340.1115A/11g: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)

998. Your 1668, September 15, 8 p.m. Department understands you have had many difficulties and we are satisfied that you have handled them exceedingly well and with great ability.

On the other hand the Department knows that you appreciate that we also have difficulties and that the best interests of our American citizens abroad are going to be furthered by an understanding on the part of each of the difficulties of the other and a complete desire to cooperate to the best interests of all concerned.

Your telegram raises the question whether other than American citizens can travel on these extra vessels. The American Government [Page 606] is limited in the partial emergency which the President has declared to the extent that authority has not been granted to it to do more than has been authorized by law.

The statute relating to the situation reads:

“… whenever the President shall find that a state of emergency exists endangering the lives of American citizens in any foreign country, he may, etc. …”24

The President’s Proclamation25 reads:

“… by virtue of and pursuant to the authority vested in me by the above-quoted statutory provisions, and in order to meet such emergency and make funds available for the protection of American citizens in foreign countries, I hereby, etc. …”

Consequently the extra shipping which we provided had to be for the use of American citizens.

Department feels that it is without authority to accede to the suggestion of Mr. Massey for 20 Canadians. We regretfully take this position. We have every sympathy and under normal circumstances would be very glad indeed to comply with any suggestion of similar import. However, in addition to the lack of authority there is the further fact that the persons in question are of a belligerent nationality. Their presence aboard a ship of the American flag under the present circumstances, which also contemplates that the ship is on a run specifically arranged by the United States Government and under special authority of the law and Proclamation of the President, might by possible implication jeopardize the lives of American citizens on board that ship. I am sure you will appreciate the implications and that Mr. Massey will understand them if you bring them to his attention. This is entirely aside from the question of authority, which also lies as a predicate for Department’s decision. As to their offer to pay full fare, the question arises as to whether that number of American citizens would not be displaced and as to whether we have the right to consent. Our decision must, under the circumstances, be in the negative.

You also raise the question of the separation of families. This is quite different, for the reason that Department has, under its regular legislative authority, assumed the right to be of assistance to the families of American citizens even though some members of the family are not of American citizenship. Under those circumstances you are advised that where one member of a family is an American citizen they have the right to travel on these specially diverted ships and [Page 607] that they may be accompanied by members of their family who are not American citizens if the latter have visas.

  1. Department of State Appropriation Act, 1940, approved June 29, 1939; 53 Stat. 890.
  2. Reference is to the President’s Executive Order No. 8240, dated September 8, 1939, 4 Federal Register 3863.