File No. 300.115/2208
Hays, Kaufmann and Lindheim to the Secretary of State
Dear Sir: We have been instructed by the W. L. Green Commission Company of St. Louis, Missouri, to inform you that they have this day shipped on the steamer Wilhelmina a cargo of foodstuffs destined for Hamburg, Germany, and consigned to the W. L. Green Commission Company, Hamburg, Germany.
On January 2, 1915, our clients wrote to you from St. Louis in reference to their desire to sell a cargo of foodstuffs for German consumption. In reply thereto, they received a telegram from you dated January 12, 1915, confirming their understanding of the proposition of international law involved; namely, that they had the right to ship foodstuffs, provided they were not destined or intended as supplies for a belligerent government or its armed forces.
After deliberation and consultation, they decided not to consign these goods to any German buyers nor to sell them to any German citizens or residents, nor to obtain any guarantee from the German Government that the foodstuffs were not for military usage. Instead, they have chartered an American ship, the Wilhelmina . This ship has been an American ship for a number of years. The captain and officers are all citizens of this country and the crew practically likewise, except that there are a few citizens of such neutral countries as Spain, Sweden, and Norway.
The cargo consists solely of foodstuffs comprising wheat, corn, oats, hams, beef, tongues, pork, lard, dried fruit, peas, and beans. There is no cargo of any other nature whatsoever on this ship, of which fact we can furnish you proper guarantees and evidence.
The W. L. Green Commission Company has paid for and owns the entire cargo on the ship and proposed to send its representative, the manager of its export department, Mr. W. T. Brooking, to Hamburg, Germany, to take charge of said cargo and dispose of same solely to the civil population.
Attached to the manifest and filed in the customhouse here in New York City and to the copy of the manifest in the possession of the captain of the vessel is an affidavit stating the facts and guaranteeing and warranting that the cargo is solely for consumption by the civil population and that no part thereof will be sold to any belligerent power or its military or naval forces or any agent or contractor supplying the same.
The W. L. Green Commission Company has been in the business of exporting foodstuffs to Europe for many years, and its business with Germany has ceased owing to the arbitrary paper blockade established by the Allies.
It has been advised by its attorneys that it has, as a matter of undoubted law, the right to ship foodstuffs to the civil population of [Page 314] belligerent countries. It has likewise relied on the statement of international law laid down in your telegram of January 12. It recognizes that you are not, as you stated, prepared to give any promise in advance as your action depends on the circumstances of the case. We are merely calling these facts to your attention so that if the ship is detained by any foreign war vessel, you will be in position to know the facts. We are prepared to furnish you with any proof or guarantee that you may desire.
The vessel is American; the officers are American; the consignees are American; the cargo is of American manufacture. It is an American venture pure and simple and no one else has any interest in it whatsoever.
If you should desire to communicate with our clients in reference to this matter, Mr. Lindheim of this office would be glad to discuss the matter with you or your representative in Washington, if you will telegraph us and make an appointment.
We beg to remain [etc.]