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REFUSAL BY THE UNITED STATES TO RECOGNIZE IN A THIRD GOVERNMENT THE RIGHT OF PREEMPTION OF DANISH INTERESTS IN GREENLAND
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, May 20, 1920–5 p. m.
[Received May 20–1:27 p. m.] 826. Have received note from Foreign Office stating that Danish Minister has requested British Government to recognize Danish sovereignty over Greenland. Lord Curzon has informed Danish Minister
“That the geographical position of Greenland makes the question of ownership a matter of great importance to the British Empire as a whole and to Canada in particular, and that His Majesty's Government therefore feel obliged to attach to their recognition of Danish sovereignty over it the condition that in the event of Denmark wishing to dispose of the territory she will grant the British Empire the right of preemption. Subject to this condition His Majesty's Government are prepared at once to recognize officially the sovereignty of Denmark over Greenland."1
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Davis)
WASHINGTON, June 5, 1920–7 p. m. 590. Your 826, May 20, 5 p. m.
You may inform the Foreign Office that at the time the Treaty cession of Danish West Indies was signed, August 4, 1916, Govern
The British Government modified its position regarding recognition of Danish sorereignty over Greenland in the following note to the Danish Minister in Great Britain, September 6, 1920 (Legal Status of Eastern Greenland, P. C. I. J., Series C, No. 62, 26th sess., 1933, p. 48):
“Sir: With reference to your note No. 202/30/B.2. concerning the official recognition by His Majesty's Government of His Danish Majesty's sovereignty over Greenland which you were good enough to address to me on July 20th, I have the honour to inform you that His Majesty's Government recognize His Danish Majesty's sovereignty over Greenland, but in view of its geographical proximity to the Dominion of Canada, His Majesty's Government must reserve their right to be consulted, should the Danish Government at any time contemplate the alienation of this territory."
The complete text of the note of May 19, 1920, from the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the Danish Minister in Great Britain, which is summarized in the above telegram, is printed ibid., p. 46.
ment of United States declared that it would “not object to Danish Government extending their political and economic interests to the whole of Greenland".2
This Government, however, is not disposed to recognize the existence in a third government of a right of preemption to acquire this territory if the Danish Government should desire to dispose of it; and accordingly reserves for future consideration what position it may take in the event of a specific proposal for such a transfer. Repeat to Copenhagen.
The Chargé in Denmark (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State
COPENHAGEN, June 8, 1920.
[Received June 30.] Sir: Referring to the Department's telegram No. 590 June 5, 7 p.m. to the American Embassy in London concerning the attitude of the United States Government towards the right of preemption of a third party should the Danish Government desire to dispose of its territory in Greenland, I have the honor to inform you that I have to-day forwarded a memorandum in the sense of the Department's telegram above mentioned to the Danish Foreign Office. A copy of this memorandum 3 is enclosed herewith for the information of the Department. I have [etc.]
H. F. ARTHUR SCHOENFELD
The Secretary of State to the Danish Minister (Brun)
WASHINGTON, August 3, 1921. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 230, dated July 9, 1921, in which you inform me that under date of May 10, 1921, the Danish Ministry of the Interior, in pursuance of the Royal Ordinance of March 18, 1776, issued an order to the effect that Danish Trade Missions and Sealing (Whaling) Stations have been established on the east and west coasts of Greenland, so that the entire country has now been laid under the Danish administration of Greenland.
In its treaty with the Danish Government signed August 4, 1916, for the cession of the Danish West Indies, this Government stated to
the Danish Government that it would "not object to the Danish Government extending their political and economic interests to the whole of Greenland”. In this connection, however, I desire to state that owing to the importance of its geographical position, this Government would not be disposed to recognize the existence in third government of the right of preemption to acquire the interests of the Danish Government in this territory should the latter desire to transfer them. Accept [etc.]
CHARLES E. HUGHES
The Danish Minister (Brun) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, September 29, 1921. Sir: With further reference to your note to me of August 3d 1921 regarding Greenland, I beg to inform you as follows:
The text of your said note was, as I had the honor to advise you by my letter of August 8th,' submitted to the Danish Government by me and in reply the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs now instructs me to inform you that the Danish Government has no desire to transfer its interests in Greenland and has not given to any Government any right of preemption in Greenland or any part thereof. I have [etc.]
Memorandum by the Third Assistant Secretary of State (Bliss)
[WASHINGTON,] April 27, 1922. The Norwegian Minister called this morning in further reference to the matter which he had submitted in his letter to me of February 10th,* requesting to be informed of the meaning of the phrase "extending their political and economic interests," used in the declaration signed by the Secretary of State on August 4, 1916, relative to the extension of Danish authority in Greenland.
I told the Minister that I had not answered the letter in writing which he had kindly addressed to me, as I had already explained a short time before to the Counselor of the Legation, Mr. Steen, as I did not wish to seem disobliging in not furnishing the information he desired; that it did not seem possible to interpret to him the meaning of the phrase in question as it was unusual for a Government to explain to another government the phraseology of a treaty entered into with a third government. I therefore said to the Minister that I hoped he would appreciate the difficulty which his request presented. I explained fully that to interpret to him on his demand the meaning which the Government of the United States attributed to the terms of a treaty and a declaration made between it and the Danish Government would be inconsistent not only with custom but with the natural considerations of diplomatic usage. I pointed out that if a request came from the Danish Government for the interpretation of the phraseology of this treaty, the Department would then consider the answer to be made to that Government, but it could not do so to a third Government which was not a party to the arrangement.
In regard to the other request of the Minister, as to whether the phrase above quoted occurs in any other treaties of a like nature to which the United States is a signatory, I told him that so far as I had been able to ascertain this particular phrase had not been employed.
The Minister said that he quite understood the position which I took and that he appreciated the reasons why I had not been able to answer his question regarding the interpretation placed upon the phrase used in the communication of Mr. Lansing of August 4, 1916, above referred to. He further expressed his thanks for the trouble I had taken in the matter and for the information relative to the previous use of the same phrase in treaty relations of the United States.
R[OBERT] W[oods] B[liss]
ADOPTION OF A PLAN FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE MILITARY
839.00/2453 : Telegram
The Chargé in the Dominican Republic (Herod) to the Secretary
SANTO DOMINGO, January 3, 1922–2 p.m.
[Received January 4–11:12 a.m.] 1. The Military Governor ? sailed today for Washington with Commander Rose, Minister of Commerce. Last week the Admiral conferred with Jacinto de Castro, Federico Velasquez, Francisco Peynado, and Enrique Jimenez to (obtain?) agreement on plans of withdrawal and of warrant for Guardia [Nacional]. This conference proved fruitless.
The Secretary of the Navy (Denby) to the Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, 30 January, 1922. Sir: Referring to our Conference of this date, I recommend that the Military Governor and the American Minister be instructed to return to Santo Domingo, and to call together, upon their return, for conference, Representatives of all political factions in the Republic and other representative Dominicans; that the American representatives be instructed to advise the Dominican leaders that this Government is unwilling to permit present conditions to continue any longer, and to inform them that, unless they now request the issue of a call for election, and agree to participate in the elections, the Proclamation of June 14, 1921,3 will be withdrawn and the Military Government will then continue until such time as the urgent public works have been completed and an adequate Dominican Constabulary is functioning.
1 For previous correspondence concerning the withdrawal of the American forces, see Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. 1, pp. 834 ff.
* Rear Admiral S. S. Robison.