The Acting Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: I beg to enclose herewith for signature by you, should it meet with your approval, the draft of a proclamation32 prohibiting the shipment of arms and ammunition from the United States into Mexico.

The present proclamation differs somewhat from the one issued on October 19, 1915,33 in that it applies to the whole of Mexico and gives specific authority for United States military authorities to assist in its enforcement. This latter change is urged by the Secretary of War.

I have added a final paragraph to the proclamation, with the view to economize your time in the matter of making numerous exceptions to the provisions of the proposed embargo, and in order that the Department may have full authority in the handling of shipments of explosives for industrial and other purposes in Mexico. I may add that this draft has been approved by the Attorney General and by the Secretary of War, and that the latter has repeatedly asked that the proclamation be issued at an early date.

Inasmuch as the War Trade Board has relinquished its control over shipments of munitions to Mexico, and in view of the renewed activities of Villistas in the State of Chihuahua, and because of the receipt by the Department of a number of reports to the effect that munitions of war are being smuggled across the border for use by Villistas in Chihuahua and Yaqui Indians in Sonora, I strongly recommend that the proclamation be issued without delay.

Faithfully yours,

Frank L. Polk

Proclamation No. 1530, July 12, 1919, Declaring Unlawful the Exportation to Mexico of Arms or Munitions of War

By the President of the United States of America


Whereas, a Joint Resolution of Congress, approved March 14th, 1912, reads and provides as follows:—“That whenever the President shall find that in any American country conditions of domestic violence exist which are promoted by the use of arms or munitions of war procured from the United States, and shall make proclamation [Page 552] thereof, it shall be unlawful to export except under such limitations and exceptions as the President shall prescribe any arms or munitions of war from any place in the United States to such country until otherwise ordered by the President or by Congress;”34

And whereas, it is provided by Section II of the said Joint Resolution, “That any shipment of material hereby declared unlawful after such a proclamation, shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both;”34

And whereas, by an Act of Congress, approved June 15th, 1917, it is provided as follows:

“Whenever an attempt is made to export or ship from or take out of the United States, any arms or munitions of war, or other articles, in violation of law, or whenever there shall be known or probable cause to believe that any such arms or munitions of war, or other articles, are being or are intended to be exported, or shipped from, or taken out of the United States, in violation of law, the several collectors, naval officers, surveyors, inspectors of customs, and marshals, and deputy marshals of the United States, and every other person duly authorized for the purpose by the President, may seize and detain any articles or munitions of war about to be exported or shipped from, or taken out of the United States, in violation of law, and the vessels or vehicles containing the same, and retain possession thereof until released or disposed of as hereinafter directed. If upon due inquiry as hereinafter provided, the property seized shall appear to have been about to be so unlawfully exported, shipped from, or taken out of the United States, the same shall be forfeited to the United States.”35

And whereas, by the same Act of Congress, it is provided in Section 8 thereof as follows:

“The President may employ such part of the land or naval forces of the United States as he may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this title.”36

Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, acting under and by virtue of the authority conferred in me by the said Joint Resolution and Act of Congress, do hereby declare and proclaim that I have found that there exist in Mexico such conditions of domestic violence promoted by the use of arms or munitions of war procured from the United States as contemplated by the said Joint Resolution and Act of Congress; and I do hereby admonish all citizens of the United States and every person to abstain from every violation of the provisions of the Joint Resolution and Act of Congress above set forth, hereby made [Page 553] applicable to Mexico, and I do hereby warn them that all violations of such provisions will be rigorously prosecuted.

And I do hereby enjoin upon all officers of the United States, charged with the execution of the laws thereof, the utmost diligence in preventing violations of the said Joint Resolution and Act of Congress and this my Proclamation issued thereunder and in bringing to trial and punishment any offenders against the same. And I direct and authorize the officers and enlisted men of the Army of the United States to observe like diligence in preventing such violations and in causing offenders to be turned over to the appropriate civil authorities for trial and punishment according to law.

And I do hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the power of prescribing exceptions and limitations to the application of the said Joint Resolution of March 14, 1912, as made effective by this my Proclamation issued thereunder.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

[seal] Done in the District of Columbia this twelfth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and nineteen and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-fourth.

Woodrow Wilson

By the President:
Frank L Polk
Acting Secretary of State.

  1. Not printed; substantially the same as signed proclamation, infra.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 780.
  3. 37 Stat. 630.
  4. 37 Stat. 630.
  5. 40 Stat. 223.
  6. 40 Stat. 225.