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Preface

Foreign Relations of the United States for the year 1914 contained the following editorial note:

Diplomatic correspondence concerning the World War will be printed in separate volumes of “Foreign Relations of the United States: The History of the World War, as shown by the records of the Department of State.”

The present volume is the first of these supplemental volumes, which are being published for the years 1914 to 1919, inclusive. It is hoped that the other volumes, upon several of which work is well advanced, will follow shortly.

In order that there may be a complete understanding of the method of procedure in the selection of the documents for Foreign Relations, the statement of the principles to guide in the editing thereof, which was ordered and approved by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925, is here given in full:

The publication of diplomatic correspondence relating to matters which are still current often presents an insuperable obstacle to effective negotiation, but it is obvious that after the completion of the business in hand, as much of the correspondence as is practicable ought to be made public. This object is attained by the publication of Foreign Relations which presents, in a form economical, compact and easily accessible, the documentary history of the foreign relations of the United States. The editing of Foreign Relations must, therefore, be recognized as an important part of the duties of the Department of State.

The Chief of the Division of Publications is charged with the preparation for this purpose, as soon as practicable after the close of each year, of the correspondence relating to all major policies and decisions of the Department in the matter of foreign relations, together with the events which contributed to the formulation of each decision or policy, and the facts incident to the application of it. It is expected that the material thus assembled, aside from the omission of trivial and inconsequential details, will be substantially complete as regards the files of the Department.

The development of the science of international law has become a matter of such weight and general concern that it is recommended that the Chief of the Division of Publications, with the help and counsel of the Solicitor, should give special attention to the publication of all important decisions made by the Department relating to international law, with a view to making available for general study and use the annual contributions of the Department to this important branch of jurisprudence. It is likewise believed that the Department may profitably inaugurate the practice of printing a record of treaty negotiations, and it is, therefore, suggested that such material be added, beginning with Foreign Relations 1918, which is now in the process of editing.

When the documents on a given subject have been assembled in the Division of Publications, they should be submitted to the Solicitor or to the Chief of the appropriate division which has had immediate supervision of the topic. The Solicitor, or the heads of these divisions, respectively, are charged with the duty of reviewing the material thus assembled and indicating any omissions which appear to be required. Omissions of the following kind are recognized as legitimate and necessary:

(a)
Matters which if published at the time would tend to embarrass negotiations or other business;
(b)
To condense the record and avoid needless details;
(c)
To preserve the confidence reposed in the Department by other governments and by individuals;
(d)
To avoid needless offense to other nationalities or individuals by excising invidious comments not relevant or essential to the subject; and,
(e)
To suppress personal opinions presented in despatches and not adopted by the Department. To this there is one qualification, namely, that in major decisions it is desirable, where possible, to show the choices presented to the Department when the decision was made.

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On the other hand, there must be no alteration of the text, no deletions without indicating the place in the text where the deletion is made, and no omission of facts which were of major importance in reaching a decision. Nothing should be omitted with a view to concealing or glossing over what might be regarded by some as a defect of a policy.

Where a document refers to two or more subjects, provided there are no other objections, it should be printed in its entirety, and not divided for purposes of more exact classification in editing. Great care must be taken to avoid the mutilation of documents. On the other hand, when a foreign government, in giving permission to use a communication, requests the deletion of any part of it, it is usually preferable to publish the document in part rather than to omit it entirely. A similar principle may be applied with reference to documents originating with the American Government.

The Chief of the Division of Publications is expected to initiate, through the appropriate channels, the correspondence necessary to secure from a foreign government permission to publish any document received from it and which it is desired to publish as a part of the diplomatic correspondence of the United States. Without such permission, the document in question must not be used. The offices and divisions concerned in this process of editing may be expected to cooperate heartily with a view to the preparation of an adequate and honest record.

While conforming to the general scheme of publication of Foreign Relations year by year, other features in the selection and arrangement of papers for these supplemental volumes appear to present sufficient peculiarities to call for special mention.

For obvious reasons, arising out of the general character of the events and questions dealt with in these documents, their classification within the volumes departs from the system ordinarily followed in Foreign Relations of grouping papers by the countries with which the correspondence took place. With a view to bringing out as fully as possible the significance of the documents selected for publication, other arrangements have been adopted for placing them in their proper context and perspective.

