300.115/14331

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

No. 9821

Sir: With reference to my telegram No. 1418 of August 27, 5 p.m., in regard to the desire of the United States Government to obtain [Page 618]the release of various American goods which have been seized by the British Authorities, I now have the honor to transmit herewith to the Department, a copy of the Note, dated August 24, 1918, which I have received from the Foreign Office, together with a copy of the revised list of goods referred to therein.17

I have [etc.]

For the Ambassador:
Irwin Laughlin
[Enclosure]

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Balfour) to the American Ambassador (Page)

No. 138205/345/J

Your Excellency: In your Note of January 9th last (No. 53) you enquired whether His Majesty’s Government would be willing to enter into an arrangement for the release from the Prize Court of goods of American ownership, seized by the British Authorities before the entry of the United States into the war, and still awaiting adjudication, a material portion of which might, in this event, be utilized to advantage in furtherance of the common cause in which the two Governments are united. At the same time, the United States Consul-General submitted to His Majesty’s Procurator-General a list of goods of enemy origin, similarly detained, which were understood to have been purchased and paid for by American citizens.

2.
His Majesty’s Government, I need hardly say, are in full accord with the views expressed in Your Excellency’s Note as to the desirability at the present time of utilizing these materials to the best advantage. As it was uncertain, however, how far the goods mentioned in the list therein enclosed still remained unsold, I referred the list in the first instance to the Procurator-General, who, in the accompanying revised version,18 has indicated their present position. It will be seen that in a few instances the goods have already been dealt with by the Prize Court and have either been condemned or released, and that in a few others the documents produced to the Procurator-General show that no American interests are involved.
3.
I have now the honour to inform Your Excellency that, in deference to the wishes of the United States Government, and having regard to the assurances contained in your Note of the 25th ultimo (No. 1004) His Majesty’s Government are prepared to entertain the release to the American claimants of the goods in question, for sale in this country or re-export under license,—with the exception of certain of the items marked A in the enclosed list, and necessarily [Page 619]in the few instances mentioned above—in all cases where they can be clearly shown not to be the property of enemy subjects, and provided the releases are accepted in full discharge of any claims that might be made in the Prize Court. For this purpose the Procurator-General will be ready to deal with individual claims, and in suitable cases to grant release to claimants who are prepared to accept the goods, or their proceeds if already sold, in final settlement of all claims. As the most expeditious way of dealing with the matter I would suggest that Mr. Skinner, or such other person as Your Excellency may appoint, should enter into direct communication with the Procurator General.
4.
As regards the goods marked A in the list, these relate to contraband shipments seized by His Majesty’s forces, where the evident intention to assist the enemy is strongly pronounced, and His Majesty’s Government feel assured that the United States Government would not expect them to discontinue the Prize Court proceedings in favour of persons whose attempt to assist what is now the common enemy has thus been frustrated. Should, however, any of these particular goods be required by the United States Government for military purposes, and be still available, arrangements could no doubt be made, in communication with the Procurator-General, to place them at their disposal.

I have [etc.]

(for the Secretary of State)
Eyre A. Crowe
  1. List of goods not printed.
  2. Not printed.