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PART XVIII Severance of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and
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Chargé Wheeler (tele.
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE UNITED
STATES AND BELLIGERENT GOVERNMENTS RELAT-
DECLARATION OF LONDON.
(Continuation of correspondence printed in Special Supplement,
July, 1915, pp. 1-8, and October, 1916, pp. 1-13.)
The Secretary of State to Chargé Laughlin.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, September 18, 1916. SIR: The Department has received the Ambassador's No. 4181, of July 10, 1916, enclosing for the information of the Department a copy, in duplicate, of the text of an Order in Council, dated the 7th of July, 1916, entitled “The Maritime Rights Order in Council, 1916," which effects a change in the rules hitherto adopted by the British Government to govern its conduct of warfare at sea during the present war, and transmitting, also in duplicate, a copy of a memorandum which has been drawn up by the British and French Governments explaining the grounds for the issue of the Order in Council mentioned.
You are instructed to address a formal note to Lord Grey, with reference to the Order in Council of July 7, 1916, and the memorandum of the same date on this subject, and say that the Government of the United States, after giving these documents careful consideration, deems the rules therein set forth for the guidance of British authorities as at variance with the law and practice of nations in several respects, in regard to some of which the United States has already made known its views in prior correspondence, and that the Government of the United States reserves all of its rights in the
premises, including the right not only to question the validity of these rules, but to present demands and claims in relation to any American interests which may be unlawfully affected directly or indirectly by the application of these rules. I am, etc.,
Ambassador W. H. Page to the Secretary of State.
London, October 11, 1916. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department's Instruction No. 4191 of September 18, with respect to the Maritime Rights Order in Council, 1916, and in reply to enclose herewith, for the information of the Department, a copy of the Note which has been received from the Foreign Office, under date of October 10, in response to the Embassy's representations in the premises. I have, etc.,
WALTER HINES PAGE.
October 10, 1916. YOUR EXCELLENCY:
I have had the honour of receiving Mr. Laughlin's note of the 3rd instant (No. 241), in which he makes a communication under instructions from your Government with respect to the Maritime Rights Order in Council, 1916.
I would point out that if the rules cited in the Order in Council are not deemed by the United States Government to be in accordance with international law, they should be challenged in the Prize Court. I have, etc.,
(For the Secretary of State:)
MAURICE DE BUNSEN.
The Secretary of State to Ambassador W. H. Page.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, November 24, 1916. SIR: The Department has received your No. 4988 of October 11, 1916, with which, having reference to the Department's instruction
No. 4191 of September 18, in relation to the Maritime Rights Order in Council of 1916, you enclose a copy of a note received from the Foreign Office in response to the Embassy's representations in the matter.
You will address to the Foreign Office a note in reply to the effect that without admitting that even individual rights when clearly violated by Orders in Council must be maintained by resort to local tribunals, this Government must announce that it, of course, has no intention to resort to British courts for the maintenance of such of its national rights as may be infringed by Orders in Council of Great Britain. I am, etc.,
MARITIME DANGER ZONES AND MINE AREAS.
Ambassador Gerard to the Secretary of State.
Berlin, August 7, 1914. Mr. Gerard reports that he is informed by the German Foreign Office that German ports are strewn with mines, and it is requested that timely warning be given shippers against navigating in ports which foreign forces might use as bases.
Memorandum from the British Embassy.
His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to communicate to him the following telegram which he received last night from the Foreign Office:
The Germans are scattering contact mines indiscriminately about the North Sea in the open sea without regard to the consequences to merchantmen. Two days ago four large merchant ships were observed to pass within a mile of the minefield which sank H. M. S. Amphion. The waters of the North Sea must therefore be regarded as perilous in the last degree to merchant shipping of all nations. In view of the methods adopted by Germany the British Admiralty must hold themselves fully at liberty to adopt similar measures in self-defence which must inevitably increase the dangers to navigation in the North Sea. But, before doing so, they think it right to issue this warning in order that merchant ships under neutral flags trading with North Sea ports should be turned back before entering the area of such exceptional danger. BRITISH EMBASSY, Washington, August 11, 1914.