The papers of a general political character relating to the outbreak and spread of the war (omitting those dealing merely with military developments) are arranged in a single chronological sequence, including those connected with projects of American mediation. Those dealing with the Far East are grouped in a separate section, omitted after 1914, because the developments are covered in the regular volumes of Foreign Relations. The other papers are arranged topically under three main divisions, of which the two most important deal respectively with the rights and the duties pertaining to the position of neutrality occupied by the United States.

In regard to the chronological order, as followed in all sections, it should be further noted that, contrary to recent custom, incoming documents are placed, as accurately as possible, according to their date of receipt rather than that of dispatch, except for occasional slight transpositions for the purpose of keeping related documents together. This practice is followed in order to maintain the context between decisions or actions taken and the information available at the time. The users of the documents are thus placed, to some extent, in the position of the Secretary of State through whose hands the correspondence passed. In the case of telegrams, the time of receipt is that noted by the telegraph operator. In the case of other documents, it is generally determined by the earliest date noted or stamped on the original paper.

The principles of selection and exclusion of material laid down in the directions approved by the Secretary of State have been followed [Page V]in assembling these papers. In cases in which material omitted because of undue length has been published officially elsewhere, reference is ordinarily made to the publications containing it. Instances of this sort which occur in the Supplement for 1915 concern Consular Trade Reports, published currently by the Department of Commerce, and collections of affidavits, etc., relating to submarine sinkings, which were included in the war-time publications of the Department of State under the title “Diplomatic correspondence with belligerent governments relating to neutral rights and duties” (European War, Nos. 1–4; reprinted as special supplements to Volumes 9, 10, and 11 of the American Journal of International Law).

Practically all the papers printed in the departmental publications referred to above are reincorporated into this Supplement; but, besides the inclusion of numerous papers not previously published, the rearrangements, changes, substitutions, and omissions are so extensive that no close correspondence will be found with the older series. Furthermore, documents formerly printed in paraphrase are now given in their actual text.

In addition to the general principles of the editing of Foreign Relations observed in compiling these papers, mention is required, in connection with the Supplement, of certain special lines of exclusion which operate in some cases against practically entire files of correspondence arising out of the World War. Some of these are omitted on the ground that they involve no important questions of policy or international law. Thus, no effort is made to cover the general subject of the repatriation of American citizens stranded in Europe by the breakdown of financial and transportation systems, although during the early weeks of the struggle the efforts of the Government to relieve their situation constituted one of the heaviest drains on the time and energies of the Department of State and the embassies, legations, and consulates abroad. From the considerable file of correspondence entailed, the only papers printed are those bearing on the project of transferring German and Austrian ships to the American flag for the purpose of facilitating this work. For the above-mentioned reasons, also, the correspondence relating to the placing of military observers with belligerent forces is omitted.

Other files are excluded as dealing with no issues in which the policies of the American Government or the interests of American citizens were directly involved. In this category falls practically all correspondence arising out of the fact that the United States was acting as representative of a belligerent government in countries with which that government was at war. The general instructions to diplomatic and consular officers charged with such representation are printed, together with correspondence on certain specific instances in which the limits of their authority to act for the foreign governments came into question; but communications between foreign governments and announcements as to their treatment of the subjects of other governments and their property, which reached the Department’s files only through its service as a medium of transmission without comment, do not appear. The principal files excluded under this canon are those on the treatment by belligerent governments of enemy property and enemy persons—both prisoners of war and civilians. Others affected are those on the representation [Page VI]and protection of interests of particular governments in particular countries. On the same principle is excluded the general file on the designation and rights of hospital ships attached to belligerent forces. A limited selection of documents from the file dealing with allegations as to the use of illegal and inhumane methods of warfare is printed, in order to bring out the attitude taken toward them by the American Government, to which they were so largely addressed.

With particular reference to the sections dealing with problems of international law, the general rule has been to exclude correspondence on particular cases which raise no new issues, but which are settled in a more or less routine manner according to principles determined in other cases for which papers are printed, or which are dropped because the facts are found not to be as first represented.

There is given below an exchange of letters between the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, under date of January 8 and 20, 1915, since this correspondence constitutes in some degree a review of the conduct of the Department of State in maintaining American neutrality during the year 1914, and therefore forms a logical introduction to the papers relating to that period of the World War. Papers bearing on all specific cases and statements of fact included in the Secretary’s reply to Senator Stone are printed in this volume, with the exception of those under the heading “Searching of American vessels for German and Austrian subjects on the high seas and in territorial waters of a belligerent,” which are included in the Supplement for 1915.

