File No. 211.42H78/7a
The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Spring Rice)
My Dear Mr. Ambassador: Referring to your note of February 3, in which you suggested that this Government consider the advisability of placing guards on the American side of all international bridges between Canada and the United States, I beg to inform you that, after a careful consideration of the matter, the Department has the following observations to make:
I am doubtful whether, in the present situation and with the facts now in its possession, the Government of the United States would have any authority to place guards on the American side of the international bridges as requested. It would appear that at the present time the thing to be apprehended is injury done to persons or property within the jurisdiction of a state, and the local authorities have the sole jurisdiction and responsibility with respect thereto. If the local authorities are unable to handle the situation and call upon the United States in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law, then for the first time would the Federal Government have any power or responsibility in the premises, Since the United States is at peace with all countries and there is no proof that any country is using our territory as a base for military operations, I do not see how we can, under the guise of military operations, place guards within the several states for the purpose indicated.
I am [etc.]