File No. 763.72112/1296
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy ( Page )
292. Your 307, May 29, and 344, July 7.1 Department has carefully studied the Italian decrees of May 26 and 28, and of July 6 last, from which it appears that certain coasts of Albania, a non-combatant in the present war, have been declared blockaded and that subsequently the Adriatic has virtually been declared a closed sea. As it is not apparent to this Government that any authority exists in international law or usage for this action on the part of the Italian Government, and as the report that enemies of Italy are using Albanian ports and roadsteads for the clandestine revictualing and refueling of Austro-Hungarian ships does not, in the opinion of this Government, constitute sufficient ground for the course of the Italian Government, the Government of the United States does not doubt that means have been provided and instructions have been given the Italian Navy to relieve American trade and shipping from the restrictions to which the existing decrees would seem to subject them in the Adriatic. The United States, therefore, desires to be fully informed as to the nature of these means and the tenor of the instructions. If, however, there should prove to be no modifications applicable to neutral trade and shipping, the United States would feel bound to notify the Royal Italian Government that it will be necessary for it formally to refuse to accede to the application of these decrees in so far as, by infringing the established rules of international law and practice, they should adversely affect the freedom of American commerce in the enjoyment of neutral rights and privileges in the Adriatic.
Please present a note to the Italian Foreign Office in the sense of the foregoing, and impress upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs the seriousness with which this Government would view any such restrictions of its established neutral rights on the seas.