File No. 841.857/80

The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador ( Jusserand )

No. 1609]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of October 3, 1915, with which, having reference to previous [Page 895] correspondence concerning the placing of incendiary bombs in British vessels sailing from the port of New York, you enclose copies of papers received by you.

In conformity with the Department’s intention, as expressed in its note of July 23 last, to communicate with you upon receipt of replies from the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, and the Governor of New York to the Department’s inquiries as to what steps were being taken by them in order to prevent the recurrence of the character of offenses complained of in your note of July 13, I have now the honor to advise you as follows:

The Department has received from the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury a reply with which was transmitted a copy of a report from the collector of customs at New York, from which it appears that the agents of the Federal Government and the police commissioner of New York are cooperating in this matter, and are doing everything in their power to prevent the recurrence of such offenses. It further appears from the report of the collector of customs that the harbor police are on the lookout; that plain clothes men have been placed on the piers; that the detective bureau has been conducting an investigation to ascertain the source of the bombs and explosives that have been placed on ships; that customs officers performing supervisory duties are stationed night and day on every pier in New York where a ship is loading for a foreign port, and that they are doing all they can to aid the steamship companies in seeing that nothing but that which is properly manifested and described is placed aboard the vessels.

The Attorney General has replied stating that he has caused a prompt investigation to be made of the facts in the cases reported to him; and that, while he had not as yet obtained any evidence to warrant an indictment under any criminal law of the United States, if any evidence can be obtained in the future of the commission of any Federal crime, the matter will be vigorously prosecuted.

From the Governor of New York the Department has received a reply with which he enclosed copy of a letter addressed by him to the Mayor of New York, from which the following is an excerpt:

I am not unmindful of the fact that you and those officials under you, charged with the duty of enforcing our criminal laws, have already taken cognizance of ... (these) ... and are endeavoring to bring the offenders to justice and to prevent a repetition of such offenses in the future. But I desire to call your attention to the situation relative to these offenses and to the importance attached thereto by the Secretary of State, and to urge upon you and through you upon those charged with the duty of preventing the commission of crime and the punishment of offenders against our criminal laws, the importance of taking such precautions as will prevent the repetition of offenses similar to those complained of in the future and to use every effort to bring to justice those guilty of such offenses in the past.

I can not too strongly urge upon you the imperative necessity for such action.

Accept [etc.]

Robert Lansing