It may be added that the chief responsibility for the selection and arrangement of these papers was assigned to Dr. Joseph V. Fuller.

Tyler Dennett
Chief, Division of Publications
Correspondence Between the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, January 8 and 20, 1915, Reviewing the Maintenance of Neutrality During 1914

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations ( Stone ) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: As you are aware, frequent complaints or charges are made in one form or another through the press that this Government has shown partiality to Great Britain, France, and Russia as against Germany and Austria during the present war between those powers; in addition to which I have received numerous letters to the same effect from sympathizers with Germany and Austria. The various grounds of these complaints may be summarized and stated in the following form:

1.
Freedom of communication by submarine cables, but censorship of wireless messages.
2.
Submission to censorship of mails and in some cases to the repeated destruction of American letters found on neutral vessels.
3.
The search of American vessels for German and Austrian subjects—
(a)
On the high seas;
(b)
In territorial waters of a belligerent.
4.
[Page VII]Submission without protest to English violations of the rules regarding absolute and conditional contraband, as laid down—
(a)
In the Hague conventions;
(b)
In international law;
(c)
In the Declaration of London.
5.
Submission without protest to inclusion of copper in the list of absolute contraband.
6.
Submission without protest to interference with American trade to neutral countries—
(a)
In conditional contraband;
(b)
In absolute contraband.
7.
Submission without protest to interruption of trade in conditional contraband consigned to private persons in Germany and Austria, thereby supporting the policy of Great Britain to cut off all supplies from Germany and Austria.
8.
Submission to British interruption of trade in petroleum, rubber, leather, wool, etc.
9.
No interference with the sale to Great Britain and her allies of arms, ammunition, horses, uniforms, and other munitions of war, although such sales prolong the war.
10.
No suppression of sale of dumdum bullets to Great Britain.
11.
British warships are permitted to lie off American ports and intercept neutral vessels.
12.
Submission without protest to disregard by Great Britain and her allies of—
(a)
American naturalization certificates;
(b)
American passports.
13.
Change of policy in regard to loans to belligerents:
(a)
General loans;
(b)
Credit loans.
14.
Submission to arrest of native-born Americans on neutral vessels and in British ports, and their imprisonment.
15.
Indifference to confinement of non-combatants in detention camps in England and France.
16.
Failure to prevent transshipment of British troops and war material across the territory of the United States.
17.
Treatment and final internment of German steamship Geier and the collier Locksun at Honolulu.
18.
Unfairness to Germany in rules relative to coaling of warships in Panama Canal Zone.
19.
Failure to protest against the modifications of the Declaration of London by the British Government.
20.
General unfriendly attitude of Government toward Germany and Austria.

If you deem it not incompatible with the public interest, I would be obliged if you would furnish me with whatever information your Department may have touching these various points of complaint, or request the Counselor of the State Department to send me the information, with any suggestions you or he may deem advisable to make with respect to either the legal or political aspects of the subject. So far as informed, I see no reason why all the matter I am requesting to be furnished should not be made public, to the end that the true situation may be known and misapprehensions quieted.

I have [etc.]

Wm. J. Stone

The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations ( Stone )

Dear Mr. Stone: I have received your letter of the 8th instant, referring to frequent complaints or charges made in one form or another through the press [Page VIII]that this Government has shown partiality to Great Britain, France, and Russia against Germany and Austria during the present war, and stating that you have received numerous letters to the same effect from sympathizers with the latter powers. You summarize the various grounds of these complaints and ask that you be furnished with whatever information the Department may have touching these points of complaint, in order that you may be informed as to what the true situation is in regard to these matters.

In order that you may have such information as the Department has on the subjects referred to in your letter, I will take them up seriatim.

(1) Freedom of communication by submarine cables versus censored communication by wireless.

The reason that wireless messages and cable messages require different treatment by a neutral government is as follows:

Communications by wireless can not be interrupted by a belligerent. With a submarine cable it is otherwise. The possibility of cutting the cable exists, and if a belligerent possesses naval superiority the cable is cut, as was the German cable near the Azores by one of Germany’s enemies and as was the British cable near Fanning Island by a German naval force. Since a cable is subject to hostile attack, the responsibility falls upon the belligerent and not upon the neutral to prevent cable communication.

