File No. 774/309 A.

The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Jackson.1

No. 29.]

Sir: The Government of the United States has, at different times during the past year, instructed its diplomatic representatives at London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, The Hague, Peking, and Lisbon to bring to the notice of the Government to which each is accredited the proposal of the United States to conduct a joint and impartial investigation of the scientific and material conditions of the opium trade and opium habit in the Far East which affect the possessions and direct interests of those Governments in that part of the world.

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The initial inquiries made having elicited favorable responses, further instructions were then issued to the several-named diplomatic representatives expressing the desire of the United States to be informed whether the Governments concerned preferred to investigate the opium question by means of a conference or through a joint commission.

In their replies all the Governments accepted the proposal in principle and expressed a preference for a joint commission.

No Government having expressed any preference as to the date or place of the meeting of the commission, the Government of the United States found itself invited to make such suggestion, and it thereupon named January 1, 1909, and Shanghai. This time and place were found agreeable and convenient to the other powers concerned.

Our idea, which has been conveyed to all the Governments thus far approached, and which has already been concurred in by several of them, is that each Government’s commission should proceed independently and immediately with the investigation of the opium question on behalf of its respective country, with a view, first, to devising means to limit the use of opium in the possessions of that country; secondly, to ascertain the best means of suppressing the opium traffic, if such now exists among the nationals of that Government in the Far East; and thirdly, to be in a position so that when the commission meets in Shanghai the representatives of the various powers may be prepared to cooperate and to offer jointly or severally definite suggestions of measures which their respective Governments may adopt for the gradual suppression of opium cultivation, traffic, and use within their eastern possessions, thus assisting China in her purpose of eradicating the evil from her Empire. It may also be of interest to the Government of Persia to learn that the President has appointed as commissioners on the part of the United States the Right Rev. Charles H. Brent, missionary bishop to the Philippine Islands; Dr. Charles D. Tenney, Chinese secretary of the American legation at Peking; and Dr. Hamilton Wright, eminent in medical and scientific research, and Congress has made ample appropriation for the purpose.

Now that all the Governments approached have signified their willingness to participate in this investigation, the Government of the United States entertains the hope that this decision will become unanimous by the acceptance of the suggestion by all the powers concerned. Accordingly our representatives at St. Petersburg and Constantinople have this day also been similarly instructed to invite the Governments to which they are respectively accredited to take part in this investigation, and if the cooperation of these powers, as well as that of Persia, is obtained, the movement, it is believed, will be unanimous.

You are therefore instructed to take the earliest opportunity to express to the minister for foreign affairs the sincere gratification with which the Government of the United States would learn that the Government of Persia viewed with satisfaction the contemplated effort to suppress the opium vice in the Far East, and that it would find it convenient to join the Governments of the United States, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal in the proposed joint opium commission.

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As the date of the meeting is but four months hence, you will see the necessity of endeavoring to obtain a reply from the Persian Government at an early date, and upon its receipt you will inform the department of the tenor by telegraph.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.
  1. Mutatis mutandis to the American embassies at Constantinople. No. 415, and St. Petersburg, No. 172.↩