, these data bear out the assurances that the Adriatic was bound on a peaceful commercial voyage and that her armament was destined solely for defensive purposes.

I have [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Ante, p. 606.
  2. Ante, p. 607.