The Department of State to the Italian Embassy


The Royal Italian Embassy indicates in an undated memorandum15 that the authorities of some States (New York, New Jersey and Washington) have recently discriminated against the nationals of Italy in respect of certain civil and commercial matters, such as, for instance, the granting of licenses to engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages, on the ground that the treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and Italy of February 26, 187116 is no longer in force and in consequence the State authorities are at liberty to enforce the local law.

The Embassy points out that the treaty of 1871 was denounced with the mutual understanding that a new one would be immediately negotiated and suggests that inasmuch as neither Government has indicated a desire to discontinue negotiations, the present ought to be considered as a period of transition during which the status quo ante should, by comity, remain unchanged pending the conclusion of a new treaty.

When joint notice of intention to terminate the treaty of 1871 was given on December 15, 1936, this Government was hopeful that a new treaty could be negotiated and brought into force before the expiration of the old one on December 15th of the ensuing year. Unfortunately, despite substantial progress during the parleys the negotiations failed of successful conclusion within that year.

This Government did not have the understanding which the Embassy’s memorandum appears to assert that in the event the negotiation of the new treaty was not completed within the year either Government would be expected as a matter of comity to continue to accord rights that rested exclusively in the provisions of the old treaty. Notice of termination of the treaty of 1871 was, obviously, as it seems to this Government, unconditional within the provisions of Article XXV.

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As the result of termination of the old treaty and the failure to conclude a new one, there are no treaty provisions in force between the United States and Italy dealing with the subjects referred to in the Royal Italian Embassy’s memorandum. There are no other means than treaty provisions in force whereby rights in respect of such matters as the Italian Embassy has mentioned differing from rights in regard to the same matters established by the laws of the several States may be enjoyed by aliens in the United States. In the circumstances there is no authority whereby the Executive may as a matter of comity accord such rights as continuing after the termination of the Treaty of 1871.

  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of treaty, see William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. i, p. 969. For correspondence on joint denunciation of treaty on December 15, 1936, see Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. ii, pp. 340360 passim.