File No. 811.0151/109

The Secretary of State to Representative Charles P. Caldwell

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22d ultimo, enclosing resolutions adopted at a meeting held at [Page 623] Long Island City on November 9 and handed to you by a committee of citizens of the second congressional district of New York.1

In these resolutions, which are signed by Hermann Koch as chairman and Frederick Dietz as secretary, it is alleged that atrocities Were committed on August 19, 1915, in the Irish Sea, against unarmed German submarine sailors by the British Admiralty ship Baralong, while displaying the American flag; that proof of these atrocities was duly filed at Washington by the German Government; and that the Government of the United States has refused to take action thereon, for which reason the resolutions “demand” that the Government of the United States take action “upon this most unparalleled and extraordinary abuse of the American flag.”

The Department takes note of your statement that your friends who presented the resolution assure you that it is not their wish to embarrass the administration, and of your request that you may be informed of the actual facts in the case and of the action, if any, that has been or may be taken by the Government in order that they and the community they represent may be properly and accurately advised.

Complying with this request, I have the honor to inform you that the Department has received conflicting evidence as to what occurred in the alleged attack of the Baralong upon a German submarine, and that among this evidence there are affidavits tending to prove that before the Baralong fired a shot the American flag was lowered and the proper flag hoisted in its place; and furthermore, that it has been held that the use of a neutral flag as a ruse de guerre is justifiable practice; but that the Department has given the matter serious consideration with a view to determining whether the principle involved has been violated in the present war by the use of the American flag.

Thanking you for the assurance with which your letter closes, of your whole-hearted support of the administration in the difficult matters growing out of the present war which have beset and are confronting it,

I have [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.