File No. 763.72112/1634

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


2869. The following note dated September 24 has to-day been received from Foreign Office:

I have the honour to refer to my note of the 13th August,3 relative to the reports made by the United States Consul General in London as to the increase in British exports to northern European ports since the outbreak of war.

Since that date my attention has been called to the publication in the Commerce Reports issued by the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce of the United States Department of Commerce of reports on British foreign trade by Mr. Consul General Skinner which convey the impression that His Majesty’s Government are attempting by one means or another to capture for the British Empire the legitimate trade of the United States; this at any rate is the impression which it appears to have conveyed to a large section of the press in the United States, where attention has been particularly drawn to the following passage in Mr. Skinner’s report on British trade for July last: “It continues to be the case that many classes of goods, the exportation of which from the United States to neutral countries is continued with great difficulties and hazards, are going forward freely from Great Britain to the same countries and in some cases in largely increased quantities.”3

I need hardly say how injurious these allegations are to the good name of His Majesty’s Government who have endeavoured by the systematic prohibition of exports from the United Kingdom and every other means in their power to make it clear to all neutral countries that they are in no way discriminated against by the belligerent measures enforced against the oversea trade of Germany and her allies.

His Majesty’s Government are therefore anxious without further delay to publish the memorandum which your excellency was good enough to communicate to me on the 3d June last4 regarding the desire of the United States Consul General in London to be furnished with figures showing the amount of cocoa [Page 558] exported from Great Britain to the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Italy during the first four months of this year as compared with the same period in 1914 and 1913, together with the note which I had the honour to address to your excellency on the 13th ultimo showing the general position as regards the increases in British exports during the first five months of 1915 as compared with the increases in exports from the United States during the same period.

The question of the publication of this correspondence has now been the subject of informal communication between the United States Embassy and this Department for more than a month and I have no doubt that your excellency will realize the importance which His Majesty’s Government attribute to this publication in view of the adverse comments on the policy of the Allies which have appeared in the press in the United States of America. I have therefore the honour to ask your excellency to press upon the United States Government the urgency of this matter.

His Majesty’s Government will evidently be compelled to publish this correspondence at an early date and would be reluctant to do so without having received the assent of the United States Government Who will no doubt realize how essential it is In the interest of this country that both sides of the case should receive equal publicity in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British Government betray much feeling about this often-repeated accusation and hitherto silence concerning their request to publish the above-referred-to correspondence is creating a bad impression. I have asked Skinner to give me facts in any concrete case and up to this date no concrete case of this sort against the British Government has been given to me or found by me fortified [by] definite facts. This situation is becoming serious. If we refrain from consenting to publication of Foreign Office note of August 13 they will publish it without our consent.

American Ambassador
  1. Commerce Reports, August 30, 1915, No. 203, vol. 3, p. 1055.
  2. Commerce Reports, August 30, 1915, No. 203, vol. 3, p. 1055.
  3. Ante, p. 514.