File No. 711.5521/3

Consul Osborne to the Secretary of State

No. 402

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed a copy and translation of a letter to me from Baron Beyens, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs at Sainte Adresse, dated June 29, 1916, relative to the act to promote the welfare of American seamen in the merchant marine of the United States approved March 4, 1915, and its effect on the conventional stipulations between the United States and Belgium and the former Independent State of the Kongo.

This communication is in reply to Minister Whitlock’s letter to the late Mr. Davignon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, dated July 6, 1915.

John Ball Osborne

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Consul Osborne

Sir: As you are aware, his excellency Mr. Brand Whitlock was so good as to communicate to Mr. Davignon the text of a law relative to the merchant marine, approved by the American Congress March 4, 1915.

[Page 34]

That law entrusts the President of the United States with the duty of terminating the provisions of the international treaties to which the United States are a party, which are not in agreement with the new régime which it establishes.

His excellency pointed out, as coming within this purview, Articles 11 and 12 of the Consular Convention concluded March 9, 1880, between Belgium and the United States, as well as Article 5 of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation signed January 24, 1891, between the Independent State of the Kongo and the United States. Nevertheless, rather than denounce the two conventions, the American Government suggests to the Government of the King to terminate, by agreement, these three articles and leave in force the other provisions of the treaties. Furthermore, it proposes to put on record the agreement reached on this point by an exchange of notes; these should provide that the articles referred to shall cease to have effect July 1, 1916.

The Government of the King, appreciating the reasons which have caused the promulgation of the American law of March 4, 1915, and which lead the American Government to propose the abrogation of the conventional stipulations in question, accepts this proposal, as regards Articles 11 and 12 of the Consular Convention of March 9, 1880.

The agreement on this point will take effect dating from July 1, 1916. It will be considered as established by the present letter and by the communication to which it is in response and which Mr. Brand Whitlock addressed to Mr. Davignon on July 6 last.

The Belgium Government is likewise in agreement with the American Government for the continued application after July 1, 1916, under the former conditions, of the non-abrogated articles of the Consular Convention.

As regards the Treaty of January 24, 1891, with the former Independent State of the Kongo, the Government of the King desiring, on its side, to make modifications in several of its provisions, considers that the best solution consists in terminating the convention itself.

I should be obliged to you, Mr. Consul, if you would be good enough to inform the American Government and request it to make formal acknowledgment of this denunciation to the Belgian Government.

The latter, on the other hand, being desirous of giving satisfaction to the request of the Government of the United States, consents that Article 5 of the Treaty of January 24, 1891, shall cease to have effect on and after July 1, 1916, the other articles remaining provisionally in force.

Receive [etc.]