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DIVISION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
Pamphlet No. 26
OPINIONS OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL, DECISIONS OF FEDERAL COURTS, AND DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING THE TREATIES OF 1785, 1799 AND 1828 BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND PRUSSIA.
PUBLISHED BY THE ENDOWMENT
On January 31, 1917, the German government informed the United States that
“from February 1, 1917, all sea traffic will be stopped with every available weapon and without further notice in the following blockade zones [describing them in detail] around Great Britain France, Italy and in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
On the third day of February, the President of the United States addressed both Houses of Congress in joint session, and, after stating in detail the relations between Germany and the United States and the apparent intention on the part of the German government to deprive the United States of the rights which neutrals possessed upon the high seas, he informed the Congress that he had
“directed the Secretary of State to announce to His Excellency the German Ambassador that all diplomatic relations between the United States and the German Empire are severed, and that the American Ambassador at Berlin will immediately be withdrawn; and, in accordance with this decision, to hand to His Excellency his passports.”
The passports were accordingly handed to His Excellency the German Ambassador the same day, and diplomatic relations between the two countries were thus severed.
There are three treaties which in whole or in part in the opinion of the German Empire and of the United States affect their international relations. The treaties in question are: First, the treaty of amity and commerce concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on September 10, 1785; second, the treaty of amity and commerce concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on July 11, 1799; and, third, the treaty of commerce and navigation concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on May 1, 1828.
These treaties have been held by the governments of the contracting parties to apply not only to Prussia, but to the North German Confederation, of which Prussia was the leading member, and also to the
German Empire, of which the King of Prussia is the German Emperor.
The opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States, the decisions of Federal Courts and the correspondence between the German Empire on the one hand and the United States on the other, relating to the nature and binding effect of the treaties are here collected from official sources and issued in the present pamphlet. Although some parts of the subject-matter in these opinions, decisions and correspondence may not seem to be strictly necessary to the purposes of this pamphlet, it has been deemed advisable to print them in full and not to take any liberties with the original texts.
JAMES BRowN Scott, Director of the Division of International Law WASHINGTon, D. C., February 28, 1917.