The Secretary of State to the Minister in Poland (Gibson)
6. Your 10, January 24, 6 p.m.
Please call immediately upon Foreign Minister and inform him that summary action of Polish authorities in demanding signature of license agreement, and closing office of United States Lines has made a most unfortunate impression upon this Government, especially in view of the fact that French Lines are operating under modus vivendi although they have not yet accepted new license terms. You may state that this Government confidently expects that the Polish Government will at once remove the guard from the United States Lines’ offices, and will arrange for the immediate resumption of business by the Lines under the former license terms until agreement can be reached on the terms of a new license.
You will point out that the peremptory action of the Polish authorities was taken against an interest that is not only American, but also the property of the United States Government. You may leave a memorandum in the following words relative to the status of the United States Lines:
“The United States Shipping Board is a Government Agency, created by statute of the United States of America, and having general duties relating to our shipping and Merchant Marine. The United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation is a corporation, the creation of which was authorized by statute of the United States, and the capital stock of which is held by the United States Shipping Board. It is charged with the administration of duties relating to American shipping. The United States Lines is not a corporation; it has no capital stock; it is not a partnership; it is not an association. It is only the name under which the Shipping Board, as an agency of the government, operates certain vessels engaged in trans-Atlantic service. All of these vessels are documented in the name of the United States of America. All expense involved in their operation and service is ultimately borne by, and all revenue from their operation, ultimately accrue [s] to the United States of America. In executive administration, they are under the general direction of a designated representative of the Shipping Board.”
If question of Lines’ agreement with North German Lloyd is raised, you may state that the Lloyd is merely the agent of the Lines in certain European countries; but that it is not the agent for Polish [Page 742] business. The Lines use certain of the Lloyd’s facilities in Germany, including docks, et cetera, at Bremen, but the Lloyd has no financial interest in the Lines.
[Paraphrase.] Department spoke today very pointedly to the Polish Minister in the sense of opening paragraph of this telegram. He promised that he would cable his Government.
Closing of visa office is strongly disapproved by the Department, which is embarrassed by that action in dealing with the Newcastleon-Tyne incident in Great Britain3 and in relations with Congress. Visa section of consulate general should be reopened promptly. Department does not approve modification reported by consul general in his January 24, 4 p.m.4 You should promptly telegraph date of reopening of the visa office.
The Department will consider appropriate steps to take if the attitude of the Polish Government toward American interests is and continues to be in general hostile. You should make a general report, by telegraph if necessary, regarding Polish attitude, giving such facts as could be used as a basis for action of the kind suggested in Department’s telegram 46 of May 25, 1922, 5 p.m.4 if the facts justified it. [End paraphrase.]