862.73/13a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Brazil (Morgan)

Please see the President personally with regard to the captured German submarine cable between Brazil and Liberia.83 Article 244 and Annex VII thereto of the German Peace Treaty provides that Germany shall renounce in favor of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all rights to the submarine cables including that between Monrovia and Pernambuco. I understand that this cable was cut during the war and has since been moved and replaced and repaired by the French but that no license for its operation has as yet been granted by either Brazil or Liberia.

This Government expects to call a World Conference on International Communications during the coming year in pursuance of an agreement reached in Paris during the Peace Conference. Among other matters to be settled by that conference will be the disposition of the captured German cables, which is to be treated as a precedent for the general rights of belligerent nations in submarine cables in time of war. The purpose of this Government in calling the conference is to establish a régime for all kinds of international communications which will be in the interest of all nations looking toward the prevention of monopoly by any one nation or group of nations. In view of this purpose and of the specific provision of the Peace Treaty, whereby the five principal powers are made trustees of the cable in question, it is considered most important that the Brazilian Government should not grant any license for the operation of the cable to Liberia or take any other action with regard to it which will in any way prejudice the determination of the Conference.

Please present this matter to the President as fully as you think wise and report by wire.

  1. For previous correspondence on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, pp. 504 ff.