File No. 811.2222/9206a

The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador on Special Mission ( Reading)

My Dear Mr. Ambassador: Referring to our conversations in respect to amendments to the military service conventions with Great Britain and Canada, I wish to make the following proposals to your Government.

In the first place I should call attention to the feeling among members of the Senate that the British convention should contain the ages for military service for Americans in Great Britain, namely 21 to 30 years, both inclusive, as well as the ages for military service of British subjects in the United States. It is true that the omission of the American ages is explained by an exchange of notes, but the Senators feel, I imagine, that it is quite as difficult to modify the military service act of the United States to comply with the convention as it would be for Great Britain to modify her laws so as to allow the American ages to be stated specifically in the treaty. I am, therefore, under the necessity of proposing that the convention be amended so as to contain the American age limits, if this can be done without unnecessarily delaying the conclusion of the convention.

In the second place, in view of the fact that the Irish conscription law will not become effective until an order in council has been issued, which may in a measure depend upon the legislation in Parliament respecting home rule, I would suggest that a further proviso be added to article 1 of the British convention to read as follows:

And provided further that no British subject in the United States and no citizen of the United States in Great Britain who, before proceeding to the United States or Great Britain respectively, was ordinarily resident in a place where the law does not impose compulsory military service shall, by virtue of this convention, be liable to military service under the laws and regulations of the United States or Great Britain, respectively.

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If this suggestion is adopted it would, I presume, necessitate a slight change in the phraseology of article 4 of the British convention and article 1 of the Canadian convention.

In the third place, I have to suggest that article 5 of the British convention and article 4 of the Canadian convention be omitted. I am advised that the tentative rule of nationality laid down in these articles could be as well included in the regulations of the War Department for the government of the local boards, and that the objects of these provisions would thereby be fully attained in the United States. I trust it may be possible for the corresponding regulations of Great Britain to contain the same rule.

In the fourth place, at the suggestion of certain members of the Senate I would propose that the final article of both the British and Canadian conventions should be modified so as to read as follows:

The present convention shall be ratified by the President of the United States of America by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States and by His Britannic Majesty, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington or at London as soon as possible. It shall come into operation on the date on which the ratifications are exchanged, and shall remain in force until the expiration of 60 days after either of the contracting parties shall have given notice of termination to the other; whereupon any subject or citizen of either country incorporated into the military service of the other under this convention shall be as soon as possible discharged therefrom.

In view of the great agitation in the United States for making aliens of cobelligerent nationalities subject to military service either here or at home, and considering the growing impatience of proponents of such measures at the delay in concluding military service conventions, I would urge that our Governments reach, at the earliest moment an agreement upon the points I have set forth herein.

Will you not convey to your Government, therefore, my earnest desire that these conventions be brought to a prompt conclusion.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing