File No. 763.72/10034

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Honduras ( Curtis)


Your May 16, 10 a.m. It is clear that a belligerent may exercise greater powers in control of its resources and persons within its borders, and for a different purpose, than can a neutral. The belligerents in the present war are exercising their sovereign rights in the interest of preventing the products of their soil or industry from being used by or for the enemy; of preventing persons within their jurisdiction from trading with the enemy, directly or indirectly; of preventing the use of their means of communication by or for the enemy, and of limiting their financial resources for their own necessities and the needs of their allies. These measures are so obviously founded upon the exercise of sovereign rights that it is unnecessary to cite authorities therefor. In a state of neutrality, none of these measures might be put into effect—certainly not unless both groups of belligerents are treated equally—an equality which it would be quite impossible to maintain to the satisfaction of the belligerents.

In the exercise of the rights above-mentioned, the United States controls by license all exports and imports; all trade and communication between the United States and foreign countries; all financial relations with foreign countries, including the transfer of gold, bullion, and evidences of indebtedness (see “Intercourse with the Enemy”: Hall, Int. Law, 7th ed., pp. 403–404; Moore’s Digest, vol. 7, pp. 192–195 and 237–257; Oppenheim, Int. Law, 2d ed., pp. 135–138; Phillipson, Int. Law and the Great War, pp. 93–106); the activities of enemy aliens and other suspicious aliens within its borders (see Hall, pp. 408w, 410; Phillipson, pp. 81–92; Moore’s Digest, vol. 4, p. 138, and vol. 7, pp. 191, 192); the entry and departure of all persons, including citizens of the United States (see The American Passport, by G. Hunt, p. 50); the censorship of all incoming and outgoing communications by mail, wire, or otherwise (see in part 7 Moore, 256); property in the United States owned by enemy aliens (see 7 Moore, p. 280 et seq.), etc. Some of these references are applicable only in part.

You may use this information in your further conversations with respect to the advantages of Honduras entering the war.