United States. President (1913-1921 : Wilson).

Appropriation to pay for the Danish West Indies. Message from the President of the United States inviting the attention of the Congress to the necessity for making an appropriation of $25,000,000 as payment for the purchase of the Danish West Indies .. (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryUnited States. President (1913-1921 : Wilson)Appropriation to pay for the Danish West Indies. Message from the President of the United States inviting the attention of the Congress to the necessity for making an appropriation of $25,000,000 as payment for the purchase of the Danish West Indies .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)
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64th Congress ) SENATE J Document

2dSessi<y,i f oi2.i>Axi!. ^ No. 686



APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR THE
DANISH WEST INDIES



MESSAGE

FROM THE

President of the United States

INVITING THE ATTENTION OF THE CONGRESS TC

THE NECESSITY FOR MAKING AN APPROPRIATION

OF $25,000,000 AS PAYMENT FOR THE PURCHASE

OF THE DANISH WEST INDIES




January 23, 1 9 1 7. — Read, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations,
and ordered to be printed



WASHINGTON

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

1917






D, of D.
FEB 3 1917






^ APPROPRIATIONS TO PAY FOR THE DANISH WEST INDIES.



To the Senate and House of Representatives :

I transmit herewith a report by the Secretary of State, with ac-
companying papers, concerning the treaty signed August 4, 191G,
betAveen the United States and Denmark for the cession to the Ignited
States of the Danish West Indian Ishmds and the obligations of the
United States under the convention.

The attention of the Congress is especially invited to the neces-
sity for action being taken by the Congress during its present ses-
sion that will enable the Government of the United States to
discharge its conventional obligation to pay to the Government of
Denmark the sum of $25,000,000. which, by Article V of the con-
vention, the Ignited States agrees to pay in ' full consideration of
the cession within 90 days from the date of the exchange of the
ratifications of the convention. This exchange of ratifications Avas
effected on January 17, 1917. so that the good faith of the United
States requires the payment of the $25,000,000 not later than April
17, 1917. and to do this, provision by the Congress during its present
session for the payment is imperative.

WOODROW WiLSOX.

The White House,

January 22, 1917.

The President : The undersigned, the Secretary of State, has
the honor to transmit herewith a copy of the English text of a con-
vention between the United States and Denmark, signed at the city
of New York, August 4, 1916, together with copies of the notes ex-
changed between the high contracting parties in pursuance of the
Senate resolution of September 9, 191(), giving the advice and con-
sent of that body to the ratification of the convention. The exchange
of the ratifications of the convention took place on January 17, 1917,
and the convention is, therefore, now in force as a mutually binding
obligation between the two countries concerned. By article 1 of
this convention Denmark cedes to the United States, in return for a
money payment, all territory, dominion, and sovereignty of Den-
mark in the West Indies, including the islands of St. Thomas, St.
John, and St. Croix, together with the adjacent islands and rocks.
The succeeding articles specify in detail certain terms and conditions
regarding the cession. By article 5 the ITnited States, in full con-
sideration of the cession, agrees to pay within 90 days from the date
of exchange of the ratifications, in the city of Washington, to the
diplomatic representative or other agent of Denmark duly author-
ized to receive the money, the sum of $25,000,000 in gold coin of the
United States. This amount is therefore due from the United States
to Denmark within the period ending April 17 next.

3



4 APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR THE DANISH WEST INDIES.

This convention is responsive to the conviction of both Govern-
ments, as well as of the people of the islands, that the Danish West
Indies should belong to the United States. This conviction, as is
well known, has been manifested in earlier treaties for the transfer
of these islands to the United States. Without entering upon any-
extended historical review of the negotiations of these earlier
treaties, it may be pointed out that the first negotiations for the
purchase of the islands were initiated by Secretary Sew^ard during
the administration of President Lincoln, and before the close of the
Civil War, culminating in the convention signed at Copenhagen
October 24, 1867, during the administration of President Johnson,
for the cession of the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. It is the
opinion of students of the subject that this convention was brought
about through the conviction of the United States gained by its
naval operations during the Ci^^l War, of the need of a naval coal-
ing, supply, and repair station in the Caribbean Sea, in order that
the United States might be placed on a footing with other great
powers owning islands in those waters. This conviction, no doubt,
was strengthened by the fact that the United States emerged from
that war as a maritime power, to whom a good harbor and depot in
the West Indies had become a matter of so great importance, if not
of necessity, that the United States could not wish to see the Danish
West Indies fall into the hands of another power.

