711.00111 Armament Control/756

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Dunn)

The British Ambassador called this morning and brought up the question of the language of the resolution now pending in Congress on neutrality with particular reference to section 5 of the neutrality resolution of last August.20 That section 5 provides for authorization by the President to prohibit the entrance of the submarines of a foreign nation to enter American ports during any war in which the United States is neutral. The Ambassador pointed out that the proposed Administration measure, which was offered by Senator Pittman21 and by Mr. McReynolds22 in the Senate and House, respectively, as permanent legislation to take the place of the neutrality resolution of last August, changed the reference to submarines in this connection [Page 190] to submarines of belligerent nations. He asked, therefore, whether the extension of the former neutrality resolution as passed in the House yesterday made any provision for amending the language of the August resolution in line with the change of wording provided for in the Administration measures which have now been temporarily laid aside. Upon looking into the matter, I found that the extending measure, as passed in the House yesterday, did not change the wording of article 5, which, therefore, is continued as applying to all foreign submarines.

I then accompanied the Ambassador to Judge Moore’s23 office, as the Ambassador desired to know whether there was any possibility of having this language amended by the Senate before the final passage of the extending resolution. The Ambassador explained that the adoption of a policy by this Government prohibiting the entrance of submarines of a power not at war might under certain circumstances be extremely inconvenient to a large naval power and the fact that such a policy was adopted by an important country like the United States might be a reason why it would be adopted by smaller countries, thus causing unnecessary difficulties for large navies.

Judge Moore explained that the application of this prohibition was discretionary with the President and he pointed out, furthermore, that as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House had mentioned in his report24 on the bill passed yesterday that bill would put into effect certain regulations with regard to the entrance of submarines of belligerent nations into American ports and that he had made a similar reference in a speech before the House yesterday explaining the purport of the bill, which speech is recorded in the Congressional Record,25 the Government could at any time point to those two documentary evidences of the intent of the Committee that this prohibition should be applied only to submarines of belligerent nations and that, furthermore, it was clearly evident that any action taken by the President based upon the neutrality resolution would apply only to belligerent nations.

The Ambassador appeared to be perfectly satisfied with regard to the intent and ultimate carrying out of this provision, but he said that he would have been much happier to have seen a correction in the language made which would have restricted by law its application to belligerent nations.

James Clement Dunn
  1. August 31, 1935; 49 Stat. 1081.
  2. S. 3474, introduced January 3, 1936, Congressional Record, vol. 80, pt. 1, p. 5.
  3. H. J. Res. 422, introduced January 3, 1936, ibid., p. 34.
  4. R. Walton Moore, Assistant Secretary of State.
  5. H. Rept. 2001 to accompany H. J. Res. 491.
  6. Congressional Record, vol. 80, pt. 2, p. 2240.