The Third Assistant Secretary of State (Phillips) to the Netherland Minister (Van Rappard)
My Dear Mr. van Rappard: I have your letter of July 28 regarding the status of armed merchant vessels of belligerent countries within the ports of the United States.[Page 848]
In reply to your inquiry I hasten to inform you that the Department has not published any regulations on this matter later than those of September 19, 1914. Furthermore, the Government of the United States has not made any arrangement with the British Government in regard to the status of armed merchant vessels, which would be at variance with the rules already established. However, I should say to you that, in discussing these matters with the British Ambassador he was informed of the embarrassing position in which this Government would be placed by being obliged to ascertain in each case whether a vessel was armed for defensive or offensive purposes, and that the result was that no British merchant vessels have entered American ports with guns for defensive purposes, with two exceptions, namely, the Adriatic which arrived in New York and the Merton, which arrived in Philadelphia.1
It will give me great pleasure to, keep you advised of any further developments in connection with this matter.
With kindest regards, I am [etc.]