File No. 763.72112/1193

The Secretary of State ad interim to the Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page )

No. 1122]

Sir: These are quoted cables from the American Minister at The Hague, dated May 27 and May 28, 1915, respectively, in regard to shipments of tobacco from the Dutch East Indies to Holland for subsequent sale to Germany:

Tobacco from Netherlands colonies may come to Holland consigned to agents of colonial estates for sale at auction without restriction to both neutrals and belligerents. Tobacco from all other sources must be consigned to Netherlands Oversea Trust and may not be exported to belligerent countries. This is not discrimination made by Netherlands Government but modus vivendi arranged by Allies with Oversea Trust based on theory that Netherlands and colonies are one country.

Referring to tobacco from other sources than Netherlands colonies, Oversea Trust official says some tobacco has come to Holland from Santo Domingo and been sold without restriction but that this was afloat before March 1 and that the rules are being strictly and impartially enforced except as to Netherlands colonies.

From the Minister’s cable of May 27, supra, it appears that the situation pointed out does not result from any action on the part of the Netherlands Government, but from an arrangement entered into between the Allies and the Oversea Trust, by which arrangement tobacco from the United States to Holland becomes the object of British interception while tobacco from the colonies of the Netherlands is permitted to go free to be sold without restriction as to belligerent destination. The situation thus produced is regarded as constituting an important exception to the so-called general blockade indicated in the British order in council of March 11, 1915, and a discrimination imposed by the British Government against American exporters of tobacco, in favor of tobacco from the Dutch East Indies. You are [Page 203] directed to bring, unofficially and without recognizing as legal the British order in council of March 11, 1915, this information to the attention of the proper British authorities, pointing out the view of this Government with reference to the discrimination stated.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing