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

No. 1910

Sir: The Department has received the Embassy’s despatch no. 5448 of December 14, 1939 quoting the reply of the Foreign Office to the representations which you were instructed to make concerning censorship of consular mail. It is noted therefrom that correspondence between the Department or the Embassy and consular offices in France [Page 540] is not to be censored but that the exemption will not be applied to correspondence between the American Consuls in France or those in foreign countries.

The Department cannot accede to the position of the French Government with respect to the latter classes of consular mail. Our Consuls are in France for official purposes and by permission of the French Government which may safely assume that they are engaged in no improper activities. They should, therefore, have the right freely to carry on correspondence between themselves and there is no justification for interference with that correspondence. You will please bring these views to the attention of the Foreign Office and express the expectation that in future all correspondence between American consular officers will be accorded the consideration to which it is entitled, including freedom from censorship.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
R. Walton Moore

[In despatch No. 6380, April 12, 1940 (851.711/393), the Embassy in France reported that pursuant to the Department’s instruction No. 1910, January 16, 1940, a note dated February 16, 1940, was presented to the French Government and that in the absence of a reply a second note had been addressed to the Foreign Office. No record of a reply from the French Government has been found in the Department files. However, in the despatch of April 12 it was stated that there had been no recent cases of censorship of mail from one consulate to another, although mail from individuals to consular offices had been censored and at Algiers both second and first class mail from the Department had been censored. The occurrences at Algiers had been brought to the attention of the Foreign Office.]