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Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, read the following statement in the House of Commons on behalf of the Premier, Mr. Asquith, who was unable to be present:

The Prime Minister, who unfortunately is unable to be present owing to temporary indisposition, has requested me to read to the House a statement which he intended to make on the subject of the entry of Portugal into the war.

The immediate cause of the declaration by Germany of a state of war with the most ancient of our Allies has been the decision of the Portuguese Government to requisition the German ships which, since the commencement of hostilities, have been lying in the home and colonial ports of Portugal. Had Portugal been entirely a neutral nation, without ties or alliances with any of the combatants, her action would nevertheless have been completely justified. The war has been the cause of a rapidly-increasing shortage of tonnage in all parts of the globe, and it became clear that in the interests of their country it was the duty of the Portuguese Government to make use of all the available ships in their harbours. This was their view and it was also urged upon them by His Majesty's Government. They accordingly proceeded to requisition the German ships in their ports, explaining to Germany the reasons which prompted them to take this action and promising eventually to indemnify the owners of the vessels. The German ships had been lying in their harbours for more than 18 months; they therefore fell within the broad principle that a state is entitled in cases of emergency to take the property of all individuals within its jurisdiction and to convert it to the public use-a right which is inhere in the sovereignty of the state and which cannot be challenged by any foreign Power.

But Portugal was not a neutral nation in the narrowest sense of the term. At the beginning of the war the Portuguese Government declared that in no circumstances would they disregard the duties of their ancient alliance with Great Britain; and now, as always, they have remained faithful to their obligations as our Allies. They were but following a course of action which would have injured no third party, for requisition would have been followed by payment in compensation, but the German Government saw fit to precipitate matters by a peremptory demand for an explanation, shortly followed by a declaration of war, thus altering the whole position as regards the payment of any compensation for the vessels.

It is to be observed that Germany, who now charged Portugal with a breach of neutrality, had herself in October and again in December, 1914, violated the territory of Portugal by raids into the Portuguese colony of Angola, and later by seeking to stir up a native rebellion in Portuguese East Africa.

Portugal may rest assured that Great Britain and the Allies will afford her all the assistance that she may require, and that, having been compelled to range herself on the side of the Allies, she will be welcomed as a gallant coadjutor in the defence of the great cause for which the present war is being waged. (London Times, March 15, 1916.

The purpose of the present comment is not to express an opinion as to the propriety of the action of Portugal, because neither the text of the treaties in question nor the Portuguese note to Germany justifying its action is before the writer, but to lay before the reader an official statement emanating from each of the three governments.

The ancient alliance between Portugal and Great Britain to which Sir Edward Grey refers dates apparently from the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance between England and Portugal, repeatedly reaffirmed and apparently still in effect, signed at London, on June 16, 1373, by which each country pledged itself to assist the other in case of war. Of this very interesting treaty only the first article, which follows, can be quoted, although the document as a whole is very interesting reading, and shows how treaties were made in early days:

In the first place, we settle and covenant that there shall be from this day forward between our abovesaid Lord Edward, King of England and France, and the Lord Ferdinand, King of Portugal and Algarve, and the Lady Eleanor Queen and his Consort, their Successors in the aforesaid Kingdoms of England and Portugal, and their Realms, Lands, Dominions, Provinces, Vassals, and Subjects faithfully obeying them, whatsoever, true, faithful, constant, mutual, and perpetual Friendships, Unions, Alliances, and Leagues of sincere affection, and that as true and faithful Friends they shall henceforth reciprocally be Friends to Friends, and Enemies to Enemies, and shall assist, maintain, and uphold each other mutually by sea and by land against all Men that may live or die, of whatever dignity, station, rank, or condition they may be, and against their Lands, Realms, and Dominions.

They shall strive for and preserve, as much as in them lies, the personal safety, security, interest, and honour, and the harmlessness, conservation and restitution of their rights, property, effects, and Friends, wheresoever they be.

They shall everywhere faithfully prevent the hurts and injuries, disgrace or baseness which they know or which one Party knows to be at any future time intended or contemplated against the other Party, and shall provide remedies for them; and they shall as expeditiously as may be, by Letters or Messengers, or in any better way which they can contrive, without reserve and fully inform, forewarn, and usefully counsel the other Party against whom such things are meditating, relative to what has just been mentioned.

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The treaty from which the above article has been quoted has been more fortunate than most documents of a like nature, because, although negotiated some five centuries and more ago, it is still in effect and has been broken by neither party, and the alliance and friendship it was meant to bring about still exists, witness the participation of Portugal in the present war.


1 For the text of this very interesting document see British and Foreign State Papers, Vol. I, Pt. 1, pp. 462–68.


A belligerent war vessel is, under ordinary circumstances, allowed to remain twenty-four hours and to enjoy but a limited hospitality in a neutral port. If the war vessel refuses to leave at the expiration of twenty-four hours, provided that the twenty-four hour rule be the law of the neutral country, as is the case with the United States, the vessel becomes a trespasser and the neutral government is authorized either to escort it to the high seas or to deprive it of its power to conduct hostilities; that is to say, to intern it, to use the technical phrase.

