The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham)
Washington, March 26, 1937—7 p.m.
106. Your 153, March 18, 3 p.m., regarding Samoa.
- Please seek an early opportunity to discuss this matter fully
at the Foreign Office with a view of ascertaining the British
position and achieving the purpose of Department’s instruction
of February 8. You may say:
- That your Government had no disposition to give displeasure in the matter of phraseology and will gladly make modifications in the Embassy’s note of February 18 in order to facilitate compliance by His Majesty’s Government with the just requests of the United States, or even withdraw the note if the end in view can by other means be more happily achieved.
- That your Government, while not concerned with forms or language, must stand on the principles set forth in the Embassy’s note of February 18.
- That your Government is gratified that His Majesty’s Government agrees that (as your telegram states it) “the whole question resolves itself to whether or not His Majesty is fulfilling international British obligations in Western Samoa”.
- That your Government is interested primarily in results. The results contemplated are the maintenance of the integrity of the treaty of 1899 and the abolition of the discriminations against American commerce in Western Samoa.
- For your confidential information and guidance, the Department feels at a loss to understand what is behind the intransigency of the British regarding what seems so clear a case of failure to comply with a treaty; whether, for instance, their fundamental position is (a) one of opposition, as a matter of policy, to the restoration of equality of commercial treatment; (b) a proposal to try to sustain the claim of tacit abrogation of the treaty provisions; (c) a disclaimer of any responsibility on the part of London for New Zealand’s acts; or (d) something else of which no hint has been given. It is hoped that your discussions will elicit some light on this matter.
- If feasible, and if it is still adhered to, Department would like to obtain a copy of the opinion which the London law officers of the crown gave to the New Zealand authorities.
Please keep Department adequately informed by telegraph.