File No. 841.731/215

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


1430. Your 888 [889?], January 5, presented to Sir Edward Grey. The words in this message (see my 1400, January 4) which [appear in] cipher are the names of brands of soap which the sender of the telegram manufactures. By asking that these be explained in plain language in the telegram I had to abandon a strong argument I was using with the British Government about stopped cables. They say that technical words habitually used in the cotton trade are suspicious. I have maintained that they are legitimate, innocent trade words and that it is the censor’s business to employ men who understand them. Since your contention seems to be the same as that of the British censors, I can no longer continue to urge this point. It seems to me that each Government, therefore, must now insist that its own people must cease to use technical trade words and every telegram [must be] in language that everybody can understand. Till this is done I fear I can effect little change, for nearly all the telegrams stopped by the British censor contain trade words which are unintelligible to those who do not know the trade vocabulary, just as this soap telegram is unintelligible to our censor.

American Ambassador