851.711/371: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Bullitt )

1304. Referring to telegram no. 51 of October 23 from Consul at Marseille. Please, at once, lodge a vigorous protest with the Foreign Office concerning this unwarranted interference with mails destined to the United States from other neutral sources, pointing out that:

Such correspondence, destined to the United States, cannot contain merchandise which the French authorities are authorized to seize under any belligerent rights.
Such mails, of necessity, contain shipping documents, remittances, etc., as well as commercial correspondence and its mere detention from one sailing to the next will necessarily cause serious injury to American banking and commercial interests.
The action of the French authorities appears to be clearly violative of the precepts of Article I of the eleventh Hague Convention of 1907.69
Such action will inevitably engender vigorous public resentment in the United States.
This action involves not only a violation of the rights of the private American citizens concerned but also a violation of the right of this Government to expect that its commercial and other relations with other neutral countries shall remain free from gratuitous and unlawful molestation.
This Government is convinced that, from the standpoint of the French Government alone, any advantages to be gained by such a procedure will be vastly counterbalanced by the consequent disadvantages.

You will therefore express the hope that the French Government will at once disavow the seizure of the mails from the S. S. Excambion and give assurances that such action will not be repeated. Advise at once of the reply of the French Government.

  1. Convention relative to right of capture in naval war, concluded October 18, 1907; Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. 2, p. 1236.