Executive Order 258

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All officials of the Government, civil, military, and naval, are hereby directed not only to observe the President's proclamation of neutrality in the pending war between Russia and Japan, but also to abstain from either action or speech which can legitimately cause irritation to either of the combatants. The Government of the United States represents the people of the United States, not only in the sincerity with which it is endeavoring to keep the scales of neutrality exact and even, but in the sincerity with which it deplores the breaking out of the present war, and hopes that it will end at the earliest possible moment and with the smallest possible loss to those engaged. Such a war inevitably increases and inflames the susceptibilities of the combatants to anything in the nature of an injury or slight by outsiders. Too often combatants make conflicting claims as to the duties and obligations of neutrals, so that even when discharging these duties and obligations with scrupulous care it is difficult to avoid giving offense to one or the other party. To such unavoidable causes of offense, due to the performance of national duty, there must not be added any avoidable causes. It is always unfortunate to bring old-world antipathies and jealousies into our life, or by speech or conduct to excite anger and resentment toward our nation in friendly foreign lands; but in a government employee, whose official position makes him in some sense the representative of the people, the mischief of such actions is greatly increased. A strong and self-confident nation should be peculiarly careful not only of the rights but of the susceptibilities of its neighbors; and nowadays all the nations of the world are neighbors one to the other. Courtesy, moderation, and self-restraint should mark international, no less than private, intercourse.

All the officials of the Government, civil, military, and naval, are expected so to carry themselves both in act and in deed as to give no cause of just offense to the people of any foreign and friendly power—and with all mankind we are now in friendship.


Signature of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
White House,
March 10, 1904.

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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).