File No. 811.73/19.
The Secretary of State to the Governor of Connecticut.
Washington, July 26, 1915.
Sir: I have the honor to invite your attention to the request of the Compagnie Française des Câbles, which appears to own and operate: a, submarine cable connecting the United States and France and a land line used in conjunction therewith running from Orleans, Massachusetts, to New York City, that it be exempted from certain taxes which appear to have been assessed by the authorities of the State of Connecticut upon its property situated in that State. This; request of the company is transmitted and supported by the Ambassador of France.
[The paragraphs here omitted are identical with those in the letter to the Governor of Massachusetts.]
The Department also pointed out to the Ambassador that the law of the Legislature of Massachusetts complained of applies uniformly to all corporations, American as well as foreign; and that there is, therefore, no probability of discriminaton against the Compagnie Française des Câbles such as the French Government appears to apprehend might result; but that in case of the assessment to the company of taxes regarded by it as illegal, discriminatory or confiscatory the company would, of course, have access to the appropriate courts for the proper adjudication of the question.
There appeared to be an equitable consideration in the matter, however, which seemed to me of sufficient import to warrant its being brought to the attention of the Governor of Massachusetts. It seems; that under the agreement between the French Government and the Compagnie Française des Câbles the latter transmits over its Cables the official telegraphic communications of the French Government free of charge. It results, therefore, that in accordance with paragraph four of the conditions imposed by this Government upon the landing of the cable in the United States, which require that the charges made for transmission of the official messages of the United States shall be the same as those required for the transmission of similar messages of the French Government, the company is required to transmit official messages of this Government free of charge. This results in a saving to this Government of several thousand dollars annually. The Compagnie Française des Câbles is the only submarine cable company which accords this favorable treatment to the Government of the United States and, while this is of course strictly in accordance with its agreement, it would seem to entitle the company to as liberal consideration as the Government of the United States or of the several States concerned can consistently bestow. The Department therefore invited the attention of the Governor of Massachusetts to these facts and to the request of the French Government and expressed its confidence that the authorities [Page 401]of Massachusetts will give the claims of the company as presented by the French Government friendly consideration, and will bear in mind the benefits reaped by this Government as hereinbefore stated.
In a note dated July 12, the French Ambassador states that the State of Connecticut has also assessed taxes against the property of the Compagnie Française des Câbles in that State. I have the honor, therefore, to bring the matter to your attention in the same spirit in which it was brought to the attention of the Governor of Massachusetts.
I have [etc.]