THE REVISED neutrality law has been signed and has gone into effect today; and I have also, under it, issued a proclamation defining a combat area, described in latitude and longitude.
In plain English, the chief result is this: From now on, no American ships may go to belligerent ports, British, French, and German, in Europe or Africa as far south as the Canary Islands. This is laid down in the law, and there is no discretion in the matter.
By proclaiming a combat area I have set out the area in which the actual operations of the war appear to make navigation of American ships dangerous. This combat area takes in the whole Bay of Biscay, except waters on the north coast of Spain so close to the Spanish coast as to make danger of attack unlikely. It also takes in all the waters around Great Britain, Ireland, and the adjacent islands including the English Channel. It takes in the whole North Sea, running up the Norwegian coast to a point south of Bergen. It takes in all of the Baltic Sea and its dependent waters.
In substance, therefore, American ships cannot now proceed to any ports in France, Great Britain, or Germany. This is by statute. By proclamation they cannot proceed to any ports in Ireland, nor to any port in Norway south of Bergen; nor to any ports in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, or Belgium, nor to Baltic ports. All neutral ports in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are open; likewise all ports, belligerent or neutral, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and dependent waters, and all ports in Africa south of the latitude of the Canaries (30 degree N.).
I have discretion to permit, within the spirit of the law, American shipping to operate in the combat areas, where there is necessity. It is intended by regulation to provide that ships and citizens who are now in combat areas may get out of them; and for the minimum of necessary official, relief, and other similar travel which must go on in such areas. It is also intended to provide that vessels which cleared for combat areas before the act and proclamation became effective shall be allowed to complete their voyages.
Combat areas may change with circumstances, and it may be found that areas now safe become dangerous, or that areas now troubled may later become safe. In this case the areas will be changed to fit the situation.
Coastwise American shipping is not affected by the bill nor is shipping between American republics or Bermuda or any of the Caribbean islands. In the main, shipping between the United States and Canada is also not affected.