The Chargé in Portugal (Magruder) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 3027

Sir: With reference to the Legation’s despatch No. 2996 of February 24, 1930,16 and to previous correspondence on the subject of flag discrimination, I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy of a draft note which Sir Francis Lindley, British Ambassador to Portugal, has sent to the representatives of the other interested Powers16 in the hope that he may receive the support of analogous representation on their part.

Sir Francis is aware of the tenor of the Legation’s note No. 1065 of January 10, 1930,17 the text of which accompanied the Legation’s despatch No. 2951 of January 14, 1930,16 and, in consequence, does not expect that we shall deem it politic to send in another note just [Page 783] yet. However, he has asked for moral support and has been assured that he may rely with confidence thereon as far as we are concerned.

Sir Francis is much struck with the appropriateness and force of the following passages taken from the published abstract of a statement made by Secretary of State Hughes before the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate while the commercial treaty with Germany was up for consideration:18

“If the United States is to have its proper place as a maritime power and its vessels are to enter the ports of the world, it must secure freedom from discrimination in such ports by the respective sovereigns in relation to their own vessels. We shall need to be free from discriminatory exactions against our commerce in the form of tonnage dues, port charges, cargo duties, etc. How is the United States to obtain such freedom if it refused a reciprocal agreement to that end?”

“There is no gain in asserting a policy of discrimination in favor of our vessels if we do not actually pursue it. But if it is pursued, there will eventually be retaliation. What sort of benefit to our commerce and shipping is to be expected with knives out all over the world and a policy of discrimination for its own sake which is not to be terminated by agreement for equal treatment, such an agreement having been refused in advance?”

“While it is believed that the policy of discriminatory exactions would not benefit our shipping but rather tend to injure it, there can be no doubt of the injury that such a policy would inflict upon American trade.”

“Retaliation need not take the same form as the discrimination.”

“Discriminatory policy, rejecting agreements for reciprocal treatment, forfeits the good will which is not a negligible factor in promoting foreign trade.”

“The policy of the open door, of equal opportunity, of promoting agreements which will put an end to the discriminations which breed ill will and strife is believed to be the policy which the United States should adopt.”

I venture respectfully to suggest that the Department give consideration to the advisability of authorizing the Legation to follow up its note No. 1065 of January 10, 1930, by a further note on the subject of flag discrimination, quoting the foregoing passages in clarification of the policy of the United States and intimating, as is done in the British draft note, that the comprehensive system of discrimination complained of may, if persisted in, necessitate giving consideration to the best means of meeting the situation.

I have [etc.]

Alexander R. Magruder
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 778.
  4. Not printed.
  5. This abstract is condensed and modified from the text printed in Treaty of Commerce and Consular Rights with Germany: Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 68th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1924), pp. 304 ff.

    For text of the treaty with Germany signed December 8, 1923, see Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. ii, p. 29.