« AnteriorContinuar »
especially arms worth billions of marks.” These principles, as the Ambassador stated, have been accepted by the United States Government in the statement issued by the Department of State on October 15 last, entitled “Neutrality and trade in contraband.” Acting in conformity with the propositions there set forth, the United States has itself taken no part in contraband traffic, and has, so far as possible, lent its influence toward equal treatment for all belligerents in the matter of purchasing arms and ammunition of private persons in the United States.
(10) The United States has not suppressed the sale of dumdum bullets to Great Britain.
On December 5 last the German Ambassador addressed a note to the Department, stating that the British Government had ordered from the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. 20,000 “riot guns,” model 1897, and 50,000,000 “buckshot cartridges” for use in such guns. The Department replied that it saw a published statement of the Winchester Co., the correctness of which the company has confirmed to the Department by telegraph. In this statement the company categorically denies that it has received an order for such guns and cartridges from or made any sales of such material to the British Government, or to any other government engaged in the present war. The Ambassador further called attention to “information, the accuracy of which is not to be doubted,” that 8,000,000 cartridges fitted with “mushroom bullets" had been delivered since October of this year by the Union Metallic Cartridge Co, for the armament of the English Army. In reply the Department referred to the letter of December 10, 1914, of the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co., of New York, to the Ambassador, called forth by certain newspaper reports of statements alleged to have been made by the Ambassador in regard to the sales by that company of soft-posed bullets.
From this letter, a copy of which was sent to the Department by the company, it appears that instead of 8,000,000 cartridges having been sold, only a little over 117,000 were manufactured and 109,000 were sold. The letter further asserts that these cartridges were made to supply a demand for a better sporting cartridge with a soft-nosed bullet than had been manufactured theretofore, and that such cartridges can not be used in the military rifles of any foreign powers. The company adds that its statements can be substantiated and that it is ready to give the Ambassador any evidence that he may require on these points. The Department further stated that it was also in receipt from the company of a complete detailed list of the persons to whom these cartridges were sold, and that from this list it appeared that the cartridges were sold to firms in lots of 20 to 2,000 and one lot each of 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000. Of these only 960 cartridges went to British North America and 100 to British East Africa.
The Department added that, if the Ambassador could furnish evidence that this or any other company is manufacturing and selling for the use of the contending armies in Europe cartridges whose use would contravene the Hague conventions, the Department would be glad to be furnished with this evidence, and that the President would, in case any American company is shown to be engaged in this traffic, use his influence to prevent, so far as possible, sales of such ammunition to the powers engaged in the European war, without regard to whether it is the duty of this Government, upon legal or conventional grounds, to take such action.
The substance of both the Ambassador's note and the Department's reply have appeared in the press.
The Department has received no other complaints of alleged sales of dumdum bullets by American citizens to belligerent governments.
(11) British warships are permitted to lie off American ports and intercept neutral vessels.
The complaint is unjustified from the fact that representations were made to the British Government that the presence of war vessels in the vicinity of New York Harbor was offensive to this Government, and a similar complaint was made to the Japanese Government as to one of its cruisers in the vicinity of the port of Honolulu. In both cases the warships were withdrawn.
It will be recalled that in 1863 the Department took the position that captures made by its vessels after hovering about neutral ports would not be regarded as valid. In the Franco-Prussian war, President Grant issued a proclamation warning belligerent warships against hovering in the vicinity of American ports for purposes of observation or hostile acts. The same policy has been maintained in the present war, and in all of the recent proclamations of neutrality the President states that such practice by belligerent warships is “unfriendly and offensive."
(12) Great Britain and her allies are allowed without protest to disregard American citizenship papers and passports.
American citizenship papers have been disregarded in a comparatively few instances by Great Britain, but the same is true of all the belligerents. Bearers of American passports have been arrested in all the countries at war.
In every case of apparent illegal arrest the United States Government has entered vigorous protests with request for release. The Department does not know of any cases, except one or two, which are still under investigation, in which naturalized Germans have not been released upon representations by this Government. There have, however, come to the Department's notice authentic cases in which American passports have been fraudulently obtained and used by certain German subjects.
