793.94111/98a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt, at Sea

3. Draft of undated proclamation under Section 1 of the Neutrality Act,65 together with warrant to affix the Great Seal and a copy of the Act, will be sent by plane tonight. If you will sign the proclamation and the warrant and return them, I shall hold them with a view to issuing the proclamation without delay should such a step appear to become necessary and should you authorize it.

In view of the fact that the proclamation is not to be issued immediately upon its signature and in order to avoid the risk of [Page 741] embarrassment resulting from possible premature publicity, I have not complied in this case with Executive Order No. 7298 prescribing that drafts of proclamations be submitted to the Director of the Budget, the Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Register before they are submitted to you for consideration.

The list of arms in the proclamation is identical with that in your proclamation in regard to Spain.66 Under the terms of the Act, that list could not be essentially modified. You will note that the Act prohibits the placing of an embargo on any articles other than those of the character listed in this proclamation.

You will also note that the issuance of a proclamation under Section 1 of the Act places automatically in operation the provisions of Sections 3, 6, 9 and 10. I have not considered it advisable to recommend that you take action at this time under the proviso in Section 3 (a).

I assume that your suggestion in regard to a list of other articles refers to a possible proclamation under Section 2. That Section, the application of which is dependent upon your finding that action under it is necessary to preserve the peace and security of the United States, contains the so-called cash and carry provisions but does not authorize an embargo. I do not recommend action under Section 2 at this time. We are making a careful study of the probable effects of the carrying out of the provisions of that section upon the belligerents and particularly upon our own domestic economy and are drawing up a tentative list of articles in order to be prepared should you eventually consider action under that section to be advisable.

As to the question raised in the first clause of your final paragraph, we feel that the position at Tientsin and Peiping after the declaration of war would still be legally tenable under the Boxer Procotol.67 The position in Shanghai would be dubious legally. In any case, practical and equitable considerations may arise which might outweigh the legal. The position of our national vessels in Chinese waters would depend largely on the type of declaration and subsequent blockade proclamations. We are giving careful study to these and other contingencies.

There is nothing new on the British angle.

We have received nothing since Grew’s telegram reported to you yesterday which would throw light on the possibility of a declaration of war nor is there any further indication that a declaration is imminent. Although we would be somewhat surprised should there be an immediate declaration of war, we need not be greatly surprised should such a declaration be made at any time.

  1. Act of August 31, 1985, as amended February 20, 1936, and May 1, 1937; 49 Stat. 1081, 49 Stat. 1152, and 50 Stat 121.
  2. Dated May 1, 1937; 50 Stat. 1831.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1901, Appendix (Affairs in China), p. 312.