811.0141 Phoenix Group/1

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy (Swanson)

Sir: The receipt is acknowledged of a letter dated February 20, 1937, from the Acting Secretary of the Navy, in which the Department is requested that diplomatic notification be made regarding a visit of the U. S. S. Avocet to Enderbury or Canton Islands in the Phoenix Group for the purpose of transporting an observation party of scientists.

Inasmuch as this Government has not recognized the sovereignty of any other country over the islands in the group in question the Department is not in a position to give notification to any foreign power of a contemplated visit thereto by a United States naval vessel for any purpose.

Moore’s International Law Digest, Volume I, pages 567 and 568, gives a list of Guano Islands appertaining to the United States issued by the Treasury Department in the middle of the nineteenth century. [Page 126]It will be noted that most of the islands in the Phoenix Group including Enderbury and Mary’s (Canton), appear in the list, and since official records disclose that a certificate was issued for Enderbury Island by the Department on December 31, 1859, and that the island was occupied and exploited under that authority, this Department perceives no reason why the U. S. S. Avocet should not visit Enderbury Island.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore

Assistant Secretary