The Department of Justice has recently apprehended at least four persons of German nationality who, it is alleged, obtained American passports under pretense of þeing American citizens and for the purpose of returning to Germany without molestation by her enemies during the voyage. There are indications that a systematic plan had been devised to obtain American passports through fraud for the purpose of securing safe passage for German officers and reservists desiring to return to Germany. Such fraudulent use of passports by Germans themselves can have no other effect than to cast suspicion upon American passports in general. New regulations, however, requiring among other things the attaching of a photograph of the bearer to his passport, under the seal of the Department of State, and the vigilance of the Department of Justice, will doubtless prevent any further misuse of American passports.
(13) Change of policy in regard to loans to belligerents.
War loans in this country were disapproved because inconsistent with the spirit of neutrality. There is a clearly defined difference between a war loan and the purchase of arms and ammunition. The policy of disapproving of war loans affects all governments alike, so that the disapproval is not an unneutral act. The case is entirely different in the matter of arms and ammunition, because prohibition of export not only might not, but in this case would not, operate equally upon the nations at war. Then, too, the reason given for the disapproval of war loans is supported by other considerations which are absent in the case presented by the sale of arms and ammunition. The taking of money out of the United States during such a war as this might seriously embarrass the Government in case it needed to borrow money, and it might also seriously impair this Nation's ability to assist the neutral nations which, though not participants in the war, are compelled to bear a heavy burden on account of the war, and, again, a war loan, if offered for popular subscription in the United States, would be taken up chiefly by those who are in sympathy with the belligerent seeking the loan. The result would be that great numbers of the American people might become more earnest partisans, having material interest in the success of the belligerent whose bonds they hold. These purchases would not be confined to a few, but would spread generally throughout the country, so that the people would be divided into groups of partisans, which would result in intense bitterness and might cause an undesirable, if not a serious, situation. On the other hand, contracts for and sales of contraband are mere matters of trade. The manufacturer, unless peculiarly sentimental, would sell to one belligerent as readily as he would to another. No general spirit of partisanship is aroused-no sympathies excited. The whole transaction is merely a matter of business.
This Government has not been advised that any general loans have been made by foreign governments in this country since the President expressed his wish that loans of this character should not be made.
(14) Submission to arrest of native-born Americans on neutral vessels and in British ports and their imprisonment.
The general charge as to the arrest of American-born citizens on board neutral vessels and in British ports, the ignoring of their passports, and their confinement in jails, requires evidence to support it. That there have been cases of injustice of this sort is unquestionably true, but Americans in Germany have suffered in this way as Americans have in Great Britain. This Government has conidered that the majority of these cases resulted from overzealousness on the part of subordinate officials in both countries. Every case which has been brought to the attention of the Department of State has been promptly investigated and, if the facts warranted, a demand for release has been made.
(15) Indifference to confirement of non-combatants in detention camps in England and France.
As to the detention of non-combatants confired in concertration camps, all the belligerents, with perhaps the exception of Servia and Russia, have made similar complaints and those for whom this Goverr ment is acting have asked investigations, which representatives of this Government have made impartially, Their reports have shown that the treatment of prisor ers is generally as good as possible under the conditions in all countries, and that there is no more reason to sav that they are mistreated in one country than in another country or that this Government has manifested an indifference in the matter. As this Department's efforts at investigations seemed to develop bitterness between the countries, the Department on November 20 sent a circular instruction to its representatives not to undertake further investigation of concentration camps.
But at the special request of the German Government that Mr. Jackson, former American Minister at Bucharest, now attached to the American Embassy at Berlin, make an investigation of the prison camps in England, in addition to the investigations already made, the Department has consented to dispatch Mr. Jackson on this special mission.
(16) Failure to prevent transshipment of British troops and war material across the territory of the United States.
The Department has had no specific case of the passage of convoys of troops across American territory brought to its notice. There have been rumors to this effect, but no actual facts have been presented. The transshipment of reservists of all belligerents who have requested the privilege has been permitted on condition that they travel as individuals and not as organized, uniformed, or arined bodies. The German Embassy has advised the Department that it would not be likely to avail itself of the privilege, but Germany's ally, Austria-Hungary, did so.
Only one case raising the question of the transit of war material owned by a belligerent across United States territory has come to the Department's notice. This was a request on the part of the Canadian Government for permission to ship equipment across Alaska to the sea. The request was refused.
(17) Treatment and final internment of German steamship “Geier" and the collier “ Locksun” at Honolulu.