Although the plebiscite in St. Thomas and St. John held under
the treaty of 1867 was overwhelmingly in favor of the cession, and
the treaty was promptly approved by the Danish Eigsdag and
ratified and signed by the King, and although the period for ratifi-
cation was extended from time to time to April 14, 1870, the Senate
Committee on Foreign Eelations took no action until March 24,
1870, when Senator Sumner reported it adversely and the Senate
acquiesced in that opinion.

Prior to the Spanish War overtures were again made for the
cession of the islands — this time initiated by the Danish Govern-
ment. During the Spanish War the question of the purchase of the
islands was further agitated. Concurrently with the discussion of
the Isthmian Canal and the protection of the islands obtained from
Spain, a second treaty for the purchase of the Danish West Indies
was signed at Washington, January 24, 1902. In reporting this
treaty favorably to the Senate, Senator Cullom, of the Committee
on Foreign Eelations, stated:

These islands, together with Porto Rico, are of great importance in a
strategic way, whetlier the strategy he military or commercial. St. Thomas is
the natural point of call for all European trade bound to the West Indies,
Central America, or northern South America. These islands, together with
Porto Rico, form the northeastern corner of the Caribbean Sea, and are of
great importance in connection with the American isthmus, where a canal will
be constructed between the Atlantic and Pacific. They are of first importance
in connection with our relations to the region of the Orinoco and the Amazon
and with our control of the Windward Passage.

The treaty was approved by the United States Senate February 17,
1902, but failed of ratification by a tie vote in the upper house of the
Danish Eigsdag.

All of the reasons upon which the two prior treaties were based,
whether strategic, economic, or political, are of more force to-day
than in previous years. There can be no question as to the value of



APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR THE DANISH WEST INDIES, 5

St. Thomas Harbor as a naval port, with its circular configuration,
ample roadsteads, protection from preA^ailing winds and seas, and
facilities for fortifications. Moreover, the advantages of the posses-
sion of a naval base off the entrance of the Panama Canal and near
the island of Porto Eico are self-evident.

The commercial value of the islands can not be doubted. Lying
in close proximity to many of the passages into the Caribbean Sea, the
use of St. Thomas Harbor as a supply station for merchant ships
plying between the United States and South America, and for vessels
in other trades, is of great importance. The existing modern harbor
works, floating docks, marine slip and wharves provided with elec-
tric cranes, oil reservoirs, coal depots, fresh-water tanks, machine
shops, and warehouses contribute to the commercial advantages of
St. Thomas Harbor as a port of call and transshipment for ships in
the Central and South American trades.

The political importance of extending American jurisdiction over
the islands is not to be oA^erlooked. The Caribbean is within the pe-
culiar sphere of influence of the United States, especially since the
completion of the Panama Canal, and the possibility of a change of
sovereignty of any of the islands now^ under foreign jurisdiction is of
grave concern to the United States. Moreover, the Monroe doctrine,
a settled national policy of the United States, would have caused this
country to look with disfavor upon the transfer of sovereignt}^ of
the Danish West Indies to any other European nation.

In view of these considerations, the treat}" of cession of these is-
lands to the United States is a matter of no small moment to this
country. I do not hesitate, therefore, to recommend that the Con-
gress be urged to take action during the present session to enable this
Government to discharge its conventional obligation to Denmark
by the paj^ment to the Government of Denmark of the sum of $25,-
000,000 by April 17 next.

IJespectfully submitted.

Egbert Lansing.

Department of State,

Washingtoji, January 22, 1917.



Jan u ART 3, 1917.
Sir: I ha^■e the honor to inform you that the Senate of the United
States, by its resolution of ratification, has advised and consented
to the ratification of the convention between the United States and
Denmark ceding to the United States the Danish West Indian Is-
lands, with the following provisos :

Provided, Jioirever, That it is declared by the Senate that in advising and
consenting to the ratification of tlie said convention, such advice and consent
are given witli the understanding, to be expressed as a part of tlie instrument
of ratification, that such Convention shall not be taken and construed by the
High Contracting Parties as imposing any trust upon the United States with
respect to any funds belonging to the Danisli National Church in the Danish
West Indian Islands, or in which the said church may have an interest nor as
imposing upon the ITnited States any duty or responsibility with respect to
the management of any property belonging to said church, beyond protecting
said church in the possession and use of church property as stated in said
Convention, in the same manner and to the same extent only as other churches
shall be protected in the possession and use of their several properties : And



