The Secretary of State to the Consul at Ceiba (Waller)
Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 51 of April 22, 1925,23 explaining your actions during the crisis at La Ceiba on April 19 and 20, 1925. On your statement the Department approves and commends your action. The Department fully realizes that you were compelled to act upon your own initiative in communicating with the commander of the Denver regarding the expected attack upon La Ceiba and has no doubt that you acted in accordance with your best judgment.
While the Department desires that the American consular officers on the north coast of Honduras should not hesitate to act upon their [Page 331] own initiative in taking measures essential for the the protection of American lives when they are convinced that the emergency is so grave and the danger so imminent as to leave no time for consulting the Department, when an emergency arises the Department desires that you should bear in mind its wish that Marines should not be landed at any time without prior consultation with the Department unless the necessity for such action is absolutely clear. It feels that the presence of an American warship will usually of itself be sufficient to procure respect for American life and property and that further measures should not ordinarily be taken unless such measures are clearly imperative. While the naval commander, in accordance with the standing instructions of the Navy Department must act upon his own responsibility in landing forces or taking other military measures, he will act in consultation with the diplomatic representative or consul and presumably will ordinarily act in accordance with the latter’s advice. Accordingly, the Department desires that its representatives should express definitely to the naval commanders and to the Department their opinion regarding the action necessary in a given emergency, and it does not desire that they should transmit requests for help from the local authorities or from resident Americans without transmitting at the same time their own recommendations.
You are instructed to bear the foregoing carefully in mind for your guidance in future contingencies.
I am [etc.]
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