File No. 300.115/4482

The Foreign Trade Adviser of the Department of State ( Fleming ) to the Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy ( Crawford )

My Dear Sir Richard : In the informal talk I had with you on yesterday in regard to the bringing forward of goods of German origin, no mention was made of the closing paragraph included in the note of Sir Edward Grey of July 31, 1915, concerning the Neches,2 which reads as follows:

If however, it be alleged that in particular cases and special circumstances hardship may be Inflicted on citizens of neutral countries, His Majesty’s Government are ready in such cases to examine the facts in a spirit of consideration for the interest of neutrals, and in this spirit they, are prepared to deal with the cargo of the Neches, to which your excellency has called attention, if it is held that the particular circumstances of this case fall within this category.

My attention has been brought to several letters from American citizens referring to the paragraph mentioned and inquiring whether it applies to cases of merchants of the United States who are the [Page 229] owners of merchandise of German origin contracted or paid for prior to March 1, 1915.

It would seem of mutual advantage to have the examination of the facts of such cases made in Washington.

In view of the note of July 31, may I ask whether it may not be arranged to have you consider the applications of Americans for assurances against molestation when it is made to appear—

That the applicants are the owners of the goods.
That the goods were paid for in good faith prior to March 1, 1915.
That the goods have been contracted for and the purchase money was forwarded to Germany prior to March 1, 1915.
That hardships will be inflicted by the failure to allow the goods to come forward.

If the goods were fully paid or legally contracted for and the purchase money transmitted to Germany before promulgation of the order in council of March 11, 1915, it would seem that the goods would fall within the category mentioned. If the goods are already in a neutral country, Germany could neither be injured nor benefited by favorable action on the part of your Government, while if they are now in Germany that country might be benefited by having them kept there, since Germany would have both the goods and the purchase money.

I am [etc.]

W. B. Fleming
  1. post, p. 495.