6 APPROPRIATIOX TO PAY FOE THE DANISH WEST INDIES.

provided further. Tliat llie Senate :ulvis(>s and cons-eiits to tlie ratilication of
the said Convention on condition that the attitu<le of the United Stales in tliis
partiftdar, as set fortli in tlie alxive iiroviso. be made tlie subject of an ex-
clian.iie of notes between tiie (Jovernnients of tlie two Hi.uli Contractin.u' Parties,
so as to make it plain that this condition is understood and accepted by the
two Governments, the purpose hereof beiiiR to brin,u; the said Convention clearly
within the Constitutional powers of the United States with respect to church
establishment and -freedom of reiiftion.

In view of this resolution of the Senate 1 Itsive the honor to state
that it is nnderstood and accepted by the Government of the United
States and the (Tovernment of Denmark that the provisions of this
convention referrinii- to the property and funds bek)noin<2: to the
Danish national church in the Danish West Indian islands shall not
be taken and construed by the high contracting parties as imposing
any trust u.pon the Ignited States with respect to any funds l)el()ng-
ing to the Danish national church in the Danish AA'est Indian
islands, or in which the said church may have an interest, nor as
imposing upon the United States any duty or responsibility with re-
spect to the management of any property belonging to said church,
beyond protecting said church in the possession and use of church
]:;roperty as stated in said convention, in the same manner and to the
same extent (mly as other churches shall l)e protected in the posses-
sion and use of their several i^roperties.

I trust that your Government will, in a formal reply to tbis com-
mimication, accept this understanding as to the meaning and con-
struction of the provisions of said convention in accordance with the
foregoing resolution of the Senate.

Accept, sir, the reneAved assurances of my highest consideration.

T-vOHEirr Laxstxc;.

Mr. CoxsTANTix Brux,

Minister of I)enm((rl\



The Daxish Legatiox,
Washington, D. (\, January 3, 1917.
Sir: In reply to your communication of this day concerning the
relation of the T"'nited States to the rights of the Established Church
in the Danish West Indies and to the provisions referring to this
point in the convention between the United States and Denmark
ceding to the States the Danish West Indian Islands. I have the
honor to state that it is understood and accepted by the (jo\ernment
of Denmark and the Government of the United States that the pro-
visions of this convention referring to the property and funds be-
longing to the Danish National Church in the Danish West Indian
Islands shall not be taken and construed by the high contracting
parties as imposing any trust upon the United States with respect
to any funds belonging to the Danish National Church in the Danish
West Indian Islands or in which the said church may have an inter-
est, nor as imposing upon the United States any duty or responsi-
bility with respect to the management of any property belonging to
said church beyond protecting said church in the possession and use
of church property, as stated in said convention, in the same manner
and to the same extent only as other churches shall be protected in
the possession and use of theii- several i^roperties.



APPEOPKIATION TO PAY FOE THE DANISH WEST INDIES. 7

It will be evident from the above that the Danish Government
accept the understanding as to the meaning and construction of the
]>rovisions of the said convention in accordance with the resolution
of the United States Senate concerning the question of the rights of
the church in the islands.

I have the honor to be, sir, Avith the highest consideration,
Your most obedient and humble servant,

C. Brun.
The honorable Robert Lansing,

Secretary of State of the United States.



CONFIDENTIAL.

HE SENATE— IN E:
1st Session. j TIVE SESSION. \ Document D.



64th Congress, 1 IN THE SENATE— IN EXECU- [ Executive



CESSION OF THE DANISH WEST INDIES.



MESSAGE

FROM THE



PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,



TRANSMITTING



A CONVENTION BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND DENMARK
RESPECTING THE CESSION OF THE DANISH WEST INDIAN
ISLANDS TO THE UNITED STATES, SIGNED AT NEW YORK,
AUGUST 4, 1916.



August 8, 1916. — Message read; convention read the first time and referred to the
Committee on Foreign Relations, and, together with the message, ordered to be
printed in confidence for the use of the Senate.

.January 23, 1917.— Injunction of secrecy removed.



