File No. 811.203/22
The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain ( Laughlin)
264. Your 9748, April 27, 1 p.m., respecting jurisdiction over American military forces in England. You may communicate regarding this matter with British Government in sense of following:
The note of the British Foreign Office dated April 26 last, with its additional proposals, is regarded by this Government as containing conditions which would create a very dangerous situation as regards the forces of this Government in British territory. The competent authorities of this Government are of the opinion that the result of entering into an agreement such as that proposed in the above-mentioned note would be a partial surrender by the American forces to the British Government of jurisdiction over the military forces of the United States located within British territorial limits for offenses committed on American warships or in American camps and would involve the lack of proper recognition of the character [Page 749] and competency of the existing American military tribunals. In view of the foregoing and since the British Government has already entered into an agreement upon this subject with the Government of France dated December 15, 1915, which agreement is substantially the same as was entered into between the Governments of the United States and France, it is respectfully suggested that the British Government may desire to submit a proposal embodying the same terms as those contained in the French–American note dated January 14, 1918,1 which would receive the favorable consideration of the United States Government.