The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Treasury (McAdoo)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of February 1 addressed to Solicitor Johnson, enclosing [Page 319] one from Mr. George E. Warren of New York, who desires to know whether a cargo of foodstuffs consigned to Germany would or would not be considered contraband, and in reply beg leave to say that the right of neutrals to ship foodstuffs and other conditional contraband to the territories of belligerents, when destined and intended for use by the civilian population and not destined or intended for ultimate delivery to a department of the belligerent government, or its armed forces, is well established. But shippers proposing to send foodstuffs to Germany should consider the situation produced by reported recent decree of the German authorities, which, from the accounts of it received by the Department, appears to establish a governmental control, if not to constitute expropriation, of the food supply in Germany. The British Government have said that, in view of this decree and its effect, they must regard shipments of foodstuffs to Germany as, in fact, destined for the German Government. Without at this time undertaking to determine the effect of the decree, the text of which we have not, the Department feels that interested persons should be advised that the status of shipments of provisions to Germany is put in doubt by reason of the decree mentioned.
I have [etc.]