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


1904. Your 2449, July 13. Unofficially inform Foreign Office that chartered vessel imperative as no shipping line will accept shipments American-owned goods without special permit. Article 4, order in council, prohibits shipments of American-owned goods of German or Austrian origin from Rotterdam or other neutral ports. British Embassy has many times given assurances that every facility will be given in case of detention for examination and release by proper officer of Crown. Refusal of Foreign Office to facilitate shipments [Page 228] is not in accord with this assurance. Cannot understand use by Foreign Office of words “or to the proceeds of their sale.” More than 3,000 importers, representing American-owned property, affected by this practical prohibition of importation of their goods, have complained to Department of State. You may discreetly state that they are influencing public sentiment because of their belief that this action is arbitrary, unjust, and unwarranted, and that unless relief is obtained great pressure will be brought to bear upon Government to adopt retaliatory measures.

You may also unofficially call attention to the fact that Foreign Office does not answer the question as to attitude of British Government towards American-owned goods contracted for in good faith prior to March 1 and for which importers are obligated. Unless title by reason of binding contracts prior to March 1 is recognized, those importers, who because of their standing conduct their business on large credits, will feel that they have been unjustly discriminated against, and the consequences will be most disastrous to them.

Refer Department’s 1750, June 22, and state that plan contemplates placing original papers before British Consul General at Rotterdam, requesting him to see to it that nothing but goods covered by satisfactory papers go aboard boat, and to give certificate to that effect; that duplicate of papers be examined by proper officer of the Crown in advance of ship’s coming to English port simply to save time and prevent long and expensive detention of boat.

Place these facts before Foreign Office and urge speedy consideration because of growing sentiment in this country. This must be unofficial and without recognition order in council, note of June 22, or other notes from British Government.1

  1. See the British memorandum of June 17, telegraphed by the Ambassador in Great Britain June 22, post, p. 443.