The Netherland Minister ( De Graeff ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1763

Sir: Referring to your note of the 3rd ultimo I have the honor to inform you that I have been directed by my Government to invite your earnest attention to the situation which with regard to the navigation between the United States and the Netherlands has been created by the National Prohibition Act, construed in accordance with the opinion rendered by the Supreme Court on April 30th last, which opinion holds that it is unlawful for foreign vessels to bring intoxicating liquors within the territorial waters of the United States.

The Royal Government readily admits the jurisdictional power of a nation on foreign ships entering its territorial waters but is of the opinion that international comity and the exigencies of international intercourse require that the exercise of this power virtually is limited to matters which involve or might involve the peace or dignity of the country or the public order or safety of the port at which the vessel has arrived.

If this principle had not been universally accepted the present development of international navigation would not have been possible. Conflicting national laws imposed on ships which frequently have to pass through the territorial waters of other countries would render international voyages almost impossible. Moreover departure from the said principle would seriously affect the right which each country has to freedom of its commerce and navigation.

Whereas it is clear that liquor as cargo or as seastore on board of a foreign vessel within the territorial waters of the United States never can affect the public order and safety of the port nor the peace and dignity of the country, and whereas interference on the part of the United States with such cargo or stores would bring about a serious limitation of our freedom of commerce and navigation, the Royal Government feels itself obliged to request the United States Government to take such steps as might be in its power to harmonize the National Prohibition Act with the above mentioned principle [Page 143] of international law and comity and in the meantime to abstain from enforcing any provisions of this Act which are in conflict with this principle.

Please accept [etc.]

De Graeff