The Consul General at London (Skinner) to the Secretary of State
[Received 12:25 p.m.]
Departments 21st regarding title to American goods detained by British authorities. Procurator General states that goods or proceeds [Page 620]will be released on presentation of full set of bills of lading or blanket release will be made immediately if I will sign bond conditioned for protection of British Government against presentation in future by Scandinavian or Dutch consignees of possible outstanding bills of lading. As bills of lading are practically [all] lost or scattered I suggest latter course in which American Government could protect itself by requiring similar bond from individual American claimants as precedent condition to return of goods or their proceeds. Department might in addition require collateral security in the shape of deposit in Washington of Liberty bonds to value of goods. Foregoing does not apply to the goods already condemned or goods in which it appears there is no American interest or goods obviously consigned to Germany as to which British evidence is very strong and marked A on list transmitted in accordance with Embassy’s telegram number 1418 dated August 27th.19 Foregoing release to be in full settlement of all claims by American owner. To save tonnage and cost of transportation, I suggest that all goods released be first offered to purchasing agents of American Army and Navy in England before return to United States.
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