To the Senate:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to
its ratification, I transmit herewith a convention between the United
States and Denmark respectmg the cession of the Danish West
Indian Islands to the United States, signed at New York on August
4, 1916.

I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, a declaration
made hy the Secretary of State at the time of the signmg of the con-
vention ''that the Government of the United States will not object
to the Danish Government extending their political and economic
interests to the whole of Greenland."

The attention of the Senate is mvited to the recommendation made
in the accompanying report of the Acting Secretary of State that the
Senate will provide for the retaining of the injunction of secrecy on
the convention until such time as the two Governments shall agree
to make it public.

WooDEOW Wilson.

The White House,

Washington, August 8, 1916.



10 cession of the danish west indies.

Depabtmext of State,
WasJiin^on. Avgv.st 7 . 1916.
The Peesedext:

Tlie undersigned, the Acting Secretary of State, has the honor to lay
before the President, with a view to its transmission to the Senate,
if his judgment approve thereof, to receive the advice and consent of
that body to its ratification, a convention between the United States
and Denmark respecting the cession of the Danish West Indian
Islands to the United States, signed at New York on August 4. 1916.

The undersigned has also the honor to submit, for the information
of the Senate, a declaration made by the Secretary of State at the
time of the signing of the convention '"that the Government of the
United States of America will not object to the Danish Government
extending their pohtical and economic interests to the whole of
Greenland.'"

As the Danish Government has requested that publicity of the
terms of the convention be withheld until such time as the two
Governments shall agree to promulgate them, the undersigned begs
to suggest that it be recommended to the Senate that in giving its
advice and consent to the ratification of the convention, its resolu-
tion include a provision that the injunction of secrecy shall remain
on the convention until the i^wr. G*^ vfrmiients shall agree to make it
pubhc.

Respectfully submitted.

Fkaxk L. Polk.

Accompaniments :

Treaty with Demnark.

Declaration bv the Secretarv of State.



DECLARATION BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

In proceeding this dav to the signature of the convention respecting
the cession of the Danish West Indian Islands to the United States of
America, the undersigned Secretarv of State of the United States of
America, duly authorized by his Government, has the honor to de-
clare that the Government of the United States of America will not
object to the Danish Government extending their pohtical and
economic interests to the whole of Greenland.

('Signed; Robert Lansing.

New York, August 4, 1916.



convention between his ]VL4.JESTY the king of DENMARK AND
THE CNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESPECTING THE CESSION OF THE
DANISH WEST-INDIAN ISLANDS.

The United States of America and His Majesty the King of Den-
mark being desirous of confirming the good understanding which
exists between them, have to that end appointed as Plenipotentiaries:

The President of the United States: Mr. Robert Lansing, Secretary
of State of the L'nited States,



CESSION OF THE DAXISH WEST INDIES. 11

and His Majesty the King of Denmark: Mr. Constantiii Brun, His
Majesty's Envoy extraordinary and J^Iinister plenipotentiary at
Washington.

v.'ho, havmg mutuaUv exhibited their full powers which were found
to be in due form/have agreed upon the following articles:

Article 1.

^ His Majesty the Kmg of Denmark by this convention cedes to the
United States all territory, dominion and sovereignty, possessed,
asserted or claimed by Denmark m the West Indies mcludmg the
Islands of Saint Thomas, Samt John and Saint Croix together with
the adjacent islands and rocks.

This cession uicludes the right of property in aU pubhc. govern-
ment, or crown lands, public buildings, wharves, ports, harbors, forti-
fications, barracks, pubhc funds, rights, franchises, and privileges,
and aU other public property of every kind or description now belong-
ing to Denmark together with all appurtenances thereto.

In tliis cession shaU also be included any government archives,
records, papers or documents wliich relate to the cession or the rights
and property of the inhabitants of the Islands ceded, and wiiich may
now be existmg either in the Islands ceded or in Denmark. Such
archives and records shall be carefully preserved, and authenticated
copies thereof, as may be required shall be at aU times given to the
United States Government or the Danish Government, as the case
may be, or to such properly authorized persons as may apply for
them.

Article 2.

Denmark guarantees that the cession made by the preceding
article is free and unencumbered by any reservations, privileges,
francliises, grants, or possessions, held by any governments, corpo-
rations, s}Tidicates, or individuals, except as herein mentioned. But
it is understood that this cession does not in any respect impair
private rights wliich by law belong to the peaceful possession of
property of all kinds by private incUviduals of whatsoever nation-
ality, by municipaUties, pubhc or private estabhsliments, ecclesias-
tical or civic bodies, or any other associations having legal capacity
to acc^uire and possess property in the Islands ceded.