A more important reason, however, at least from the point of view of a neutral government, is that messages sent out from a wireless station in neutral territory may be received by belligerent warships on the high seas. If these messages, whether plain or in cipher, direct the movements of warships or convey to them information as to the location of an enemy’s public or private vessels, the neutral territory becomes a base of naval operations, to permit which would be essentially unneutral.

As a wireless message can be received by all stations and vessels within a given radius, every message in cipher, whatever its intended destination, must be censored; otherwise military information may be sent to warships off the coast of a neutral. It is manifest that a submarine cable is incapable of becoming a means of direct communication with a warship on the high seas. Hence its use can not, as a rule, make neutral territory a base for the direction of naval operations.

(2) Censorship of mails and in some cases repeated destruction of American letters on neutral vessels.

As to the censorship of mails, Germany as well as Great Britain has pursued this course in regard to private letters falling into their hands. The unquestioned right to adopt a measure of this sort makes objection to it inadvisable.

It has been asserted that American mail on board of Dutch steamers has been repeatedly destroyed. No evidence to this effect has been filed with the Government, and therefore no representations have been made. Until such a case is presented in concrete form, this Government would not be justified in presenting the matter to the offending belligerent. Complaints have come to the Department that mail on board neutral steamers has been opened and detained, but there seem to be but few cases where the mail from neutral countries has not been finally delivered. When mail is sent to belligerent countries open and is of a neutral and private character, it has not been molested, so far as the Department is advised.

(3) Searching of American vessels for German and Austrian subjects on the high seas and in territorial waters of a belligerent.

So far as this Government has been informed, no American vessels on the high seas, with two exceptions, have been detained or searched by belligerent warships for German and Austrian subjects. One of the exceptions to which reference is made is now the subject of a rigid investigation, and vigorous representations have been made to the offending government. The other exception, where certain German passengers were made to sign a promise not to take part in the war, has been brought to the attention of the offending government with a declaration that such procedure, if true, is an unwarranted exercise of jurisdiction over American vessels in which this Government will not acquiesce.

An American private vessel entering voluntarily the territorial waters of a belligerent becomes subject to its municipal laws, as do the persons on board the vessel.

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There have appeared in certain publications the assertion that failure to protest in these cases is an abandonment of the principle for which the United States went to war in 1812. If the failure to protest were true, which it is not, the principle involved is entirely different from the one appealed to against unjustifiable impressment of Americans in the British Navy in time of peace.

(4) Submission without protest to British violations of the rules regarding absolute and conditional contraband as laid down in the Hague conventions, the Declaration of London, and international law.

There is no Hague convention which deals with absolute or conditional contraband, and, as the Declaration of London is not in force, the rules of international law only apply. As to the articles to be regarded as contraband, there is no general agreement between nations. It is the practice for a country, either in time of peace or after the outbreak of war, to declare the articles which it will consider as absolute or conditional contraband. It is true that a neutral government is seriously affected by this declaration, as the rights of its subjects or citizens may be impaired. But the rights and interests of belligerents and neutrals are opposed in respect to contraband articles and trade and there is no tribunal to which questions of difference may be readily submitted.

The record of the United States in the past is not free from criticism. When neutral, this Government has stood for a restricted list of absolute and conditional contraband. As a belligerent, we have contended for a liberal list, according to our conception of the necessities of the case.

The United States has made earnest representations to Great Britain in regard to the seizure and detention by the British authorities of all American ships or cargoes bona fide destined to neutral ports, on the ground that such seizures and detentions were contrary to the existing rules of international law. It will be recalled, however, that American courts have established various rules bearing on these matters. The rule of “continuous voyage” has been not only asserted by American tribunals but extended by them. They have exercised the right to determine from the circumstances whether the ostensible was the real destination. They have held that the shipment of articles of contraband to a neutral port “to order,” from which, as a matter of fact, cargoes had been transshipped to the enemy, is corroborative evidence that the cargo is really destined to the enemy instead of to the neutral port of delivery. It is thus seen that some of the doctrines which appear to bear harshly upon neutrals at the present time are analogous to or outgrowths from policies adopted by the United States when it was a belligerent. The Government therefore can not consistently protest against the application of rules which it has followed in the past, unless they have not been practiced as heretofore.