The Geier entered Honolulu on October 15 in an unseaworthy condition. The commanding officer reported the necessity of extensive repairs which would require an indefinite period for completion. The vessel was allowed the generous period of three weeks to November 7 to make repairs and leave the port, or, failing to do so, to be interned. A longer period would have been contrary to international practice, which does not permit a vessel to remain for a long time in a neutral port for the purpose of repairing a generally run-down condition due to long sea service. Soon after the German cruiser arrived at Honolulu a Japanese cruiser appeared off the port and the commander of the Geier chose to intern the vessel rather than to depart from the harbor.
Shortly after the Geier entered the port of Honolulu the steamer Locksun arrived. It was found that this vessel had delivered coal to the Geier en route and had accompanied her toward Hawaii. As she had thus constituted herself a tender or collier to the Geier, she was accorded the same treatment and interned on November 7.
(18) Unfairness to Germany in rules relative to coaling of warships in Panama Canal Zone.
By proclamation of November 13, 1914, certain special restrictions were placed on the coaling of warships or their tenders or colliers in the Canal Zone. These regulations were framed through the collaboration of the State, Navy, and War Departments and without the slightest reference to favoritism to the belligerents. Before these regulations were proclaimed, war vessels could procure coal of the Panama Railway in the Zone ports, but no belligerent vessels are known to have done so. Under the proclamation fuel may be taken on by belligerent warships only with the consent of the Canal authorities and in such amounts as will enable them to reach the nearest accessible neutral port; and the amount so taken on shall be deducted from the amount procurable in United States ports within three months thereafter. Now, it is charged the United States has shown partiality because Great Britain and not Germany happens to have colonies in the near vicinity where British ships may coal, while Germany has no such coaling facilities. Thus, it is intimated the United States should balance the inequalities of geographical position by refusing to allow any warships of belligerents to coal in the Canal until the war is over. As no German warship has sought to obtain coal in the Canal Zone, the charge of discrimination rests upon a possibility which during several months of warfare has failed to materialize.
(19) Failure to protest against the modifications of the Declaration of London by the British Government.
The German Foreign Office presented to the diplomats in Berlin a memorandum dated October 10, calling attention to violations of and changes in the Declaration of London by the British Government and inquiring as to the attitude of the United States toward such action on the part of the Allies. The substance of the memorandum was forthwith telegraphed to the Department on October 22 and was replied to shortly thereafter to the effect that the United States had withdrawn its suggestion, made early in the war, that for the sake of uniformity the Declaration of London should be adopted as a temporary code of naval warfare during the present war, owing to the unwillingness of the belligerents to accept the declaration without changes and modifications, and that thenceforth the United States would insist that the rights of the United States and its citizens in the war should be governed by the existing rules of international law.
As this Government is not now interested in the adoption of the Declaration of London by the belligerents, the modifications by the belligerents in that code of naval warfare are of no concern to it except as they adversely affect the rights of the United States and those of its citizens as defined by international law. In so far as those rights have been infringed the Department has made every effort to obtain redress for the losses sustained.
(20) General unfriendly attitude of Government toward Germany and Austria.
If any American citizens, partisans of Germany and Austria-Hungary, feel that this administration is acting in a way injurious to the cause of those countries, this feeling results from the fact that on the high seas the German and Austro-Hungarian naval power is thus far inferior to the British. It is the business of a belligerent operating on the high seas, not the duty of a neutral, to prevent contraband from reaching an enemy. Those in this country who sympathize with Germany and Austria-Hungary appear to assume that some obligation rests upon this Government in the performance of its neutral duty to prevent all trade in contraband, and thus to equalize the difference due to the relative naval strength of the belligerents. No such obligation exists; it would be an unneutral act, an act of partiality on the part of this Government, to -adopt such a policy if the Executive had the power to do so. If Germany and Austria-Hungary can not import contraband from this country, it is not, because of that fact, the duty of the United States to close its markets to the Allies.
The markets of this country are open upon equal terms to all the world, to every nation, belligerent or neutral.
The foregoing categorical replies to specific complaints are sufficient answer to the charge of unfriendliness to Germany and Austria-Hungary: I am (etc.)
W. J. BRYAN
tions, orders, and decrees of belligerent governments on contraband