The practice of the United States in this matter was formed during the Russo-Japanese War in the cases of the Russian war vessels Aurora, Oleg and Zemtchug, which took refuge in American jurisdiction in 1905, and more especially in the case of the Russian transport or auxiliary cruiser Lena, which entered San Francisco harbor in 1904. In reply to the request of the Russian Ambassador that the vessel "might receive all aid compatible with neutrality," the Ambassador was advised, as stated by Professor Moore in his Digest, "that if the vessel was repaired, only such bare repairs could be allowed as might be necessary to render the vessel seaworthy and enable her to reach the nearest home port, and that even such repairs could be permitted only on condition that they should not prove to be too extensive.” As the repairs required to make the Lena seaworthy would have amounted “to a renovation of the vessel," its captain yielded to the inevitable that his ship should be disarmed and be interned in American waters as a condition of being made seaworthy. The further action of the United States in this case, which may be said to have made the law on the subject, is thus stated by Professor Moore in his Digest:

The President, on the afternoon of the 15th of September, issued an order directing that the Lena be taken into custody by the naval authorities of the United States and disarmed under the following conditions: (1) That the vessel be taken to the Mare Island Navy-Yard and there disarmed by removal of small guns, breechblocks, small arms, ammunition, and ordnance stores, and such other dismantlement as might be prescribed by the commandant of the navy-yard; (2) that the captain of the Lena should give a written guarantee that she should not leave San Francisco till peace had been concluded, and that the officers and crew should be paroled not to leave San Francisco till some other understanding as to their disposal might be reached between the United States and both belligerents; (3) that, after disarmament, the vessel might be removed to a private dock for such reasonable repairs as would make her seaworthy and preserve her in good condition during detention, or be so repaired at the navy-yard, should the Russian commander so elect, and that while at the private dock the commandant of the navy-yard should have the custody of the ship, and that the repairs should be overseen by an engineer officer to be detailed by him; (4) that the cost of repairs, of private docking, and of maintenance of the ship, officers, and crew while in custody should be borne by the Russian Government, but the berthing at Mare Island and the custody and surveillance of the vessel by the United States; (5) that the vessel, when repaired, if peace had not then been concluded, should be taken back to Mare Island and there held in custody till the end of the war. The Russian Ambassador expressed the adherence of his government to these conditions, but asked that the officers and crew of the vessel, except 5 officers and 100 seamen, who were necessary for her care, might be permitted to leave the United States. The Japanese Government, on the other hand, asked that all the officers and crew be detained in the United States till the termination of hostilities. The President decided that it would not be consistent with neutrality to grant the request for the repatriation of any of the officers or crew of the Lena, unless both the belligerents agreed to it. Without such an agreement he regarded the position of the men as being identical in principle with that of a military force entering neutral territory and there necessarily held by the neutral.

December 10, 1904, the Russian Ambassador asked that the captain and crew of the Lena might be permitted to celebrate the name day of the Emperor on the 19th of the month, by hoisting the national flag over the vessel, dressing the ship, and firing the imperial salute. The United States assented to the display of the national standard and the dressing of the ship, but found it impracticable to agree to the firing of the salute, in view of the fact that, as the Lena was not in commission, but was lying in a friendly port completely disarmed and in the custody of the United States till the end of the war, her character as a warship, including the function of saluting and the right to receive salutes, was in abeyance."

It is to be borne in mind that this action of the United States took place in 1904-5, before the meeting of the Second Hague Peace Conference, and therefore before the drafting of Convention No. 13 of the Second Conference, concerning the rights and duties of neutral Powers in naval war, Article 24 of which reads:

If, notwithstanding the notification of the neutral Power, a belligerent ship of war does not leave a port where it is not entitled to remain, the neutral Power is entitled to take such measures as it considers necessary to render the ship incapable of taking the sea during the war, and the commanding officer of the ship must facilitate the execution of such measures.

When a belligerent ship is detained by a neutral Power, the officers and crew are likewise detained.

The officers and crew thus detained may be left in the ship or kept either on another vessel or on land, and may be subjected to the measures of restriction which it may appear necessary to impose upon them. A sufficient number of men for looking after the vessel must, however, be always left on board.

The officers may be left at liberty on giving their word not to quit the neutral territory without permission.

17 Moore's International Law Digest, pp. 999–1000.

It will be observed that Article 24 prescribes to all intents and purposes the action already taken by the United States, so that the article may be regarded as declaratory, not amendatory, of international law in so far as the United States is concerned.

From the action of the United States in the case of the Lena, and from the provisions of Article 24 of Convention 13, it is clear that the effect of internment is to withdraw from the vessel so treated the immunity from local laws which by custom men-of-war enjoy. The United States allowed the Lena to display the Russian flag and to dress the ship on the name day of the Russian Emperor, but denied the vessel “the function of saluting and the right to receive salutes” because its “character as a warship

was in abeyance." According to the official commentary upon Convention 13, which was prepared by the distinguished French publicist, Professor Louis Renault, Article 24 is intended to assimilate the officers and crew of the interned ship to the officers and men of a belligerent army taking refuge in a neutral territory. He states: "In law their position is analogous to that of troops of a belligerent who seek refuge in neutral territory, and it has been agreed that the two cases should be controlled by one and the same rule.'




" 2



In the October, 1914, number of the JOURNAL (page 860), we concluded a series of editorial narratives of events in Mexico during the revolutionary period which started with the overthrow of Diaz by Madero in 1911. The recognition by the United States on October 19, 1915, of the de facto government presided over by General Venustiano Carranza as the chief executive makes it appropriate to set out the important events which have taken place since our last comment, which ended with the overthrow of General Huerta on July 20, 1914, and the occupation of Mexico City by the Constitutionalist Army on August 19, 1914. At that time Vera Cruz was still occupied by American troops

* 2 The full text of Mr. Renault's report on Article 24 of Convention 13 is printed in a comment in this JOURNAL for April, 1915, pp. 488-489.

1 The correspondence and documents referred to in this comment were transmitted by the President of the United States to the Senate in response to a resolution of January 6, 1916, requesting certain information relative to affairs in Mexico. They are printed as Senate Document No. 324, 64th Congress, 1st Session.



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