(5) Acquiescence without protest to the inclusion of copper and other articles in the British lists of absolute contraband.

The United States has now under consideration the question of the right of a belligerent to include “copper unwrought” in its list of absolute contraband instead of in its list of conditional contraband. As the Government of the United States has in the past placed “all articles from which ammunition is manufactured” in its contraband list, and has declared copper to be among such materials, it necessarily finds some embarrassment in dealing with the subject.

Moreover, there is no instance of the United States acquiescing in Great Britain’s seizure of copper shipments. In every case in which it has been done vigorous representations have been made to the British Government, and the representatives of the United States have pressed for the release of the shipments.

(6) Submission without protest to interference with American trade to neutral countries in conditional and absolute contraband.

The fact that the commerce of the United States is interrupted by Great Britain is consequent upon the superiority of her Navy on the high seas. History shows that whenever a country has possessed that superiority our trade has been interrupted and that few articles essential to the prosecution of the war have been allowed to reach its enemy from this country. The Department’s recent note to the British Government, which has been made public, in regard to detentions and seizures of American vessels and cargoes, is a complete answer to this complaint.

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Certain other complaints appear aimed at the loss of profit in trade, which must include, at least in part, trade in contraband with Germany; while other complaints demand the prohibition of trade in contraband, which appear to refer to trade with the Allies.

(7) Submission without protest to interruption of trade in conditional contraband consigned to private persons in Germany and Austria, thereby supporting the policy of Great Britain to cut off all supplies from Germany and Austria.

As no American vessel, so far as known, has attempted to carry conditional contraband to Germany or Austria-Hungary, no ground of complaint has arisen out of the seizure or condemnation by Great Britain of an American vessel with a belligerent destination. Until a case arises and the Government has taken action upon it, criticism is premature and unwarranted. The United States in its note of December 281 to the British Government strongly contended for the principle of freedom of trade in articles of conditional contraband not destined to the belligerent’s forces.

(8) Submission to British interference with trade in petroleum, rubber, leather, wool, etc.

Petrol and other petroleum products have been proclaimed by Great Britain as contraband of war. In view of the absolute necessity of such products to the use of submarines, aeroplanes, and motors, the United States Government has not yet reached the conclusion that they are improperly included in a list of contraband. Military operations to-day are largely a question of motive power through mechanical devices. It is therefore difficult to argue successfully against the inclusion of petroleum among the articles of contraband. As to the detention of cargoes of petroleum going to neutral countries, this Government has thus far successfully obtained the release in every case of detention or seizure which has been brought to its attention.

Great Britain and France have placed rubber on the absolute contraband list and leather on the conditional contraband list. Rubber is extensively used in the manufacture and operation of motors and, like petrol, is regarded by some authorities as essential to motive power to-day. Leather is even more widely used in cavalry and infantry equipment. It is understood that both rubber and leather, together with wool, have been embargoed by most of the belligerent countries. It will be recalled that the United States has in the past exercised the right of embargo upon exports of any commodity which might aid the enemy’s cause.

(9) The United States has not interfered with the sale to Great Britain and her allies of arms, ammunition, horses, uniforms, and other munitions of war, although such sales prolong the conflict.

There is no power in the Executive to prevent the sale of ammunition to the belligerents.

The duty of a neutral to restrict trade in munitions of war has never been imposed by international law or by municipal statute. It has never been the policy of this Government to prevent the shipment of arms or ammunition into belligerent territory, except in the case of neighboring American Republics, and then only when civil strife prevailed. Even to this extent the belligerents in the present conflict, when they were neutrals, have never, so far as the records disclose, limited the sale of munitions of war. It is only necessary to point to the enormous quantities of arms and ammunition furnished by manufacturers in Germany to the belligerents in the Russo-Japanese war and in the recent Balkan wars to establish the general recognition of the propriety of the trade by a neutral nation.

