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Trading With the Enemy - August 4, 1917
August 4th, 1917.
Midland Linseed Products Company,
In reply to your letter of the first I beg leave to say that we are now engaged in a war against Germany and her allies with our allies, England, France, Italy, and Russia, and our aim is to win. As a part of the war program it is deemed essential to deprive Germany of all kinds of feed and food supplies. During the last two or three years much food and feed supplies shipped to neutral countries have iinured [sic] to the special benefit of Germany. The question as to the shipment of your products abroad is not now, under war conditions, a question of what you would like, but what guaranty the foreign governments, or foreign consignees, can give this country that such shipments will not inure to the benefit of Germany. Such being the case, you can readily see that I am not in a position, as a loyal American citizen, who has the interest of the country at heart and wants to see it succeed in this war, to urge the Government to permit your products to be shipped abroad just because you would like a large profit. The door is open to you to ship your products without limit to our allies in Europe, and I have no doubt they would be glad to secure the same at a reasonable price. I trust your zeal to make big profits will not overcome your spirit of patriotism. No provision has been made by the Government to pay compensation for such speculative or other profits as you have in view and, in my judgment, no provision will ever be made for the payments of such speculative profit. If the Government, upon investigation, finds that the shipment of your products would inure to the benefit of the enemy, it would be equivalent to trading with the enemy, and because you can not have this privilege of indirectly trading with the enemy under the embargo act, there can be no ground, legal or moral, to ask for compensation. Your products are not the only ones that come within the embargo. A large number of other products, too numerous to mention in this letter, are also under the embargo. My advice to you is to ship your goods to the countries of the Allies. In doing so you will get a fair price for the same and in that way you will aid our country in carrying on the war.
Knute Nelson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. 114.I.13.2F Box 25