File No. 763.72/3267

The Minister in Sweden ( Morris ) to the Secretary of State


171. Reference my 170, 7th.1 Following is translation of note just handed me by Minister Foreign Affairs:

With reference to your letter of February 5, by which you were good enough to communicate to the Royal Government the opinion of President Wilson that it would tend towards peace to adopt, with regard to the new blockade proclaimed by the Germans, action similar to that of the Government of the United States of America, I have the honor to bring to your knowledge the following:

The policy followed by the Royal Government during the war has been one of strictly impartial neutrality. The Royal Government has done everything in its power faithfully to fulfil all the duties which this policy imposes upon it and at the same time it has rendered effective as far as possible the rights derived therefrom.

With a view to obtaining a practical result in upholding the principles of international law, the Royal Government has several times addressed itself to neutral powers in order to effect cooperation with the aforesaid object, in view. Above all the Royal Government has not failed to submit to the Government of the United States of America a proposal to this effect.

The Royal Government has observed with regret that the interests of the United States have not permitted her to accept these proposals. The steps thus taken by the Royal Government have led to a system of common measures between Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, with regard to the two belligerent groups.

In the policy followed by the Royal Government in order to maintain its neutrality and to safeguard the legitimate rights of the country, the Royal Government, alive to the indescribable sufferings which from day to day oppress more cruelly all humanity, is ready to seize every opportunity which offers itself in order to contribute to the realization of a near and durable peace.

Consequently it hastened to associate itself with the noble step taken by the President with a view to examining the possibility of instituting negotiations between the belligerents.

The proposal which forms the object of the present correspondence has as an aim the shortening of the evils of the war, but the Government of the United States has chosen as a means of arriving at this end a method absolutely contrary to the principles which have guided the policy of the Royal Government up to the present hour.

The Royal Government supported by public opinion, confirmed by the unanimous resolutions of the country’s representatives, intends to follow in the future, as in the past, the policy of neutrality and impartiality towards both belligerent groups and it is not disposed to abandon this policy unless the vital interests of the country and the dignity of the nation oblige her to do so.

  1. Not printed.