Слике страница

30. As for the lists of money orders, to which the Government of the United States assigns the character of ordinary mail, the allied Governments deem it their duty to draw the attention of the Government of the United States to the following practical consideration:

31. As a matter of fact the lists of money orders mailed from the United States to Germany and Austria-Hungary correspond to moneys paid in the United States and payable by the German and Austro-Hungarian post offices. Those lists acquaint those post office's with the sums that have been paid there which, in consequence, they have to pay to the addressees. In practice such payment is at the disposal of such addressees and is effected directly to them as soon as those lists arrive, and without the requirement of the individual orders having come into the hands of the addressees. These lists are thus really actual money orders transmitted in lump in favor of several addressees. Nothing, in the opinion of the allied Governments, seems to justify the liberty granted to the enemy country so to receive funds intended to supply by that amount its financial resisting power.

32. The American memorandum sees fit firmly to recall that neutral and belligerent rights are equally sacred and must be strictly respected. The allied Governments, so far as they are concerned, wholly share that view. They are sincerely striving to avoid an encroachment by the exercise of their belligerent rights on the legitimate exercise of the rights of innocent neutral commerce, but they hold that it is their belligerent right to exercise on the high seas the supervision granted them by international law to impede any transportation intended to aid their enemy in the conduct of the war and to uphold his resistance. The rights of the United States as a neutral power can not, in our opinion, imply the protection granted by the Federal Government to shipments, invoices, correspondence, or communications in any shape whatever having an open or concealed hostile character and with a direct or indirect hostile destination, which American private persons can only effect at their own risk and peril. That is the very principle which was expressly stated by the President of the United States in his neutrality proclamation.

33. Furthermore, should any abuses, grave errors, or derelictions committed by the allied authorities charged with the duty of inspecting mails be disclosed to the Governments of France and Great Britain, they are now as they ever were ready to settle responsibility therefor in accordance with the principles of law and justice which it never was and is not now their intention to evade.

The Government has had a lengthy correspondence touching the matter of censorship of telegrams and cablegrams, transmitted by wireless and cable, which need not here be reproduced. The points of controversy indicate the difficulty of any neutral country securing unbiased information as news when these avenues of transmission are not open.

Another source of controversy with England grows out of the exercise of the power to take from American steamships German citizens: THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO AMBASSADOR W. H. PAGE.

[Telegram—Paraphrase. ]


Washington, February 23, 1916. Mr. Lansing informs Mr. Page that the department is advised by American consuls in Hongkong, Nagasaki, and Shanghai, and by the owners of the American steamship China, that on the 18th instant the British cruiser Laurentic stopped the China on the high seas, about 10 miles from the entrance to the Yangtzekiang, boarded her with an armed party, and, despite the captain's protest, removed from the vessel 28 Germans, 8 Austrians, and 2 Turks, including physicians and merchants, and took them to Hongkong, where they are detained as prisoners in the military barracks. As it is understood that none of the men taken from the China were incorporated in the armed forces of the enemies of Great Britain, the action of the Laurentic must be regarded by this Government as an unwarranted invasion of the sovereignty of American vessels on the high seas. After the notice given to the British Government of this Government's attitude in the Piepenbrink case in March last, which was based upon the principle contended for by Earl Russel in the Trent case, this Government is surprised at this exercise of belligerent power on the high seas far removed from the. zone of hostile operations. Ambassador Page is directed to present this matter to the Government of Great Britain at once and to insist vigorously that if facts are as reported orders be given for the immediate release of the persons taken from the China.

[ocr errors]


No. 3259.]


