Rear Admiral William F. Fullam, Commander, Division Two, United States Pacific Fleet, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
U.S.S. OREGON, Flagship [San Diego, California]
204. WFF/F 16th February, 1918
To: Secretary of the Navy (OPERATIONS).(INTELLIGENCE).
Subject: Importance of a “White List” in addition to black list in connection with trading with Mexican and Central American ports.1
References: (a) Comdr.Div.2 letter No.124,WFF-NS,5Feb.1918.
(b) Comdr.Div.2 personal letter to Captain Welles of
January 6, 1918, with enclosures.
(c) Comdr. Div.2 letter No.521 WFF/F of 26 Sept.,
1917 with enclosures.
(d) Comdr. Div.2 personal letter to Admiral Benson of
24 September, 1917.2
Enclosures: (Copies of references)
1. Referring to the above subject and references, I beg to again most earnestly advise that every possible effort be made not only to strictly enforce the blacklist for the greatest possible injury to German merchants and traders on the Pacific Coast – who have been using there influence against the United States – but also to improve the Commercial relations between the United States and Mexican and Central American ports, by encouraging trade with and diverting trade to merchants other than German.
2. It has been brought to the attention of the Division Commander that friendly relations with Mexican and Central American people will be in some measure jeopardized if German merchants are blacklisted, without providing some means by which goods may be shippedto and received by individuals or merchants other than those of German nationality at the different ports on the Pacific Coast.
3. It was with this object in view that the suggestion of a “White List” was made, in order that other than Germans may receive the profits of trade and that the people of Mexico and Central America may not suffer and be prejudiced against the United States by an embargo on imports to those countries.
4. Captain Hardy, Commanding H.M.S.Avoca,3 who recently visited San Diego and conferred with the Division Commander, by direction of Commodore Colomb, commanding British Forces in the Pacific4 recommended very strongly that some such scheme as a “White list”, or other means be immediately adopted, to facilitate trade with Mexican and Central American ports, it being his opinion that this device would checkmate any tendency for Germans to win the sympathy of these people and incite the latter against the United States.
5. Captain Hardy particularly mentioned Amapala and pointed out that freight being piled up on the docks at that port, some means should be immediately taken to expedite its transportation; and that the effect of such action by the United States would create a favorable impression with the people of Honduras.
/s/ W. F. Fullam.
Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 5. The place was taken from other of Fullam’s letters.
Footnote 1: A “Black List” was authorized by the Trading with the Enemy Act, which was passed days after the U.S. entered the war. For months thereafter, analysts at the War Trade Board cataloged German-controlled firms in Latin America. On 5 December the list was published and some 1,600 German-controlled firms were identified. These firms were accused “of aiding in fomenting rebellions, spreading propaganda and otherwise aiding the Central Powers. As a result, the activities of these firms were limited as far as the U.S. could do so unilaterally. U.S. firms could only deal with them under special license and all shipments to the U.S. by these firms were forbidden. The New York Times estimated that some $3 billion in capital was affected. As Fullam argues in this memo, this blacklist adversely affected the economies of parts of Central and South America. Argentina was the hardest hit as the blacklist designated a number of that nation’s prominent banks, corporations, and utilities for sanctions. Jamie Bisher, The Intelligence War in Latin America, 1914-1922 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2016), 102, 176. According to Bisher, despite the blacklist German-controlled firms retained their dominance in areas like drugs and hardware and avoided penalties by trading through intermediaries. Ibid., 176-77.
Footnote 2: The documents referenced here have not been found. RAdm. Roger T. Welles was chief of the office of naval intelligence; Adm. William S. Benson was chief of naval operations.
Footnote 3: Capt. Charles T. Hardy. Avoca was an armed merchant cruiser. Dreadnought Project, Accessed on 1 February 2018, http://www.dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/Charles_Talbot_Hardy.
Footnote 4: Commo. Philip H. Colomb, R.N.