The Italian Embassy to the Department of State


The Italian Ambassador has been directed by his Government to draw the attention of the Government of the United States to the serious inconveniences that might arise in connection with the enforcement of the decision rendered on April 30th by the Supreme Court on the question of ship liquor.

The Italian Government emphasizes the general principle of international Law and Comity according to which the exercise of the jurisdictional power by a Nation in its territorial waters finds an adequate limitation in the right of other Countries to the freedom of commerce and navigation.

In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government such a limit is clearly indicated by the existing practice among Nations, according to which a country does not exercise its jurisdictional power on foreign ships entering its territorial waters unless in matters involving questions of peace or dignity for the country or disturbing public order.

On the strength of this point of principle and practice, the Italian Government fails to see how the fact of an Italian ship carrying on board a certain amount of alcoholic beverages could affect the peace or dignity or the public order of the United States, while an interference on the part of the United States authorities would result for Italy in a detrimental limitation of her freedom of commerce and navigation.

Moreover, the Italian Government desires to point out the conflicting situation which would be created by such an interference on Italian vessels, on account of the existing Italian laws and regulations providing for the supply of wine to crew and passengers.

By provisions adopted and enforced since October 1920 the Italian Authorities have already taken some action to meet the legitimate desire of the United States Government to prevent elusion of the prohibition law by the action of foreign vessels at anchor in American ports, and His Majesty’s Government is still willing to give further consideration to the matter, in cooperation with the American Government.