It may be added that on the 15th of December last, the German Ambassador, by direction of his Government, presented a copy of a memorandum of the Imperial German Government which, among other things, set forth the attitude of that Government toward traffic in contraband of war by citizens of neutral countries. The Imperial Government stated that “under the general principles of international law, no exception can be taken to neutral States letting war material go to Germany’s enemies from or through neutral territory,” and that the adversaries of Germany in the present war are, in the opinion of the Imperial Government, authorized to “draw on the United States contraband of war and [Page XI]especially arms worth billions of marks.” These principles, as the Ambassador stated, have been accepted by the United States Government in the statement issued by the Department of State on October 15 last, entitled “Neutrality and trade in contraband.” Acting in conformity with the propositions there set forth, the United States has itself taken no part in contraband traffic, and has, so far as possible, lent its influence toward equal treatment for all belligerents in the matter of purchasing arms and ammunition of private persons in the United States.

(10) The United States has not suppressed the sale of dumdum bullets to Great Britain.

On December 5 last the German Ambassador addressed a note to the Department, stating that the British Government had ordered from the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. 20,000 “riot guns,” model 1897, and 50,000,000 “buckshot cartridges” for use in such guns. The Department replied that it saw a published statement of the Winchester Co., the correctness of which the company has confirmed to the Department by telegraph. In this statement the company categorically denies that it has received an order for such guns and cartridges from or made any sales of such material to the British Government, or to any other government engaged in the present war. The Ambassador further called attention to “information, the accuracy of which is not to be doubted,” that 8,000,000 cartridges fitted with “mushroom bullets” had been delivered since October of this year by the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. for the armament of the English Army. In reply the Department referred to the letter of December 10, 1914, of the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co., of New York, to the Ambassador, called forth by certain newspaper reports of statements alleged to have been made by the Ambassador in regard to the sales by that company of soft-nosed bullets.

From this letter, a copy of which was sent to the Department by the company, it appears that instead of 8,000,000 cartridges having been sold, only a little over 117,000 were manufactured and 109,000 were sold. The letter further asserts that these cartridges were made to supply a demand for a better sporting cartridge with a soft-nosed bullet than had been manufactured theretofore, and that such cartridges can not be used in the military rifles of any foreign powers. The company adds that its statements can be substantiated and that it is ready to give the Ambassador any evidence that he may require on these points. The Department further stated that it was also in receipt from the company of a complete detailed list of the persons to whom these cartridges were sold, and that from this list it appeared that the cartridges were sold to firms in lots of 20 to 2,000 and one lot each of 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000. Of these only 960 cartridges went to British North America and 100 to British East Africa.

The Department added that, if the Ambassador could furnish evidence that this or any other company is manufacturing and selling for the use of the contending armies in Europe cartridges whose use would contravene the Hague conventions, the Department would be glad to be furnished with this evidence, and that the President would, in case any American company is shown to be engaged in this traffic, use his influence to prevent, so far as possible, sales of such ammunition to the powers engaged in the European war, without regard to whether it is the duty of this Government, upon legal or conventional grounds, to take such action.

The substance of both the Ambassador’s note and the Department’s reply have appeared in the press.

The Department has received no other complaints of alleged sales of dumdum bullets by American citizens to belligerent governments.

(11) British warships are permitted to lie off American ports and intercept neutral vessels.

The complaint is unjustified from the fact that representations were made to the British Government that the presence of war vessels in the vicinity of New York Harbor was offensive to this Government, and a similar complaint was made to the Japanese Government as to one of its cruisers in the vicinity of the port of Honolulu. In both cases the warships were withdrawn.

It will be recalled that in 1863 the Department took the position that captures made by its vessels after hovering about neutral ports would not be regarded as valid. In the Franco-Prussian war, President Grant issued a proclamation [Page XII]warning belligerent warships against hovering in the vicinity of American ports for purposes of observation or hostile acts. The same policy has been maintained in the present war, and in all of the recent proclamations of neutrality the President states that such practice by belligerent warships is “unfriendly and offensive.”

(12) Great Britain and her allies are allowed without protest to disregard American citizenship papers and passports,

American citizenship papers have been disregarded in a comparatively few instances by Great Britain, but the same is true of all the belligerents. Bearers of American passports have been arrested in all the countries at war. In every case of apparent illegal arrest the United States Government has entered vigorous protests with request for release. The Department does not know of any cases, except one or two, which are still under investigation, in which naturalized Germans have not been released upon representations by this Government. There have, however, come to the Department’s notice authentic cases in which American passports have been fraudulently obtained and used by certain German subjects.