London, March 17, 1916. SIR: With reference to the department's telegram No. 2924, of February 23, 1916, protesting against the removal of 38 enemy subjects of Great Britain by the British ship Laurentic from the steamship China on the high seas off the entrance to the Yangtze River, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a note, dated the 16th instant, from the foreign office in reply to the representations I made to Sir Edward Grey in the premises. I have, etc.,





FOREIGN OFFICE, March 16, 1916. YOUR EXCELLENCY: His Majesty's Government have given the most careful consideration to the memorandum which your excellency was good enough to communicate to me on the 24th ultimo, conveying a protest from the United States Government against the removal of 38 enemy subjects by His Majesty's ship Laurentic from the steamship China on the high seas off the entrance to the Yangtse River, and I now have the honor to offer the following observations as an expression of the views of His Majesty's Government in regard to the matter.

The latest attempt to define by common agreement the limits within which a belligerent naval power may remove enemy persons from neutral ‘ships on the high seas is represented by article 47 of the Declaration of London, 1909. This article permitted the arrest of such persons if “ embodied in the armed forces of the enemy, without regard to the destination of the ship on which they were found traveling. The commentary on article 45 of the declaration contained in the report of the drafting committee of the London naval conference states that on practical, not legal, grounds it was agreed that the terms “ embodied in the armed forces of the enemy” should be considered as not including reservists not yet attached to their mili- : tary units.

At the beginning of the war His Majesty's Government adhered to articles 45 and 47 of the Declaration of London, as interpreted by the report of the drafting committee. They took this step as a matter of convenience, being at liberty, as the declaration was an unratified instrument, to cancel at any time their adherence, provided always that their subsequent action did not conflict with the general principles of international law. When the German authorities began : to remove able-bodied persons of military age from the occupied portions of France and Belgium, His Majesty's Government, as indicated in the circular note which I had the honor to address on the 4th November, 1914, to the representatives of neutral powers in London, felt that they could no longer accept the restrictive interpretation placed for practical reasons on the terms of article 47 of the Declaration of London by the report of the drafting committee, and that they must arrest all enemy reservists found on board neutral ships on the high seas, no matter where they might be met.

I am aware that the United States Government, after their suggestion early in the war that the belligerent powers should adopt the Declaration of London in its entirety as a code of international naval law did not find general acceptance, having declared that they no longer consider the declaration as being in force. I have referred at some length to the bearings of the declaration on the position of His Majesty's Government in this question, because article 47 represents the latest, if not the only, attempt to arrive at a definition, by common consent of the chief maritime nations, of the law in regard to the matter. The attempt was necessarily conditioned by the experience of previous wars, and the definition was reached after weighing the claims and the convenience of neutral shipping against the importance to belligerent powers, as shown by the experience of previous wars, of preventing enemy subjects from proceeding to their destination and pursuing the hostile purposes for which they were organized.

It is evident, however, from the foregoing observations that the principle (often contended for in the past by certain continental nations) that there are certain classes of persons who are not protected by a neutral flag on the high seas and may therefore, without

and Bete which Intatives of

any invasion of the sovereign rights of the neutral, be removed from a neutral ship is now generally admitted. The carriage of such persons may in some cases amount to unneutral service, rendering the ship liable to condemnation; but even when this is not so the removal of such persons from a neutral ship by a belligerent does not justify any complaint by the neutral State concerned. The question in the present case is, therefore, whether the character and position of the persons removed from the China were such as to bring the case within the principle enunciated above.

The present war has shown that the belligerent activity of the enemies of this country is by no means confined to the actual theaters of military and naval operations and that there is no limit to the methods by which Germany in particular seeks to secure a victory for her arms. The hostile efforts of the enemy have shown, and continue to show, themselves on neutral soil in many parts of the world in political intrigues, revolutionary plots, schemes for attacking the sea-borne trade of this country and her allies, endeavors to facilitate the operations of ships engaged in this task, and in criminal enterprises of different kinds directed against the property of neutrals and belligerents alike. War has in effect been extended far beyond the bounds of the area in which opposing armies maneuver, and an unscrupulous belligerent may inflict the deadliest blows on his enemy in regions remote from actual fighting. It may be recalled that a certain Lieut. Robert Fay, of the German Army, was reported in the press last autumn to have been detected experimenting with bombs designed to destroy merchant ships leaving America and operating in the interests of the enemies of Germany. He was said to have admitted that he was sent by the German authorities to the United States expressly for this purpose. His Majesty's Government are not aware what degree of truth there may be in this story, but numerous incidents in America and elsewhere have shown that the facts may be as stated and may be typical.

