The Secretary of State to the Consul General at London (Skinner)
Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your despatch No. 4753, of September 11, 1917,11 containing a résumé of the correspondence [Page 610]between you and the British Procurator General regarding the release by the British Government to American consignees of certain needles of German origin.
With reference to the inquiry in the last paragraph of your despatch, the Department informs you that it adheres to the views expressed in its note of October 21, 1915, to which you refer, and considers that the imposition by the Procurator General and the Prize Court authorities of the conditions referred to in the Procurator General’s letter of September 8, 1917, would constitute an improper and unjustified hardship upon the American consignees of the goods in question and inasmuch as the benefits to be derived from the release of these goods would apparently accrue, in large measure, to the British Government, as well as to the Government of the United States, the Department is loath to believe that such conditions will, under the present circumstances, be insisted upon. Should American citizens find it to their interest to enter into an agreement by the terms of which their rights in the matter would be waived in order to obtain the release of the goods in question, the Department would interpose no objection to such procedure on their part.
I am [etc.]