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United States Department of State / Index to the executive documents of the House of Representatives for the second session of the fiftieth Congress, 1888-'90
(1888-1889)

Belgium,   pp. 24-50 PDF (11.1 MB)


Page 38


  38                          POREIGN     RELATIONS.
  the~department of foreign affairs at Washington, that, according to the
laws of Con-
  gress, the right to carry the American flag can only belong in practice
to vessels reg-
  istered at a custom-house. That is to say that by the fact itself of registry
ships'
  papers are obtained. The work which I have just cited adds that foreign
tribunals
  would not be required to recognize certificates of American property delivered
by the
  consul to vessels of foreign construction.
    Permit me to recall also that international acts to which the Government
of the
  United States is a party consecrate the obligation for a vessel to justify
her nationality
  by ships' papers. In the presence of these dispositions which animate our
two Gov-
  ernments I can not prevent myself from regretting, Mr. Minister, that the
terms of
  the decree of the 30th of April last have been able to give birth to a
doubt as to their
  real meaning.
    My Government does not seek, in fact, to interfere in the delivery of
these papers
  nor to dictate the conditions upon which such delivery should be subordinated;
it is
  too penetrated with respect for the rights of the powers and too convinced
that they
  would respect its own to raise this pretention. All that is desired is
to prevent the
  abusive use of foreign flags, and on this point an accordance of views
appear to ex-
  ist betweeni us; it is that vessels establish by a regular document that
they are the
  property of foreign citizens and authorized as such to hoist the colors
of their country.
    I desire to add, Mr. Minister, that on this questionl, as on all others
that could arise
 between the two countries, my Government will always be happy to accord
to th"
 one that you represent all the satisfaction reconcilable with the interest
which it pro-
 tects.
   It has it at heart to recognize by its friendly action the-fruitful support
that the
 Government of the United States lent to it at the time of its foundation,
and it will
 know how, being inspired with a duty of gratitude, to testify its solicitude
to the
 enterprises in which the citizens of the United States will take the initiative
in its
 territories. It likes to believe, on its side, that the Government of the
United States
 will not cease to encourage it with its sympathies and that on the present
occasion
 it would kindly re-enforce, by its moral support, the authority of which
the young
 state has need in order to assure the success of its civilizing and philanthropic
work.
       Please accept, Mr. Minister, the assurances, etc.,
   The administrator general of the department of foreign affairs.
                                                           EDM. VAN EETVELDE.
                                [Inclosure 2 in No. 305.]
                            Mr. Tree to Mr. van Eetvelde.
                                          LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
                                                        Brussels, February
4, 1888.
   SinR: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your esteemed note
of the
 28th ultimo, which I have read with interest.
   You therein confirm what I supposed would be the case, that your Government
 and mine are in entire accord on the point that the general act of the Berlin
Confer-
 ence opens to the flag of all natignalities, without distinction, free access
to the navi-
 gation of the Congo and its affluents, whether parties to the convention
or not.
   We equally agree on the general principle that the enforcement by the
state
through which a free river flows of police regulations, with a view to the
preserva-
tion of public order and the protection of public health within its territories,
is not
inconsistent with the enjoyment of the free use of the river for the purposes
of navi-
gation, trade, and commerce. I am not able to see, however, that the demand
on the
part of such state that foreign vessels traversing free waters shall display
the flag
of the state, or that the authorities of the state may properly exercise
the right of de-
ciding upon the sufficiency of the papers on board establishing the vessel's
nationality
as a prerequisite to her flying another flag than that of the riparian state,
is in any
sense a police regulation. If this demand is founded on law, the principle
in this
instance must be sought for elsewhere than in the right to make and enforce
police
regulation',.
  Nor am I prepared to admit, while fully recognizing the benevolent and
kindly mo-
tives which actuate the authorities of the state, that the freedom of navigation
of
the waters of the Congo is assured, when the undisturbed enjoyment of this
right can
be obtained for foreign vessels only on the condition of flying-the flag
recognized or
respected by the people of the riparian state. It is possibl'e that such
vessels might
  *Regulations prescribed for the use of the consular service of the United
States,
article 2~26, Washington, 1874.


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