The Italian Ambassador (Colonna) to the Secretary of State
The Italian Ambassador presents his compliments to the Honorable Secretary of State and has the honor to bring the following to his attention.
According to information received, the twenty-eight Italian merchant ships laying in United States waters have, during the night between the 29th and 30th of March, been seized by Federal Authorities and their crews, forced to land, are detained in very unhealthy and pitiable conditions, in some cases even in ordinary prisons.[Page 456]
While bringing these facts to the knowledge of the Royal Italian Government, to which he reserves any further action in the matter, the Italian Ambassador cannot refrain from expressing to the Honorable Secretary of State his protest for such an unprecedented action on the part of Federal Authorities against Italian properties and nationals.
The Italian Ambassador has in the meantime the honor to inquire about the views and intentions of the United States Government concerning the ships (on which it is reported the Italian flag has been lowered and replaced by the American flag) as well as concerning the detained Italian nationals who constituted their crews.
Furthermore, as in certain instances, Italian Consuls seem to have been prevented from communicating with the Captains and crews of the seized ships, the Italian Ambassador is confident that instructions will be immediately given to the appropriate local authorities in order that Consular officers may be allowed to visit them.
An urgent reply on the matter involved would be appreciated.