The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: Mr. House will call your attention to a suggestion which was made to me by one of the South American Representatives and I am inclined to think there is some force in it. You have not failed to notice the increasing urgency with which the neutral nations are presenting the idea of mediation or of some form of protections from the burdens of this war. The sentiment is unanimous among the South American countries that something ought to be done to protect the neutral nations if the war is to continue. The same idea has been presented by some of the neutral nations of Europe. A recent dispatch says that the kings of Norway, Sweden and Denmark are to meet for the purpose of considering what can be done to lessen these burdens. The Venezuelan Minister yesterday handed me a suggestion to the effect that you call a meeting of all of the neutral nations to be held in Washington for the purpose of considering the proposition to be submitted later to a convention in which all the nations, neutral and belligerent, will be represented. I think, however, that the idea of Mr. House, which I have mentioned, is the most feasible one, namely, that you invite all the nations, belligerent and neutral, to send representatives to a conference to be held in Washington for the purpose of considering ways and means by which the burdens borne by the neutral nations may be minimized with the consent and agreement of the belligerent nations. The belligerents could not take exception of [to] it, were it understood that the changes were to be made through agreement with the belligerents, and I am sure it would appeal to all the neutral nations. The one who suggested this plan had in mind the [Page 183] possibility of its opening the way to mediation. He thinks that it would give you an opportunity to make an address of welcome which might be helpful in advancing the cause of mediation without directly referring to it. He thinks that the coming together of these representatives, even for the consideration of questions growing out of the war and yet not involving the subject of mediation might lay the foundation for some coming together of the belligerent nations. I am very much impressed with the idea and with the possibilities for good. It seemed to commend itself to Mr. House also, although he only had time to think of it for a moment. It is at his suggestion that I bring the matter up this evening in order that you may talk with him about it more fully and let me know your impressions.

With assurances [etc.]

W. J. Bryan