File No. 300.115/6619

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

No. 2745]

Sir: With reference to previous correspondence2 in regard to the steamship Esrom and to various items of her cargo which the British authorities have ordered to be placed in the prize court, I now have the honor to enclose herewith for the information of the Department [Page 660] a copy of a note addressed to the Foreign Office by the Embassy on December 13 in this regard together with a copy of the reply received from the Foreign Office under date of the 25th instant, in which the attitude of the British Government in reference to the cargo of this vessel is set forth.

I have [etc.]

Walter Hines Page
[Enclosure 1]

The American Ambassador ( Page ) to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Grey )

Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith, for your consideration, a copy of a letter which I have received from the representatives of an American firm, John H. Graham and Company, New York and San Francisco, with branches in London, England, and Sydney, New South Wales, with reference to two consignments of non-contraband hardware shipped by them on board the steamship Esrom to two of their customers in Copenhagen.1 It is stated in this letter that upon the seizure of the Esrom by His Majesty’s authorities the goods shipped by Graham and Company were released, and that the Company was informed that the goods were free to proceed to their destination, but that His Majesty’s authorities refused to accept any liability for the cost of forwarding these goods.

In this connection I desire to call your attention to the fact that the Consul at Hull has reported to me that a quantity of cargo of American ownership which was shipped on board the above-mentioned vessel has not been seized by His Majesty’s authorities, but has been discharged from the vessel by their order and warehoused for the account of whom it may concern pending the receipt of further instructions.

Inasmuch as I feel confident that His Majesty’s Government desires in no way to inflict unnecessary hardship upon the American owners of non-contraband cargo which, through no fault of the owners, was shipped on board a vessel which has been seized in Great Britain, I should be grateful if you would be so good as to cause to issue such instructions as are necessary in order that the above-mentioned American goods may be sent forward to their appropriate destinations without cost of the shipment falling upon the innocent shippers.

I have [etc.]

Walter Hines Page
[Enclosure 2]

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Grey ) to the American Ambassador ( Page )

No. 109065/T]

Your Excellency: I duly received your note of the 13th instant respecting certain consignments of goods shipped on the S. S. Esrom which has been seized as prize by the British naval authorities and will be brought before the prize court for adjudication.

In reply I have the honour to inform your excellency that save only in the case of certain contraband articles found on board, His Majesty’s Government have no intention of interfering with the cargo of the Esrom which however it became necessary to discharge in consequence of the seizure of the vessel. With a view of affording all possible facilities to the owners to recover their goods as conveniently and speedily as possible arrangements have been made whereby such goods will be delivered to the claimants on production of the bills of lading, or a satisfactory indemnity against all claims for each consignment. As regards the reshipment of the goods it will be for the parties concerned to make their own arrangements.

With respect to the expenses incurred owing to the detention and the reshipment and carriage of goods to their original destination in such cases, I beg to [Page 661] state that His Majesty’s Government are prepared as a special concession and without admitting any liability to do so, to defray the expenses in connection with the discharge of such cargo incurred up to the time when the owners take delivery of the goods in this country, but not beyond, and this only to the extent to which such expenses exceed any amount which the owners may have been saved in freight, i. e., the difference between the original freight and that from this country to the original destination, if the former has not been paid in advance.

I have [etc.]

Sir Edward Grey
W. Langley
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.