393.115 President Hoover/81

The Department of State to the Canadian Legation


In its memorandum of November 2, 1937,42 the Canadian Legation requests to be informed whether the Government of the United States is prepared to make representations to the Chinese Government on [Page 484] behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Walter Haskell, parents of the late Lionel Haskell, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the bombing of the steamship President Hoover on August 30, 1937. It is stated in the memorandum that the decedent was a Canadian national, as are also his parents, and reference is made to what is stated to have been the practice of the United States with respect to the protection of alien seamen serving on American vessels.44 It is suggested that such protection might also extend to claims by the estate of a deceased seaman as well as to claims submitted on behalf of seamen who survived the incident.

For the confidential information of the Canadian Legation it may be stated that in view of the spontaneous action of the Chinese Government in accepting full responsibility for the incident and in offering to afford “immediate relief” and “amends”, this Government is not disposed to file, at the present time, formal diplomatic claims against the Chinese Government on behalf of the American nationals who were injured, but proposes to inform the Chinese Government of the extent of the injuries suffered by them and to suggest to the Chinese Government the favorable reaction which would probably result from a voluntary offer by it of specific sums of money to such persons. This Government will be glad to furnish, simultaneously, information to the Chinese Government regarding the present case, including information as to the nationality of the decedent and his parents as set out in the memorandum of the Canadian Legation.

The Canadian Legation will be duly informed regarding the nature of any communication which this Government may receive from the Chinese Government regarding the Haskell case.

[On September 17, 1938, the Department issued the following press release:

“The American Ambassador to China, Mr. Nelson T. Johnson, telegraphed the Department on September 16 that the American Embassy at Chungking had received from the Chinese Government a draft in the amount of $264,887.47 as indemnification for personal injuries and property losses sustained as a result of the bombing of the S.S. President Hoover, an American vessel, on August 30, 1937.”

(Department of State, Press Releases, September 17, 1938, page 190.)]

  1. Not printed.
  2. For a discussion of the status of alien seamen shipped on American vessels in ports of the United States and the character of the protection to which they are entitled, see Green Haywood Hackworth, Digest of International Law, vol. iii, p. 417.