File No. 711.6521/118

The Italian Ambassador to the Secretary of State

No. 1662

Mr. Secretary of State: By a note dated June 29, 1916, after stating that by reason of the communications made by the Government of the United States to the Italian Government with respect to the Consular Convention of May 8, 1878, the King’s Government had taken note that from the first of July 1916, Articles 13 and 11 of that Convention and instead of the last named article the additional Convention of February 24, 1881, were abrogated, I gave your excellency notice that the Royal Government through me denounced the whole Consular Convention of 1878 from the first of July 1916. By note of August 2, 1916, your excellency was pleased to make formal acknowledgment of the denunciation.

The purpose that moved the King’s Government to denounce the Convention of May 8, 1878, was, as I had the honor orally to remark to your excellency, to substitute for the Convention another covenant which would better meet, to our mutual interest, the changed exigencies of consular tutelage.

Since the existing consular convention was negotiated the relations between Italy and the United States which call for the intervention of the respective consular offices have grown so much in numbers and become so complex that a revision and modernization of the rules that govern the powers and duties of the said officers appeared to be of manifest mutual advantage. The conditions of fife, circumstances, business relations and the whole complex atmosphere in which consular duties are now performed and will be in the near future are plainly different from those which prevailed at the time when the existing convention was concluded and it does seem appropriate that the rules which govern those duties should also be modified accordingly. The Government of the United States surely shared that view and evidently proceeded to put it into operation, if [Page 24] only in part, when it had to ask the King’s Government to consider as abrogated two of the articles of the said convention because of their being antiquated and no longer meeting modern exigencies.

The present anomalous political juncture, which demands every attention, has however made it impossible to prepare, since the convention was denounced, a new instrument which could be substituted for that now in force with any advantage. And even though the studies set on foot on the subject by the King’s Government had taken the concrete form of convention articles, there would not be enough time left before the first of July to discuss the said articles with the Government of the United States and to sign and ratify the instrument. Nor can it be foreseen when all the various stages in the conclusion of a new treaty can be thoroughly covered.

Under the circumstances the denunciation if allowed to stand unaltered before a new and more suitable convention comes into existence, would purely and simply mean the abrogation of the existing convention. And until a new convention could be put in readiness, Italy and the United States would be left without a covenant empowering and guiding their respective Consuls in the discharge of their official duties. And this for obvious reasons cannot suit either party. Besides the objectionable consequences it might bring in practice, the want of a covenant of the kind herein considered would not be consistent with the relations of staunch friendship happily existing between the two countries. A modification of the denunciation as made, if by so doing the exigencies of the moment and the object for which it was originally made are met, thus appears to be entirely to our mutual advantage. And since the objectionable features of the denunciation made on June 29, 1916, would be found in the fact that it is to take effect on a set date which is that of June 30 next, then, the solution that offers itself naturally is to do away with any fixed term and reduce it to a simple declaration of the intention of the Royal Government to denounce the existing convention at a convenient time and place.

And inasmuch as the King’s Government took the initiative of serving the notice of June 29, 1916, so it now behooves the same Government of the King to ask the Government of the United States that it be withdrawn so that the existing convention may remain in force until further notice.

The reasons and motives of this step are such as to lead me to hope that the Government of the United States will readily accede to it in the general interest of the two countries and in the special interest of the functions of their respective Consuls. And being confident thereof, I take pleasure in begging your excellency kindly to acknowledge that the King’s Government has formally withdrawn, with regard to the Government of the United States, as I hereby have the honor to do, the denunciation notified on the 29th of June 1916 and that consequently, and until further notice, the Consular Convention concluded between the two Governments on the 8th of May 1878, barring its Articles 13 and 11 and barring, for the last named article, the additional Convention of February 24, 1881, remains in full force and effect.

For which I extend my thanks to your excellency and beg [etc.]

Macchi di Cellere