841.731/2115: Telegram

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

1130. American business interests are suffering severe losses due to the requirement of the British authorities that the use of code and cipher be prohibited as well as the use of cable addresses and abbreviated signatures in telegraphic correspondence between the United States and Great Britain.

Under date of September 27, 1939, the Department was informed by the American Embassy in Paris71 that the following is a revised list of the codes accepted by the French authorities in telegraph messages between the United States and France:

  • Code National Français;
  • Bentley’s complete phrase code;
  • Cogef Lugagne 1929;
  • Acme Commodity and phrase code;
  • Peterson Banking code third edition;
  • New Boe code and appendix.

Telegrams in code must carry a word announcing which code is used and must contain no words in any code other than the one announced.

The Merchants’ Association of New York has reminded the Department that prior to April, 1917, the British Government allowed business firms not only to address and sign cable messages in code but also to use for the message itself a limited number of designated codes. See in this connection your Embassy’s telegram 1291, December 18, 1914,72 which stated that the use of code would be permitted in telegrams between the United Kingdom on the one hand and countries outside the European telegraph system on the other, with certain minor exceptions, and which authorized the following codes:

  • ABC fifth edition;
  • Bentley’s complete phrase code (not including the separate mining and oil supplements);
  • Broomhall’s imperial combination code (not including the special rubber edition);
  • Liebers code;
  • Meyers Atlantic Cotton Code (thirty-ninth edition);
  • Scott’s Code tenth edition;
  • Western Union Code.

In view of important commercial relations between the United States and Great Britain, of severe losses being suffered by American [Page 276] business interests, of the present policy pursued by the French authorities in the matter of codes, and of the British precedent quoted above, it is earnestly hoped that the British authorities will see their way to relax the existing regulations to the extent now permitted by the French authorities or by the British authorities in 1914.

Please bring matter immediately to the attention of the British authorities and urge their immediate and sympathetic consideration of the suggestions contained herein.