The Department of Justice has recently apprehended at least four persons of German nationality who, it is alleged, obtained American passports under pretense of being American citizens and for the purpose of returning to Germany without molestation by her enemies during the voyage. There are indications that a systematic plan had been devised to obtain American passports through fraud for the purpose of securing safe passage for German officers and reservists desiring to return to Germany. Such fraudulent use of passports by Germans themselves can have no other effect than to cast suspicion upon American passports in general. New regulations, however, requiring among other things the attaching of a photograph of the bearer to his passport, under the seal of the Department of State, and the vigilance of the Department of Justice, will doubtless prevent any further misuse of American passports.

(13) Change of policy in regard to loans to belligerents.

War loans in this country were disapproved because inconsistent with the spirit of neutrality. There is a clearly defined difference between a war loan and the purchase of arms and ammunition. The policy of disapproving of war loans affects all governments alike, so that the disapproval is not an unneutral act. The case is entirely different in the matter of arms and ammunition, because prohibition of export not only might not, but in this case would not, operate equally upon the nations at war. Then, too, the reason given for the disapproval of war loans is supported by other considerations which are absent in the case presented by the sale of arms and ammunition. The taking of money out of the United States during such a war as this might seriously embarrass the Government in case it needed to borrow money, and it might also seriously impair this Nation’s ability to assist the neutral nations which, though not participants in the war, are compelled to bear a heavy burden on account of the war, and, again, a war loan, if offered for popular subscription in the United States, would be taken up chiefly by those who are in sympathy with the belligerent seeking the loan. The result would be that, great numbers of the American people might become more earnest partisans, having material interest in the success of the belligerent whose bonds they hold. These purchases would not be confined to a few, but would spread generally throughout the country, so that the people would be divided into groups of partisans, which would result in intense bitterness and might cause an undesirable, if not a serious, situation. On the other hand, contracts for and sales of contraband are mere matters of trade. The manufacturer, unless peculiarly sentimental, would sell to one belligerent as readily as he would to another. No general spirit of partisanship is aroused—no sympathies excited. The whole transaction is merely a matter of business.

This Government has not been advised that any general loans have been made by foreign governments in this country since the President expressed his wish that loans of this character should not be made.

[Page XIII]

(14) Submission to arrest of native-born Americans on neutral vessels and in British ports and their imprisonment.

The general charge as to the arrest of American-born citizens on board neutral vessels and in British ports, the ignoring of their passports, and their confinement in jails, requires evidence to support it. That there have been cases of injustice of this sort is unquestionably true, but Americans in Germany have suffered in this way as Americans have in Great Britain. This Government has considered that the majority of these cases resulted from overzealousness on the part of subordinate officials in both countries. Every case which has been brought to the attention of the Department of State has been promptly investigated and, if the facts warranted, a demand for release has been made.

(15) Indifference to confinement of non-combatants in detention camps in England and Frame.

As to the detention of non-combatants confined in concentration camps, all the belligerents, with perhaps the exception of Servia and Russia, have made similar complaints and those for whom this Government is acting have asked investigations, which representatives of this Government have made impartially. Their reports have shown that the treatment of prisoners is generally as good as possible under the Conditions in all countries, and that there is no more reason to say that they are mistreated in one country than in another country or that this Government has manifested an indifference in the matter. As this Department’s efforts at investigations seemed to develop bitterness between the countries, the Department on November 20 sent a circular instruction to its representatives not to undertake further investigation of concentration camps.

But at the special request of the German Government that Mr. Jackson, former American Minister at Bucharest, now attached to the American Embassy at Berlin, make an investigation of the prison camps in England, in addition to the investigations already made, the Department has consented to dispatch Mr. Jackson on this special mission.

(16) Failure to prevent transshipment of British troops and war material across the territory of the United States.

The Department has had no specific case of the passage of convoys of troops across American territory brought to its notice. There have been rumors to this effect, but no actual facts have been presented. The transshipment of reservists of all belligerents who have requested the privilege has been permitted on condition that they travel as individuals and not as organized, uniformed, or armed bodies. The German Embassy has advised the Department that it would not be likely to avail itself of the privilege, but Germany’s ally, Austria-Hungary, did so.

Only one case raising the question of the transit of war material owned by a belligerent across United States territory has come to the Department’s notice. This was a request on the part of the Canadian Government for permission to ship equipment across Alaska to the sea. The request was refused.