Tlie congregations belonging to the Danish National Church shall
retain the unthsturbed use of the chmx-hes which are now used by
them, together with the pai-sonages appertaining thereunto and other
appurtenances, including the funds allotted to the churches.

Article 3.

It is especialh' agreed, however, that:

1) The arms and mihtary stores existing in the Islands at the time
of the cession and belonging to the Danish Government shall remain
the property of that Government and shall, as soon as circumstances
will permit, be removed by it, unless they, or parts thereof, may have
been bought by the Government of the United States: it being how-
ever imderstood that flags and colors, uniforms and such arms or



12 CESSION OF THE DANISH WEST INDIES.

military articles as are marked as being the property" of the Danish
Government shall not be included in such purchase.

2) The movables, especially . silver plate and pictures which may
be found in the government buildings in the islands ceded and belong-
ing to the Danish Government shall remain the property of that
Government and shall, as soon as circumstances wiU permit, be
removed by it.

3) The pecuniary claims now held by Denmark against the colonial
treasuries of the islands ceded are altogether extinguished in conse-
quence of this cession and the United States assumes no responsi-
bility whatsoever for or in connection with these claims. Excepted
is however the amount due to the Danish Treasury in account current
with the Yfest-Indian colonial treasuries pursuant to the making up
of accounts in consequence of the cession of the islands; should on
the other hand tliis final accounting shovv^ a balance in favour of the
West-Indian colonial treasuries, the Danish Treasury shall pay that
amount to the colonial treasuries.

4) The United States will maintain the following grants, conces-
sions and licenses, given by the Danish Government, in accordance
with the terms on which they are given:

a. The concession granted to "Det vestindiske Kompagni" (the
West-Indian Company) Ltd. bv the communications from the
Ministry of Finance of January 18th, 1913, and of April 16th, 1913,
relative to a license to embank, drain, deepen and utilize certain
areas in St. Thomas Harbor and preferential rights as to connnercial,
industrial or shipping establishments in the said Harbor,

b. Agreement of August 10th and 14th, 1914, between the munici-

Eality of St. Thomas and St. John and "Det vestmdiske Kompagni"
td. relative to the supply of the city of Charlotte Anialie with electric
lighting.

c. Concession of March 12th, 1897, to "The Floating Dock Com-
pany of St. Thomas Ltd.", subsequently transferred to ''The St.
Thomas Engineering and Coaling Company Ltd." relative to a
floating dock in St. Thomas Harbor, in which concession the mainte-
nance, extension, and alteration of the then existing repairing slip
are reserved.

d. Royal Decree Nr. 79 of November 30th, 1914, relative to the
subsidies from the colonial treasuries of St. Thomas and Sainte Croix
to "The West India and Panama Telegraph Company Ltd."

e. Concession of November 3rd, 1906, to K. B. Hey to establish and
operate a telephone system on St. Thomas island, which concession
has subsequently been transferred to the "St. Thomas Telefon-
selskab"Ltd.

f. Concession of February 28tli, 1913, to the municipality of Sainte
Croix to establish and operate a telephone sj'stem in Sainte Croix.

g. Concession of July 16th, 1915, to Ejnar Svendsen, an Engmeer,
for the construction and operation of an electric light plant in the
city of Christiansted, Sainte Croix.

h. Concession of June 20th, 1904, for the estabhshment of a
Danish West-Indian bank of issue. This bank has for a period of 30
years acquired the monopoly to issue bank-notes m the Danish
West-India islands against the payment to the Danish Treasury of a
tax amounting to ten percent of its annual profits.



CESSION OF THE DANISH WEST INDIES. 13

i. Guarantee according to the Danish supplementary Budget Law
for the financial year 1908-1909 relative to the St. Thomas Harbor's
four percent loan of 1910.

5) Whatever sum shall be due to the Danish Treasury by private


1

Online LibraryUnited States. President (1913-1921 : Wilson)Appropriation to pay for the Danish West Indies. Message from the President of the United States inviting the attention of the Congress to the necessity for making an appropriation of $25,000,000 as payment for the purchase of the Danish West Indies .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)