861.002/46½

The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: Referring to my personal and confidential letter to you under date of July 25,—the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Baron Stürmer, who is still President of the Council of Ministers, does not seem to have the respect of any of the prominent Russians whom I have met. His appointment is decidedly a reactionary victory. . . .

The generally accepted theory of Sazonoff’s removal and Stürmer’s appointment is that the former promulgated a statement concerning the autonomy of Poland with the approval of the Emperor, but without submitting same to the Council of Ministers of which Stürmer was President. That gave offense to Stürmer and his colleagues who complained to the Emperor who thereupon sent for Sazonoff and directed him to submit the plan to his colleagues in the Ministry which Sazonoff declined to do, stating that that would subject him to humiliation in the event they should insist upon a change. Whether that was the cause or not, however, it is generally believed that the reactionaries are in the saddle and were looking for an opportunity to unhorse Sazonoff who is looked upon as a liberal. In addition to that, Sazonoff was said to be under the influence of England and the same charge is made against the Minister of Finance, Mr. Bark, who has just returned from a visit to France and England, and whose resignation is said to be imminent. Baron Stürmer is said to have remarked after learning of the first victory or two of General Brousiloff in Galicia, “One or two more such victories and we can do away with the Duma”. Whether these reports are true remains to be proven. There is no doubt, however, that the liberal or progressive element in Russia is greatly disappointed and chagrined at the removal of Sazonoff and the appointment of Stürmer.

I think in a former letter I stated that while the loyalty of Stürmer had never been questioned, that he and the reactionaries generally [Page 319]were more disposed to sympathise with Germany than any other element in Russia. My view concerning the benefit to the plain people of Russia through their education and the broadening of their views by the war is stronger now than when expressed two or three weeks ago. I do not think there will be a revolution immediately after the close of the war; that would be premature, but if the Court Party does not adopt a more liberal policy by extending more privileges to the people and their representatives in the Duma, a revolution will take place before the lapse of even a few years.

In the meantime, not only are the Russian people acquiring more information concerning the resources of their own country, but it seems to me that the attention of the world is becoming directed or fixed more intently on Russia from day to day. European and American newspapers and periodicals all dwell upon the magnificence of this Empire, its undeveloped wealth and its immense possibilities. There will be great competition for the trade of Russia after the close of the war. American enterprise is already looking with covetous eyes on the mineral deposits, the great water power, and the opportunities for railroad construction which this country offers. Several Americans are going home by the steamer which takes this pouch, but there is not one of them who is not planning to return to Russia, as all think there is no field on earth to be compared with this. The National City Bank has decided to open a branch here and I think it is not only a good move for that institution but would prove highly beneficial to the commercial relations of the two countries. I have no intention or desire to violate the neutrality of America, but in my judgment American capital and ingenuity should be encouraged here in order to offset, if nothing more, the well designed plan of England, and perhaps France also, to capture the trade of Russia after the war through the operation of the resolutions passed at the Economic Conference of the Allies held in Paris June 14-17. There have been many Americans here, and perhaps there are some now, who are unwise enough to take advantage of the necessities of Russia to extort unreasonable prices for what they have to sell; that is a short-sighted policy, however, and one which I am advising all Americans to avoid. . . .

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Yours sincerely,

David R. Francis