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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
DIVISION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
THE TREATIES OF 1785, 1799
As Interpreted in Opinions of Attorneys General, Decisions of
JAMES BROWN SCOTT
On January 31, 1917, the German Government informed the United States that
from February 1, 1917, all sea traffic will be stopped with every available weapon and without further notice in the following blockade zones [describing them in detail] around Great Britain, France, Italy and in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On the third day of February, the President of the United States addressed both Houses of Congress in joint session, and, after stating in detail the relations between Germany and the United States and the apparent intention on the part of the German Government to deprive the United States of the rights which neutrals possessed upon the high seas, he informed the Congress that he had
directed the Secretary of State to announce to his Excellency the German Ambassador that all diplomatic relations between the United States and the German Empire are severed, and that the American Ambassador at Berlin will immediately be withdrawn; and, in accordance with this decision, to hand to his Excellency
his passports. The passports were accordingly handed to his Excellency the German Ambassador the same day, and diplomatic relations between the two countries were thus severed.
There are three treaties which in whole or in part in the opinion of the German Empire and of the United States affected their international relations. The treaties in question are: First, the treaty of amity and commerce concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on September 10, 1785; secondly, the treaty of amity and commerce concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on July 11, 1799 ; and, thirdly, the treaty of commerce and navigation concluded between Prussia and the United States of America on May 1, 1828.
These treaties have been held by the Governments of the contracting parties to apply not only to Prussia, but to the North German Confederation, of which Prussia was the leading member, and also to the