File No. 763.72111/4599

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Agriculture ( Houston)

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of February 14 and March 16, 1917,2 relative to withholding the publication of information concerning the arrival and departure of vessels by the stations attached to the Weather Bureau of your Department, and I note with satisfaction that you have issued instructions to that end. In your letter of March 16, you inquire whether in view of the fact that certain newspapers, from which you enclose clippings, are publishing reports of the movements of shipping, some modifications of the instructions recently issued by the Weather Bureau may not now be made.

[Page 569]

In reply I beg to advise you that since the date of your last communication, the Navy Department has made the following requests of the leading newspapers of this country:

Departures of merchant vessels and the names of the ports of their arrival should not be printed.
Movements of Navy vessels or their arrival at, or departure from, any port should not be printed.

Although this Government has no power, in the absence of appropriate law, to prevent publication of the movements of merchant and naval vessels in the newspapers, it is believed that due heed will be taken by them of this request. If such proves to be the case your cooperation with this Department in issuing the instructions above mentioned will undoubtedly go far in preventing the dissemination of news which might prejudice the safety of shipping.

I have [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Latter not printed.