File No. 711.5121/1

The French Ambassador to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: With a note dated June 18, 1915,7 his excellency the Ambassador of the United States at Paris transmitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic the text of a law enacted by the Congress of the United States on March 4, 1915, and usually called the “Seamen’s Act”.

In compliance with the instructions he had received from the Federal Government, Mr. Sharp supplemented his communication concerning the origin of the said legislation and the motives that actuated Congress to pass that law; he concluded with a notice to the French Government, as required by the provisions of the Act, of the [Page 40] intention of the Government of the United States to terminate Article 6 of the Treaty of June 24, 1822, and Articles 8 and 9 of the Treaty of February 23, 1853, with France, by operation of the clauses of those treaties which require six and twelve months’ notice respectively. On that occasion the Ambassador of the United States explained that although the termination of part of a treaty, as required by the Act of March 4, 1915, could not be effected according to international usage, the President of the United States in the exercise of the power he deems to have been conferred upon him to put upon the law the construction contemplated by Congress, nevertheless directed him to propose an arrangement between the two Governments which would make it possible to attain the end contemplated by the Act through the abrogation or the mere omission of the articles in question. He also proposed the date of July 1, 1916, as that on which the abrogation would become operative, that is to say, a twelvemonth’s previous notice, so as to put the law into effect in France at the same time as in the other countries concerned.

In reply to that communication I have the honor to inform your excellency that the Government of the French Republic gladly agrees to acquiesce in a partial abrogation of our conventions with the Government of the United States which would bear only on those articles whose enforcement is inconsistent with the Act of March 4, 1915; the French Government is likewise disposed, with respect to the form of such abrogation, to exchange notes as proposed by the Government of the United States, which is the most convenient modus operandi. In order, however, to forestall any future erroneous interpretation, the French Government would like to be given previous knowledge of the draft of the note which would be addressed to it on the subject. * * *

Accept [etc.]

  1. In compliance with the instruction of May 29, 1915, For. Rel. 1915, p. 3.