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Memorandum, by the Acting Secretary of State of a Conversation With President Wilson, October 23, 1914, 8:30 p. m.

From my conversation with the President I gathered the following impressions as to his views concerning bank credits of belligerent governments in contradistinction to a public loan floated in this country.

There is a decided difference between an issue of government bonds, which are sold in open market to investors, and an arrangement for easy exchange in meeting debts incurred in trade between a government and American merchants.

The sale of bonds draws gold from the American people. The purchasers of bonds are loaning their savings to the belligerent government, and are, in fact, financing the war.

The acceptance of Treasury notes or other evidences of debt in payment for articles purchased in this country is merely a means of facilitating trade by a system of credits which will avoid the clumsy and impractical method of cash payments. As trade with belligerents is legitimate and proper it is desirable that obstacles, such an [as?] interference with an arrangement of credits or easy method of exchange, should be removed.

The question of an arrangement of this sort ought not to be submitted to this Government for its opinion, since it has given its views on loans in general, although an arrangement as to credits has to do with a commercial debt rather than with a loan of money.

The above are my individual impressions of the conversation with the President, who authorized me to give them to such persons as were entitled to hear them, upon the express understanding that they were my own impressions and that I had no authority to speak for the President or the Government.

Robert Lansing

Substance of above conveyed to Willard Straight at Metropolitan Club, 8:30 p. m. October 24, 1914.


Substance of above conveyed to R. L. Farnham9 at the Department, 10:30 a. m., October 26, 1914.

  1. Representative of the National City Bank.