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

No. 2251

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s Instruction No. 840, of March 28, 1923, in which it is requested that a report be made concerning the steps taken by this Embassy in regard to the Department’s Instructions No. 643, of September 12th, 1922, and No. 781, of January 18th, 1923, on the subject of Wrangell Island.

In compliance with the first named instruction, which was received in London on September 25th last, a member of this Embassy called upon Mr. Sperling, in charge of the American Division of the Foreign Office, on September 27, 1922, and left with him a memorandum based on this instruction. No reply having been received from the Foreign Office, on January 30th, the day following the receipt of the Department’s second instruction in the matter, the Foreign Office was again approached and the memorandum which had previously been left with Mr. Sperling was recalled to his attention. He accordingly replied by letter, under date of February 3, 1923, and stated that he had ascertained that on November 25th, 1916, Count Benckendorff, at that time Russian Ambassador, communicated to His Majesty’s Government a note, dated October 23rd, 1916, notifying the incorporation in the Russian Empire of certain islands, including Wrangell Island, alleged to have been discovered by an expedition under Captain Wilkitzki in 1913–1914. Inasmuch as Mr. Sperling had made no reference to the views of the British Government on the subject, he was requested to do so in a letter dated February 6, 1923. On February 15th he replied that the inquiry which had been raised necessitated reference to the Colonial Office and to Canada and that some little time would, he feared, necessarily elapse before the Foreign Office would be in a position to make a reply.

With further reference to the subject, I beg to enclose herewith a clipping, in triplicate, from The Times of April 9th last,13 in which it is stated that Mr. Stefansson, the Arctic Explorer, is being sent to London by the Canadian Government to consult with the British authorities concerning Canada’s claim to Wrangell Island and the value of the Island from a strategic and aerial point of view. The despatch is dated April 8th, and apparently cabled by The Times own correspondent at Ottawa.

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In view of the above, renewed inquiries are now being made of the Foreign Office, the result of which the Embassy will not fail promptly to communicate to the Department.

I have [etc.]

For the Ambassador:
Post Wheeler

Counselor of Embassy
  1. Not printed.