File No. 763.72111/2415

The Montenegrin Delegate (Matanovitch) to the Secretary of State


The Royal Government of Montenegro needing workmen and reservists appointed three delegates on a mission to send back home its subjects residing in the United States. In the performance of that duty we had to make a tour and visit all Montenegrin colonies in America. At Chicago we held meeting, called on reservists to return home and do their duty. On that occasion I warned them that Montenegrins who had assumed American citizenship could not lawfully leave. In spite of warning, 24 Montenegrins of American nationality wishing to fight for native country falsely declared they were Montenegrin subjects. I, under physical impossibility to verify, as nearly all Montenegrins have lost national passport, shipped them to Canada with other reservists. American authorities discovered mistake, imprisoned 24 Montenegrins of American nationality and, in addition, unlawful order was, issued from Chicago to imprison [Page 763] the delegates of a sovereign power on special mission who in a case of vis major caused by physical impossibility, were unable, willing though they were, to prevent this slight infringement of neutrality principles summum jus, summa injuria. Nothing is absolute in life and cases of vis major extenuate, condone offense that free will could not prevent. I do not claim full diplomatic immunity, but had a right to expect, as the official representative of a sovereign state on special mission, more international comity. I am firmly convinced that from the standpoint of international law the Chicago authorities have erred in committing me to the jail of common criminals. I appeal to law, to your conscience, to the respect due to the official character of a sovereign state which I bear, in order to be immediately enabled to carry on my labors in the service of my country within the legal bounds of international law. I promise hereafter to submit all lists of reservists to the local authorities for verification as to their including American subjects which I am unable to do. I will appear before the court in charge of the case within a month, reposing full confidence in the right, in the law-abiding character of this great civilized country. I beg you, very honorable Sir, for an immediate answer. Please accept my most respectful homage.

J. Matanovitch