It is then evidently of the greatest importance for a belligerent power to intercept on the high seas not only mobilized members of the opposing army who may be found traveling on neutral ships, but also those agents whom the enemy sends to injure his opponent abroad or whose services he enjoys without having himself commissioned them. Practical considerations from the belligerents' point of view have changed, and the change necessarily implies a modification in the precise description of enemy subjects whom it is lawful to arrest, supposing such a precise description can be said to have existed in any binding form.

I may add that the action of the United States Government in forwarding requests for safe conduct for agents of States at war with this country whose actions had been such that their continued presence in the United States could no longer be tolerated affords a strong indication that the right to remove certain classes of persons from neutral ships can, in the circumstances of this present war, not be confined to persons embodied in the armed forces of a belligerent.

I may add for the confidential information of the Governments of the United States that from actual occurrences and from reliable information received it has been definitely established that the Germans resident in Shanghai have been engaged for some time past in the collection of arms and ammunition, both for clandestine transmission to

India and, if possible, for the arming of a ship to play the part of a far eastern Moewe. His Majesty's Government were able to cope with this activity to a considerable extent and obtained the arrest of various German agents caught in the act of attempting to smuggle arms out of Shanghai; further, the Germans became aware that His Majesty's Government knew of their plots. The commander in chief, China station, received information that owing to this fact the Germans were planning to shift the center of their activity from Shanghai to Manila. Subsequently he was definitely informed that 35 Germans had planned to leave Shanghai in the steamship China and proceed to Manila.

His Majesty's ships were sent to. patrol off the mouth of the Yangtze with the view of intercepting this party. The date of the China's departure was more than once postponed, but she eventually sailed, was intercepted by His Majesty's ship Laurentic and found to have on board Germans and Austrians corresponding to those concerning whom information, as mentioned above, had been received. The Laurentic, therefore, had no hesitation in removing them. The next ostensible port of call of the China was Nagasaki, a convenient place at which to transfer to another vessel proceeding to Manila.

It may be added that subsequent information fully confirms that the movement of the body of Germans in question was an integral part of the plot referred to above.

I do not think it will be disputed that persons of this description must be placed within the category of individuals who may, without any infraction of the sovereignty of a neutral state, be removed from a neutral vessel on the high seas. The object of their journey was to find another neutral asylum in which they might continue their operations against the interests of this country. The acts which they desired to perform upon the soil of the United States were such as possibly to compromise the neutrality of that country or to constitute an offense against its criminal laws. They were in effect persons whose past actions and future intentions deprived them of any protection from the neutral flag under which they were sailing.

In your excellency's note reference is made to the case of the Trent. I venture to hope that the preceding observations show clearly that the present case is of an entirely different nature to that on which the United States Government rely. At the date when the Trent case occurred no agreement had been reached as to the claim put forward by certain countries that a belligerent is entitled to remove certain classes of individuals from a neutral ship without bringing the vessel in for adjudication in the prize court; since then, as I have pointed out above, a considerable measure of agreement had been reached on this point. In any case the nature of the persons concerned in the episode of the Trent was entirely different from that of the individuals removed from the China. Messrs. Slidell and Mason were proceeding to Europe, according to their contention, as the diplomatic representatives of a belligerent; at that time the suggestion that the functions of a diplomatic representative should include the organizing of outrages upon the soil of the neutral country to which he was accredited was unheard of, and the removal of the gentlemen in question could only be justified on the ground that their representative character was sufficient to bring them within the classes of persons whose removal from a neutral vessel was justifiable.

« ПретходнаНастави »