(17) Treatment and final internment of German steamship “Geier” and the collier “Locksun” at Honolulu.

The Geier entered Honolulu on October 15 in an unseaworthy condition. The commanding officer reported the necessity of extensive repairs which would require an indefinite period for completion. The vessel was allowed the generous period of three weeks to November 7 to make repairs and leave the port, or, failing to do so, to be interned. A longer period would have been contrary to international practice, which does not permit a vessel to remain for a long time in a neutral port for the purpose of repairing a generally run-down condition due to long sea service. Soon after the German cruiser arrived at Honolulu a Japanese cruiser appeared off the port and the commander of the Geier chose to intern the vessel rather than to depart from the harbor.

Shortly after the Geier entered the port of Honolulu the steamer Locksun arrived. It was found that this vessel had delivered coal to the Geier en route and had accompanied her toward Hawaii. As she had thus constituted herself a tender or collier to the Geier, she was accorded the same treatment and interned on November 7.

[Page XIV]

(18) Unfairness to Germany in rules relative to coaling of warships in Panama Canal Zone.

By proclamation of November 13, 1914, certain special restrictions were placed on the coaling of warships or their tenders or colliers in the Canal Zone. These regulations were framed through the collaboration of the State, Navy, and War Departments and without the slightest reference to favoritism to the belligerents. Before these regulations were proclaimed, war vessels could procure coal of the Panama Railway in the Zone ports, but no belligerent vessels are known to have done so. Under the proclamation fuel may be taken on by belligerent warships only with the consent of the Canal authorities and in such amounts as will enable them to reach the nearest accessible neutral port; and the amount so taken on shall be deducted from the amount procurable in United States ports within three months thereafter. Now, it is charged the United States has shown partiality because Great Britain and not Germany happens to have colonies in the near vicinity where British ships may coal, while Germany has no such coaling facilities. Thus, it is intimated the United States should balance the inequalities of geographical position by refusing to allow any warships of belligerents to coal in the Canal until the war is over. As no German warship has sought to obtain coal in the Canal Zone, the charge of discrimination rests upon a possibility which during several months of warfare has failed to materialize.

(19) Failure to protest against the modifications of the Declaration of London by the British Government.

The German Foreign Office presented to the diplomats in Berlin a memorandum dated October 10, calling attention to violations of and changes in the Declaration of London by the British Government and inquiring as to the attitude of the United States toward such action on the part of the Allies. The substance of the memorandum was forthwith telegraphed to the Department on October 22 and was replied to shortly thereafter to the effect that the United States had withdrawn its suggestion, made early in the war, that for the sake of uniformity the Declaration of London should be adopted as a temporary code of naval warfare during the present war, owing to the unwillingness of the belligerents to accept the declaration without changes and modifications, and that thenceforth the United States would insist that the rights of the United States and its citizens in the war should be governed by the existing rules of international law.

As this Government is not now interested in the adoption of the Declaration of London by the belligerents, the modifications by the belligerents in that code of naval warfare are of no concern to it except as they adversely affect the rights of the United States and those of its citizens as defined by international law. In so far as those rights have been infringed the Department has made every effort to obtain redress for the losses sustained.

(20) General unfriendly attitude of Government toward Germany and Austria.

If any American citizens, partisans of Germany and Austria-Hungary, feel that this administration is acting in a way injurious to the cause of those countries, this feeling results from the fact that on the high seas the German and Austro-Hungarian naval power is thus far inferior to the British. It is the business of a belligerent operating on the high seas, not the duty of a neutral, to prevent contraband from reaching an enemy. Those in this country who sympathize with Germany and Austria-Hungary appear to assume that some obligation rests upon this Government in the performance of its neutral duty to prevent all trade in contraband, and thus to equalize the difference due to the relative naval strength of the belligerents. No such obligation exists; it would be an unneutral act, an act of partiality on the part of this Government, to adopt such a policy if the Executive had the power to do so. If Germany and Austria-Hungary can not import contraband from this country, it is not, because of that fact, the duty of the United States to close its markets to the Allies. The markets of this country are open upon equal terms to all the world, to every nation, belligerent or neutral.

The foregoing categorical replies to specific complaints are sufficient answer to the charge of unfriendliness to Germany and Austria-Hungary.

I am [etc.]

W. J. Bryan
  1. Dated 26th, presented 28th. See post, p. 372.