The Secretary of State to the Minister in Siam (Brodie)

No. 53

Sir: The Department has received and carefully considered your despatch of March 10, 1922, in which you enclose a copy of your note to the Minister for Foreign Affairs dated February 27, 1922, and a copy of the Minister’s reply thereto dated March 6, 1922,16 in regard to the right of American citizens to own land in Siam under Article I of the Treaty with that country.

The Department desires to inform you that Article I of the Treaty with Siam was drafted with extreme care in order to define accurately the rights which this Government was prepared to accord to Siamese resident in the United States. The Department is aware that the [Page 907] provisions of the Treaty are reciprocal and that the Siamese Government is bound by international obligations. You will, therefore, avoid raising any questions under the treaty, unless and until concrete instances of injury to, or discrimination against, American rights or interests are brought to your attention, or until otherwise instructed by the Department.

It has been the consistent policy of the Government of the United States not to conclude treaties relating to land ownership by aliens. The Treaty with Siam contains no stipulations regarding the ownership of land. Of course the fact that the right to own land has not been the subject of treaty negotiations between the two countries does not stand in the way of the acquisition of land by the nationals of either country in the other if domestic legislation permits it. The general nature of the laws in the United States with respect to the ownership of land by aliens was indicated to you in the Department’s instruction of January 11, last.

The issue raised by Doctor McFarland, reported in your despatch No. 41, of March 13, 1922,17 does not appear to be one which may properly be taken up under the terms of the present treaty with Siam. If it is believed that the action of the Siamese Government amounts to a substantial injustice or to the denial of a right which could fairly be claimed, you should report the facts to the Department and await instructions.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Enclosures not printed.
  2. Not printed.