File No. 300.115/4119a

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


1750. Special permits for shipment of goods of German origin from neutral ports discontinued by British Government June 15, 1915. There are large amounts of American-owned goods in Germany and in Rotterdam for which title passed by contract without actual payment prior to March 1, 1915. Sir Richard Crawford, commercial adviser to the British Embassy, has stated that he is authorized to say that claimants may be informed that when the goods in question are brought forward, and in the event of their a detention by the British authorities, every facility will be given to have claims investigated by the proper officer of the Crown who will, if satisfied, apply for a release of the goods before adjudication.

As regular shipping lines will not accept shipments where detention is likely, the following plan has been proposed:

Importers to prepare shipping papers here establishing passage of title of goods to American ownership prior to March 1 by contract etc.; then to charter ship at Rotterdam and load with such goods; to submit original papers showing title by contract to British Consul at Rotterdam. Duplicate of papers to be sent to London for submission before ship sails from Rotterdam, to proper officer of Crown, he to be requested to examine papers before ship sails. When ship leaves Rotterdam, British Government to be notified by shippers that boat is coming to English port in order to have cargo examined by proper officer of Crown.

Importers desire to know what assurances of speedy examination can be received from the Admiralty and also the attitude of the British Government towards such a plan and towards goods of American ownership established by contract prior to March 1 and where actual payment has not been made.

Discreetly and informally present this matter to the proper officials, and with the understanding that such plan is not in any way to be considered as a recognition of the British order in council.

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[For a discussion of the arrangements for bringing goods out of Germany, see the British memorandum of June 17, 1915 (below, page 443), which was telegraphed by the Ambassador in Great Britain on June 22, 1915, and which contains the following paragraphs:

15. In deference, however, to the renewed representations of the United States Ambassador, His Majesty’s Government have given further directions that in all such cases, as may have been specially submitted through the British Embassy at Washington or to His Majesty’s Government direct on or before the 15th June and passed, the goods shall be allowed to proceed without interference, if shipped from a neutral port on the conditions already laid down, notwithstanding the fact that shipment may not have been made before the 15th June.

16. His Majesty’s Government will also be prepared hereafter to give special consideration to cases presented to them and involving particular hardships, if the goods concerned are required for neutral governments or municipalities, or in respect of works of public utility, and where payment can be shown to have been made before the 1st March, 1915.

17. With the above exceptions, His Majesty’s Government regret they can not continue to deal through the diplomatic channel with individual cases, but they would again point out that special provision is made for the consideration of such cases in the prize court.]